Ronald Woodward, a retired history teacher, author and 32-year Wabash County Historian, was named the 2013 Distinguished Citizen on Thursday night at the Wabash County Chamber of Commerce annual dinner.
Woodward was introduced to the crowd by Trula Cramer, former director of the Wabash County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, who gave snippets of his life during a brief speech in the Honeywell Center’s Legacy Hall.
The presentation culminated the annual dinner, which also saw AgroChem honored as 2013 Business of the Year and the passing of the gavel from outgoing Chamber Chair Kristi Lundquist to incoming Chair Lance Agness.
“As we travel back in time to this citizen’s youth, we understand there was a love of collecting as this person grew up: stamps since the early years; a love of fossils, gathering of information and coins,” Cramer said during the introduction.
Woodward served in the U.S. Navy before graduating first from Indiana University and then from Ball State University with a master’s degree. His teaching career “encompassed the Greater Clark County Schools, Muncie, Wabash City Schools, Upper Wabash Vocational School and Manchester College (as known then),” Cramer continued.
Woodward arrived in Wabash County in 1974, serving as a geography and history teacher at the then Wabash Jr. High School.
“This was to mark the beginning of very impactful service to Wabash County,” Cramer said. “This person organized the Wabash Jr. High School historical group and coordinated its tours of cemeteries and recording associated list. This passionate teacher also served as sponsor of the Indiana Junior Historical Society for 25 years.”
Other honors Woodward received throughout the years was Indiana Geography Teacher of the Year, Walmart Teacher of the Year, 2000 Hoosier Historian from the Indiana Historical Society and semifinalist for Teacher of the Year, Cramer noted.
Woodward also has served as president of the Wabash County Historical and Wabash County Genealogical societies, which he helped form.
“He helped organize the present Wabash County Museum collection and has written many pamphlets and articles on Wabash County History,” Cramer said, adding that he co-authored books with his late, close friend and fellow historian Gladys Harvey, including “Shadows of Wabash,” “Wabash County Chronicles Volume I” and “Wabash County Chronicles Volume II.”
“He has done genealogical research for thousands of persons and assisted in writing the History of Wabash 1976 bicentennial,” Cramer continued. “He began the Alumni Association in 2003, compiling an Alumni Directory of Wabash High School and continues to keep that updated.
“His current project is assisting someone with research into a historical building that they hope becomes a Canal Museum.”
Lundquist, in her farewell address, looked at some of the highlights from the past year.
“The Expo was brought back this year, and we have a very talented and enthusiastic group of volunteers on this committee,” she said. “A new website was launched this summer, providing much more flexibility to you than was available previously and also helping staff to be more efficient.”
Agness, who has been involved with the Chamber for several years, said the organization has helped “make a lot of great new friends and reconnect with some old friends.”
“I have learned a lot of things about the Wabash community that helps me now understand what a great place I am fortunate enough to have been born in, raised in and now to live in,” he said.
Chamber President Kim Pinkerton, in her annual address to the membership, presented two special awards.
Christine Flohr, director of the Wabash County Convention and Visitors Bureau, received the Community Partner Award for outstanding service in the economic and cultural promotion of Wabash County.
Meanwhile, Lance and Shelley Agness Family received the President’s Choice Award for outstanding volunteerism.
“We have a tremendous community and we want it to be even better for those who follow us,” Pinkerton said. “As leaders, that is our responsibility and duty. No matter what is happening in Washington, D.C., I encourage you to have strong business models with adequate succession plans and to continue mentoring the next generation.”