Betsy Palmer, Edward A. Rumely Honored as South Shore Legends

East Chicago native actress Betsy Palmer and La Porte industrialist Dr. Edward A. Rumely became the newest inductees in the South Shore Legends Thursday. The ninth induction took place at the Indiana Visitors Center in Hammond, where South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority’s Speros Batistatos and John Davies, Coordinator for the Wall of Legends Project, introduced speakers for the awards.

Local columnist Phil Potempa, who collaborated on a book with Palmer in 2010, commented on Palmer’s, “Wall-to-Wall” smile.

Born Patricia Betsy Hrunek, she graduated from East Chicago’s Roosevelt High School in 1944. She attended the East Chicago Business College, until deciding that a career in drama was her calling. She became Betsy Palmer as she began her career in 1951 in “Miss Susan,” a soap opera filmed in Philadelphia.

She moved to the stage with the role of Nellie Forbush in “South Pacific” and other roles. She gained world-wide notoriety when she joined the panel of television’s “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1958, staying on until the game show ended until 1967. In addition to television programs and theater productions, she returned to the silver screen in the “Friday the 13th” films. In 2005, the New England Theatre Conference presented her the Major Award for her stage work. She was nominated by David Kornaus, formerly of Hammond.

Davies read a letter from Palmer to Potempa:

“Every actor hopes for recognition in the big leagues, Hollywood or New York. Certainly I’ve had my share of that. But there’s nothing that beats being recognized by your own home town. Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, they’re all nice. But I’ll happily and proudly take the South Shore Wall of Legends over any of that. I might be 87, but this girl isn’t done yet.Thank you for honoring me. Thank you for including me. I send you all my love, my appreciation, and my best wishes for the holiday season and the new year ahead. Love, Betsy.

La Porte Mayor Blair Milo, who spoke at Thursday’s induction, said Dr. Edward A. Rumely made a huge impact on the city of LaPorte and was largely responsible for its growth. Born in 1882, one of 13 children, Rumely was nominated by Leigh Morris. Rumely’s accomplishments in industry and education are globally significant. He became treasurer and general manager of the Rumely Company while in his late 20’s and spearheaded the construction of a complete new manufacturing complex in La Porte that was one of the most advanced in the nation. While studying in Germany, he was intrigued by Rudolf Diesel, and that experience led him to conceive of the engine concept that was created for the revolutionary new Rumely Oil-Pull Tractor.

He also led the acquisition of several other related companies, enabling the Rumely Company to emerge as a leading agricultural equipment manufacturer of worldwide significance. At the same time, he developed Interlaken School that uniquely helped to build mind, body and character of the hundreds of young men he helped to educate.

Stephen G. McShane, Curator of the Calumet Regional Archives, Indiana University Northwest and consultant on the Wall of Legends Project, said the selection process is a vigorous one, whereby a panel of judges scrutinizes the nominees, taking two votes to make their final selection.

Dino J. Ramirez, who earned his degree last week from Calumet College of St. Joseph, was named this year’s Legends Scholar. Ramirez lost his legs in an all-terrain vehicle accident and missed two years of high school as a result. Seven surgeries later, he rose to leadership as a youth baseball, basketball and football coach and pursued his college degree. The Legends Committee awarded Ramirez $1,000. He is the tenth Legends scholar to be honored on the wall.

“I’ve been bitten by the bug. I’m going on for my Master’s,” Ramirez said. “It hasn’t been easy but I’m from Chicago and one thing that city taught me is how to be tough. You just put your head down and dig through it. I’ve done it to show my kids. It’s very, very humbling, and I thank you.”

Calumet College President Daniel P. Lowery, said Ramirez showed great leadership during his time at Calumet College.

Davies, said the wall honors, “those who through their deeds have changed our world through their deeds of exploration, courage, creativity and innovation. Northwest Indiana has produced amazing talent who have changed the world in large and small ways. They have had a substantial impact with lasting implications. There are now two walls with the names of 62 individuals whose stories are not just stories of Northwest Indiana, but the epic story of America.”

“It’s a legacy of our rich history here in Northwest Indiana,” said Tom Keilman, director of Government and Public Affairs, Whiting Business Unit BP, which sponsors the Legends Project.

After Thursday’s ceremony, those in attendance took part in the installation of the each legend’s plaque, called, “The touching of the Plaques,” in the hallway of the Indiana Visitor’s Bureau.

The Legend Judges are: Bill Keith, Ben Clement, Dave Ryan, Joe Medellin, Michael Suggs, Tom Hargrove, Dennis Rittenmeyer, Ph.D.; Bill Nangle, Jon Gold, John Friend, Harry Vande Velde III, and Nicki Mackowski.

Other legends are: Dorothy Buell, Octave Chanute and Henry Chandler Cowles, 2004; the Black Freedom Fighters, Burton and Humphries, and Captain William Eddy, 2005; Jean Shepherd, Memorial Day Massacre Victims, Tuskegee Airmen, 2007; Frank Dudley; Karl Malden, Tony Zale, 2008; Joseph P. Comer; Orville Redenbacker, Charles Bowman, and Garnet Findling; and Jerry Ross, 2009; Vivian Carter and John Maniotes;, 2010; Congressional Medal recipients, Jackson 5/The Jacksons and Nobel Prize Awardees, 2011; and Avery Brooks, John Edward “Jack” Chevigny, and Sue Hendrickson, 2012.

The Legends Scholarship sponsor is First Midwest Bank and the scholarship is overseen by Legacy Foundation. It is presented to a student from one of our area colleges and universities who demonstrate one of the values on the Wall of Legends to get a college education.

The Legends Scholarship Committee include: Theresa Ek, Purdue Calumet; Marilyn Simpson, Valparaiso University; Tiesha Walker, Calumet College; Brad Remmenga, Purdue North Central; Cindy Sabo, IUN; R. Keith Howard; and John Davies, Ivy Tech Northwest.

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