The tenth class of Howard County Legends will be honored by the Howard County Historical Society at the annual Legends Banquet on Aug. 23. Since its inception in 2010 as the brainchild of Kokomo civic leader Craig Dunn, the Hall of Legends has recognized the accomplishments of 53 notable residents of Howard County and two significant organizations. They span a broad range of work and contributions, from the arts and humanities to journalism, philanthropy, business, medicine, science and engineering.
Among those included over the past decade have been America’s first female U.S. Marine, the “Father of Modern Optometry,” the creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, two pioneers of the automobile industry, one of the world’s leading heart surgeons, a country music superstar and an opera singer, three award-winning journalists, and multiple educators, among others. A full list is available on the historical society’s website at www.hchistory.org.
This year’s honorees, chosen from a long list of remarkable people with Howard County roots, include: Mike Murphy, a world-famous aviator who trained American glider pilots and led them into France on D-Day; Dee Hahn, a nurse who co-founded the Julian Center for victims of domestic and sexual violence and went on to a career in international service; Ryan Kitchell, the chief administrative officer for Indiana University Health who served on Governor Mitch Daniels’ administrative team as director of the state Office of Management and Budget; Yvonne Ferguson-Watkins, a legal trailblazer as a female African-American attorney in Indianapolis, whose community leadership took her well beyond the courtroom; Kokomo businessman Doug Vaughn, who rose from poverty in Haiti to build a career in his new home and form an international non-profit organization; and Beth Brooke, the first woman to receive a basketball scholarship at Purdue University who, as global vice chair of public policy at EY (formerly Ernst and Young), was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
The Hall of Legends induction banquet will be held Aug. 23 at Bel Air Event Center in Kokomo. Ticket sales will be announced soon.
Dolores Hahn-Rollins, born in Kokomo in 1940, created a legacy of service to her home state, her country, and the world that included mentoring, empowering, and changing the lives of countless women.
The only child of Gilbert and Louise Hahn, she left for Indianapolis after high school, earning a nursing degree and working in the emergency room at Methodist Hospital. A young doctor’s wife in the 1960s, she met the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, who encouraged her to become involved in the leadership of church. That encouragement launched her on a new path where she would eventually impact people across the globe.
That legacy of service began in Indianapolis where she co-founded the Julian Center, one of the first women’s counselling centers in the city. Since its founding in 1975, the Julian Center has helped more than 66,000 survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Hahn-Rollins earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Mary of the Woods in 1979. In 1980, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she completed her master’s degree in public administration/women’s studies at George Washington University and launched a career in international service. From 1984 to 1988, she worked at the U.S. State Department as an internal consultant for the Foreign Service Institute. From 1984 to 1989, Hahn-Rollins helped design and deliver a “Women’s Leadership Project” for the National Episcopal Church in Kenya, a program whose story is told in a documentary film entitled “The Women Will,” which premiered at the Kennedy Center in 1986. Starting in 1988 as a senior consultant with Training Resources Group Inc, she delivered training and organizational development assistance to public and private sector clients that included the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the World Bank; and Heifer International.
She died Feb. 16, 2008, in Washington, D.C., at the age of 67.
Kokomo native Ryan Kitchell dedicated himself to a career in public service and later healthcare administration after the experience of helping to care for a friend who died of cancer while the two were students at Indiana University. He honed his financial acumen through a series of work assignments and life events that took him from Wall Street to the Indiana governor’s office. In 2017, Kitchell – whose first paying job was a Kokomo Tribune paper route - was named executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Indianapolis-based Indiana University Health.
With impressive credentials (he has an MBA from Dartmouth) and corporate treasury experience in Chicago and New York and with Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, Kitchell is seen as a “thoughtful team builder” at IU Health. He currently manages departments including human resources, government affairs, information services, and marketing in an institution that invests more than $500 million annually in community-benefit measures that serve some 1 million Indiana residents.
He brings a wealth of insight to his job and sees his role as that of “a coach,” helping develop others and then enjoying seeing them succeed.
Notable names in Kitchell’s own career trajectory include former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who praised Kitchell’s service and dedication as public finance director and then director of the state’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Kitchell’s contribution from 2005 to 2010, according to Daniels, was “invaluable” in terms of overseeing a $20 billion biennial budget, improving Indiana’s infrastructure investment, and building up the state’s cash reserves. “Hoosiers were fortunate to have a public servant so dedicated to the financial well-being of our state,” Daniels said.
Kitchell currently serves on several boards including the Indiana Sports Corporation, Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation, Crossroads of America Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Indiana Motorsports Commission, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, NBA All-Star 2021 Games, and the Old National Bancorp.
Kitchell and his wife, Molly, live in Zionsville with their four children. He is the son of former Kokomo Tribune sports editor Dave Kitchell and retired Kokomo teacher Linda Kitchell.
As an African-American woman lawyer in Indianapolis in the 1970s, Yvonne Ferguson Watkins was a legal trailblazer. Early in her career, she was one of only three women of color practicing criminal law in Indianapolis and she made a name for herself by fighting injustices and donating her time and talents to people who had no voice.
Ferguson Watkins grew up in Kokomo, the oldest of 10 children, and attended Kokomo Public Schools. An excellent and ambitious student, she graduated from Kokomo High School in 1963 at the age of 16 and began college at Indiana University Kokomo. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from IU Bloomington followed by a law degree in 1972 from IU’s School of Law.
Working with Indiana Congresswoman Julia Carson, then Marion County’s Center Township trustee, Ferguson Watkins was a leader in such civic-minded activities as the Annual Shop for a Child Christmas Campaign, Operation Big Vote, Indiana Black Expo, Circle City Classic, Jack and Jill Incorporated and her favorite, the Mozell Sanders Foundation. She was the original host of radio station WTLC’s Legally Speaking, where she and other local legal experts provided free legal advice.
Ferguson Watkins’ credits include serving as president of the Indianapolis Professional Association and being a lifetime member of the Marion County Bar Association, Indiana Trial Lawyers, and Indiana State Bar Association. Active in Democratic politics in Indianapolis, she was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention twice, in 1977 for President Jimmy Carter and in 1993 for President Bill Clinton, and visited the White House. She was a member of Operation Push with Jesse Jackson and worked on campaigns for former Governor and Senator Evan Bayh and Congressman Andre Carson. She said one of her proudest political efforts was her involvement with the Ohio campaign and election of President Barack Obama.
Watkins Ferguson passed away on Oct. 11, 2018.
He was born Doricles Cesar. For 11 years, he was a malnourished youngster who left school after six months to work as an unpaid houseboy in his native Haiti. Of the nine children born to his penniless Haitian parents, four died at an early age. His future seemed anything but certain, until he was noticed one day by Orville and Lodie Vaughn, a retired couple doing missionary work on behalf of Kokomo’s Second Missionary Baptist Church. The Vaughns arranged for the helpful and hopeful young man to return with them to the United States.
Doricles Cesar became Douglas Vaughn, and 56 years later, Vaughn has indeed realized the promise of his adoptive parents in Indiana. Overcoming cultural, racial and language challenges (when he arrived in 1963, he couldn’t speak or write English), Vaughn graduated from General Motors Institute (now known as Kettering University) in Michigan and the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. For 13 years, he owned an insurance agency, and for the last 30 years, he has been the owner of Rite Quality Office Supplies in Kokomo. Vaughn has never forgotten the circumstances of his youth or his homeland.
He founded the “Haitian Environmental Support Program” in 1981, and since then H.E.S.P. group members and volunteers have made numerous mission trips to deliver supplies, establish funding sources, distribute earthquake relief, renovate schools, host vision clinics, and support various environmental efforts in Haiti. A partnership with the Lions Club International resulted in the distribution of 3,500 pairs of eyeglasses. Another project involved the installation of a water purification system to stem the spread of cholera in the water supply at Pilate, a community in north Haiti with some 40,000 residents.
Back home in Indiana, Vaughn and his Haitian-born wife, Lynn, have three children, Doricles, Kimberly, and Christina. Collectively, they remain active in various fundraising projects and efforts to support humanitarian efforts. Vaughn also serves in the local community as a board member of: Sagamore Council - Boy Scouts of America, Community Foundation of Howard County, Goodfellows, Kokomo CEO program, and Second Missionary Baptist Church.
“Since I was tremendously blessed by God and the Vaughns,” he said, “I felt like I could make a positive difference in the life of at least one poor child in Haiti. Then my life wouldn’t be in vain and my purpose would be fulfilled.”
Born in 1906 in Rossville, Illinois, Mike Murphy came to Indiana with his parents as a boy and was taught to fly by aviation pioneer and mentor, Captain L. I. Aretz. Murphy quickly became a “thrill flyer,” devising many new feats for spectators. Flying a World War I vintage biplane in the 1920s, when barnstorming was all the rage, he was known as “The Flying Irishman” as he performed stunts at state fairs and air shows. The first pilot to take off and land from a moving automobile, he also mounted wheels on the top of his plane so he could land upside down. The two-time winner of the World Aerobatics Championship and three-time winner of the Lund trophy for precision aerobatics operated the Kokomo airfield for several years.
Murphy joined the Army reserves in 1941 and by spring of 1943, he was putting gliders through their paces at Stout Field, Indianapolis, for the First Troop Carrier Command. He taught at Laurinburg-Maxton glider school in North Carolina and overseas in England. Recognized as an expert in glider operations and flight, he performed a demonstration for General Hap Arnold on August 3, 1943 known as the “pea patch show”. His pilots silently landed 10 fully loaded gliders in the dark. When Murphy brought up the lights, the large group of spectators were stunned they were standing only feet from the gliders’ landing spots. This demonstration convinced General Arnold of the tactical and stealth value of the troop transport glider. Not surprisingly, Lt. Col. Murphy was the first man of the invasion forces to land his glider, “The Fighting Falcon,” on enemy soil in Normandy on D-Day.
Returning home after the war with the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Murphy continued flying and was the founder of the Marathon Oil Company’s aviation division. The founder of many aerobatic and race pilot’s associations, he lived his post-war years in Lima, Ohio. Murphy passed away on April 11, 1981 and is buried in Lebanon, Indiana.
Beth Brooke was first known in Howard County as an all-around athlete for Taylor High School’s Class of 1977. She excelled in tennis, golf, softball, and basketball and was part of the first group of women to receive basketball scholarships from Purdue University. On the surface, that gave few hints to her future accomplishments, although it does help explain her 2015 selection to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and her 2017 Theodore Roosevelt Award from the NCAA.
Beth graduated with highest distinction from Purdue, earning an undergraduate degree in industrial management and computer science. In 1981, she joined EY, formerly Ernst and Young, in Indianapolis as a certified public accountant, and became the international consulting firm’s national director of tax advisory services in 1991. She took a two-year break from EY to join the U.S. Department of Treasury in 1993, where she was responsible for tax policy related to insurance for the Clinton Administration. Upon returning to EY, she rose to the position of global vice chair of public policy, working on policies related to global capital markets, and served as the head of EY’s diversity and inclusiveness efforts.
Beth has been named to the Forbes list of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” 10 times. She served on the United States delegation to 53rd and 54th meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She has co-chaired the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership, serves on the board of the Aspen Institute and The Conference Board, and has honorary doctoral degrees from Indiana University, Purdue University, and Babson College. In 2017, she was honored by Purdue with the Krannert Business Leadership Award. This year, she also became a member of the board of directors of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.