The Walk of Fame

What is the Walk of Fame?

Founded in 2016, the Northern Appalachian Folk Festival’s “Walk of Fame” recognizes the important contributions made by residents of the Northern Appalachian region including and not limited to the fields of education, the environment, human rights, the arts and sports.  

 

Nominees are inducted into the “Walk of Fame” at an annual ceremony that takes place during each Northern Appalachian Folk Festival Inc. festival. Inscribed bricks are then placed into the sidewalks, much like the Hollywood Stars, so that we can remember the great individuals of our region for years to come. 

Mae & Gene Nance, Kathy Abby-Baker and Jim Dougherty, watch Drew Nance place Jim Nance's brick in the Walk of Fame

Standing - Hank Shiner, Jim Watta, Ted Cougar, and Sherene Hess 

In Front - Hastie Kinter, Tony DeLoreto, Sharon Herring, Cindy Rogers

Doves were released at the end of the program

2020 Inductees are:
  • Education - Lucy Donnelly

Daughter of R. Hastie and Lucilla O’Hare Ray, was born on November 29, 1929 in Indiana Pa.

 

Following attendance at IUP’s Keith Hall laboratory school, she graduated from in Indiana High School in 1943.  She went on to attend Bucknell University, New York University and finally at IUP.

 

She worked for The Associated Press and Look magazine in New York City before becoming part owner of the Palm Beach News Service in Florida.

 

In 1950 she returned to Indiana and began her career with the Indiana Gazette as coordinator in all facets of newspaper management and production.  She served as a photographer and society page reporter and also immersed herself in the rapidly changing technology of the industry.

Mrs. Donnelly was always active in news and professional organizations.  She was a member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association.  She was also active in the Associated Press at the state and national levels.

 

Her loyalty to her community was expressed by her leadership in various organizations.  She served as chair of the Greater Indiana Corporation and a member of the Indiana County Economic Development Committee and the Indiana County Industrial Development Authority.  Mrs. Donnelly was on the executive board and numerous committees of the Downtown Indiana Merchants Association as well as the Main Street Program.

 

She initiated the Christmas Angel program in 1960 and was the founder and president of the Indiana County Humane Society, aiding in the establishment of the Indiana County Animal Shelter.

 

Among the many awards she received included the Indiana Civic Leader of the Year and the Zonta Woman of the Year award in 1985.

She was the recipient of the Friends of the Library Award and the Aging Services Hall of Fame Award in 1991

  • Sports - Bernice Gera

Bernice Shiner Gera (June 15, 1931 – September 23, 1992) was the first female umpire in professional 

baseball. She retired after one game citing the resentment of other umpires.

 

Born in Ernest, Pennsylvania and one of five children, Gera loved baseball as a child and grew up

playing as an outfielder and umpiring games. She never considered a career in baseball until she was

already in her mid-thirties, married, living in Jackson Heights, NY, and working as a secretary

According to a Time article, the idea to become an umpire just suddenly hit her one night and saw her work umpiring games in slums as "a form of social welfare," as having a woman on the field would lead to "less trouble" and encourage other women to attend the games. Gera sold her husband, a free-lance photographer, on the idea and enrolled in the Florida Baseball School in 1967.

As umpiring had been a strictly male profession up to that point, the school had no facilities for Gera, and she spent much of the six-week program living in a nearby motel. By several reports, she excelled in her training, yet Gera was rejected by the National Association of Baseball Leagues (NABL), which claimed that she did not meet the physical requirements of the job. Ed Doherty, a baseball executive, claimed that umpires needed to be 21–35 years old, a minimum of 5 foot 10 inches tall, and weigh 170 pounds while Gera was only 5 foot 2, 38 years old, and 126 pounds. Gera even had prior experience umpiring for the National Baseball Congress in Bridgeton, NJ as well as in "recreational programs in the slums," but this was not enough to get her a job. Unable to gain employment as a female umpire, on March 19, 1969, Gera filed a sex discrimination case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act with the New York State Human Rights Commission. In her complaint, she accused both the New York Professional Baseball League and its president, Vincent McNamara, of not employing her as an umpire due to her sex. In his rejection of Gera's application, McNamara cited single-gender dressing rooms and foul language on the field as reasons why females should not umpire games.

Undeterred, Gera fought the NABL in court for five years. Representative Mario Biaggi (D., N.Y.), represented Gera legally in court and, using Gera's story as inspiration, even introduced an equal rights Constitutional amendment to the House during his time in Congres. On January 13, 1972, Gera finally won a discrimination suit against the NABL, winning approval in The Court of Appeals in a 5-to-2 decision. Though she was not a member of women's liberation group, she was a "stanch adherent of work equality" and viewed this as a huge victory. She then received a contract to work in the New York–Penn League on April 13, opening the door for her to become the first female umpire in professional baseball. On June 23, 1972, she gained national attention when she umpired the first game of a Class A minor league doubleheader between the Geneva Senators and Auburn Twins. The game was a near sellout with 2,000 people attending the game at Shuron Park in Geneva, N.Y. In the fourth inning, Gera ruled Auburn base-runner Terry Ford safe at second on a double play, then reversed her call. Auburn manager Nolan Campbell disputed the decision and said that Gera's first mistake was putting on an umpire's uniform and her second was blowing the call. Campbell was ejected from the game, but Gera still decided to resign between games, which was later said to be planned, saying she became disenchanted with umpiring when the other umpires refused to cooperate with her on the field. She was scheduled to be the home plate umpire for the second game.

Gera cites the "cool resentment" of both the other umpires and the baseball establishment as a

motivation for her decision to resign, not her dispute with Auburn manager Nolan Campbell. This,

combined with both verbal, written and physical "threats" "disgusted" her and contributed to her

disillusionment with baseball culture. Eight men, for example, allegedly shattered the light outside

Gera's motel room and cursed at her the night before she umpired her first game, perceiving her as

an "attack on baseball's male fraternity. Though she resigned not long after becoming an umpire,

Gera saw this as a larger, symbolic victory for women participating in sports historically perceived

as "for men only."  "Bernice would always say, 'I could beat them in the courts, but I can't beat them

on the field,'" Steve Gera, her husband, quoted his wife as saying. Although she stopped umpiring,

Bernice Gera stayed in the game. She went to work for the New York Mets in the team's community relations and promotions from 1974 to 1979 before retiring to Florida.

Bernice died of kidney cancer in 1992 in Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, Florida at 61 years old.

 

Timeline

1967: Gera sold her husband, a free-lance photographer, on the idea and enrolled in the Florida Baseball School in 1967

1969: Unable to gain employment as a female umpire, on March 19, 1969, Gera filed a sex discrimination case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act with the New York State Human Rights Commission.

1972: On January 13, 1972, Gera finally won a discrimination suit against the NABL, winning approval in The Court of Appeals in a 5-to-2 decision.

1972: On June 23, 1972, she gained national attention when she umpired the first game of a Class A minor league doubleheader between the Geneva Senators and Auburn Twins.

1992: Bernice died of kidney cancer in 1992 in Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, Florida at 61 years old.

  • Human Rights- Marilyn McCusker

Marilyn McCusker championed women’s rights, fair wages & employment in a male

dominated field. Her death in 1979 sent shock waves through the Pennsylvania coal #mining community. #WomensHistoryMonth 👉 https://phmc.info/2hepM4v

 

Marilyn McCusker’s items – a hardhat and lamp with battery pack, paper union card, lunch pail and leather mining belt – appear in the new exhibit, Pennsylvania Icons, at The State Museum. CAP Curator Carol Buck selected the artifacts as this week’s Pennsylvania Treasure.

 

On Oct. 2, 1979, Marilyn McCusker arrived at her job at the Rushton Mine along with her gear – a hardhat with lamp and battery pack, paper union card, lunch pail and leather mining belt. Later that day, her tragic death would make national history, sending shockwaves through the Pennsylvania coal mining community.

 

The series of events that would eventually lead to McCusker’s death began in 1974, when she, then Marilyn Williams, applied for a position at the Rushton Mining Co. in Clearfield County, Pa. For years, McCusker had worked steadily, holding down jobs as a bartender and in a nursing home. She applied for a job with Rushton Mining in hopes of improving her family’s standard of living. Rushton Mining denied McCusker and other women employment based on their gender, setting off a legal battle. In 1977 a court awarded the women jobs working in the mine and $30,000 in back pay.

 

Mining is a physically challenging and dangerous job for men and women alike. The days are long, temperatures can be bone chilling and heavy coal dust fills the air, coating a worker’s skin and lungs. But the $90-a-day pay was far more than McCusker had earned at her previous jobs. The income was important to the then – unmarried Marilyn Williams, who was raising a teenage son. She looked forward to building her own home and ultimately quitting the mine to start a business with her soon-to-be husband, Alan McCusker.

 

At about 3:15 p.m. on Oct. 2, 1979, five years after Marilyn McCusker first applied for a job with Rushton Mining, she became the first woman in the United States to die in a deep-mine accident. She was performing the dangerous job of roof bolter helper when a section of the mine roof collapsed. Tons of rock and debris fell on McCusker, suffocating her.

 

McCusker was a champion for women’s rights, fair wages and employment in a typically male dominated field. Her struggle against discrimination continued even after she died, when her husband applied for death benefits. Pennsylvania laws prohibited a man from collecting benefits after his wife’s death “unless he is incapable of self-support.” Alan McCusker vowed he would take this fight all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The mining company agreed to pay him and his son a total of $227 a week, with an additional life insurance payment of $12,000 to each of them. In 1991 the famed Rushton Mine closed its doors permanently and 250 people lost their jobs.

 

Marilyn McCusker’s items appear in the new exhibit, Pennsylvania Icons. CAP Curator Carol Buck selected the artifacts as this week’s Pennsylvania Treasure.

  • Environment - Peggy Clark

Peggy and her family lived on a farm in Indiana County and lost their water due to deep mining. At that time there were some laws in place to protect landowners but nothing to protect those who lost their water or who built post 1966 and had land subsidence occur.

Peggy organized the Citizens Against Water Loss From Mining (CAWLM) in the 70’s to get a state law passed to protect against water loss due to deep mining. In the 1980’s DEP set up a process to try and resolve the problems with deep mining , water loss, and subsidence. This eventually resulted in the passage of act 54.

 

Although Act 54 was not as far reaching as Peggy wanted to achieve it did make a huge difference to residents of rural PA. CAWLM and the League of Women Voters (LWV) were two of the groups involved in this process. Peggy was always calm, organized and well researched and testified 100’s of times for the protection of water resources. Peggy’s work was local activism at it’s best. She had a life long interest in environmental issues especially those related to energy extraction. Peggy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the late 80’s and fought cancer in addition to continuing to fight to protect our water resources. She is a grassroots activist who made a difference not only in the county but throughout the state. She is a remarkable person who was able to continue to fight over two decades for important environmental issues.

Peggy Clark joined the LWV in September of 1983 and was a board member and active member until 2004. She continued on the environmental committee to work on other environmental issues until 2008. 

 

The "Peggy Clark Grassroots Environmental Activist Award” was created and awarded each year by the Indiana PA League of Women Voters.

  • Arts - Abby Morris

Abigail “Abby” Morris was born in January 10,1925.  As a youngster, Abby was privileged to study all aspects of dance and the arts. At the age of 4, she began studying piano with Clara Bollinger Stouffer, a noted composer of piano literature.  Abby’s 15 minute of fame in 1930 at age 5 when she was entered into statewide contest in Baltimore.  She came away with all three prizes offered: most talented child, most beautiful and healthiest.  The event was featured in the Pathe News in movie theaters across the country.

At age 9, Abby played a piano composition called “Majesty of The Deep,” which won her a piano scholarship to the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

 

From then on, Abby’s entire life was immersed in arts.  In high school, she was introduced to Shakespeare.  She fell in love with his sonnets, many which she committed to memory.  Her favorite writers were Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and Noel Coward.  She adored Broadway musical theater, ballet, and symphony orchestras.

 

She was a graduate of York Junior College and the Johns Hopkins School of Radiography.

Upon completion, she moved to New York City and continued studying music and dance and attended chemistry, literature and music classes at Brooklyn College and Columbia University.  She became co-director of The Ford Foundation’s “Drama for Discussion.”

 

Abby loved Indiana and will long be remembered by the hundreds of citizens who participated in her many musical reviews that raised money for various local community organizations.   She moved in 1964 to Indiana and, in 1965 at the Indiana County fairgrounds presented her first production for the Indiana Tourist Bureau.

 

Following a performance of her 1990 production, “Showcase Indiana,” Mayor J.D. Varner took the stage and read a proclamation naming April 27th 1990 “Abby Morris Day” in Indiana.

One of her proudest accomplishments locally was the co-founding of  "The Indiana Players.”

  • Public Health: Dr. Rachel Levine:

 

Dr. Levine is currently the Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and

Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine.

Dr. Levine is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the Academy for Eating Disorders. She is also the President of ASTHO, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. 

Dr. Levine joined the Wolf administration in January 2015 as the Physician General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and served from 2015-2017. She was named Acting Secretary of Health in July 2017 and confirmed as Secretary of Health in March 2018.

Her previous posts included: Vice-Chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

In addition to her recent posts Dr. Levine is also an accomplished regional and international speaker, and author on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBT medicine.

Dr. Levine graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine. She completed her training in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

The event started with a prayer from

Pastor Ted Cougar

Anne Simmons, LWV President,  explained why all women were inducted this year. It is the 100th year anniversary of women's sufferage!

Laura Jeffery spoke about Lucy Donnelly and Hastie Kinter accepted the certificate

Jim Watta gave the background of Bernice Gera. Henry Shinner, Bernice's brother, accepted the certificate and told stories of Bernice and he growing up and her time as an umpire. 

Jim Dougherty with Marilyn McCuskers certificate

Cindy Rogers, (LWV's) presented information about Peggy Clark

Sharon Herring told us about Abby Morris

Pastor Ted Cougar talked about Dr Rachel Levine

2019 Inductees:

  • Education - Nellie Bly 

    • Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (May 5, 1864– January 27, 1922), better known by her pen name Nellie Bly, was an American journalist who was widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she worked undercover to report on a mental institution from within. She was a pioneer in her field, and launched a new kind of investigative journalism. Bly was also a writer, inventor, and industrialist.  Early in her life she lived in Pittsburgh and briefly attended the Indiana Normal School (now IUP).

  • Human Rights- John Brophy   

    • Brophy was born in Lancashire, England to a family of miners. His family emigrated to the United States when he was nine years old and found work in the central Pennsylvania coal mines. Brophy began working in the mines at age eleven; by the age of fourteen, he had joined the UMWA. He rose within the union to become president of District 2 of the UMWA.  Brophy ran against John L. Lewis for President of the UMWA in 1926 calling for nationalization of the coal industry, a 30 hour work week at the same pay as a 40 hour week and the establishment of a third national progressive political party.  He lost the union election to Lewis, but most historians feel it was rigged and that Brophy probably would have won the election if the vote had been held democratically.  Lewis controlled the counting of the ballots.  Brophy advocated for the human rights of the miners, their families and communities.  He also created a very innovative community-based education program called “Labor Chautauqua’s” that sought to educate miners and their families about democracy and the role of government.

  • Environment - East Run Hellbenders Society, Inc.  

    •  In 2012, residents of Grant Township in northeastern Indiana County were informed that a Marcellus shale company, Pennsylvania General Energy, from Warren, PA, wanted to install a Class IID injection well where it would literally shoot the wastewater from Marcellus shale gas wells into the ground near their homes.  Since all the residents of the township use well water, this was a major concern.  PGE’s own state record for environmental violations with the Department of Environmental Protection outlined the very real possibility that the wastewater would leach in the ground and eventually pollute their water.  In response, Grant Township residents created a group that would work to stop this threat and took on the hellbender as a symbol representing their cause.  Major newspapers have written stories about the Hellbenders including the Rolling Stone Magazine.  Currently, oral arguments scheduled for Friday, October 4, 2019, Pittsburgh will be heard on whether this community has the right to protect itself from corporate harms like injection wells.

  • Arts - Jim Rogers   

    • Jim was a self employed photographer for over 25 years. He was employed by the Communications Media Department of IUP as a faculty advisor for WIUP-FM and taught classes in radio and photography. Volunteering at WIUP-FM for over 30 years, he primarily aired Saturday and Sunday morning radio programs which highlighted singer-song writers, folk music and bluegrass.   As Special Programs Director/Community Volunteer Coordinator, he was producer/host of WIUP-FM’s Modern Troubadours (29 years), FolkTime! (34 years) and The Bluegrass Ramble (9 years).  He was also director of FolkTime! Productions, Indiana Pa

  • Sports - IUP Woman's Basketball 

    • ​IUP women's basketball followed up its wildly successful 2017-18 season with another historic year. The Crimson Hawks won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division regular season title, the PSAC tournament championship, and another Atlantic Region crown to advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the second consecutive season. IUP head coach Tom McConnell was named PSAC West Coach of the Year, with seniors Carolyn Appleby, Lauren Wolosik and Brittany Robinson each earning all-league honors. Appleby also earned All-Atlantic Region and All-American accolades.

       

2018 Inductees:

  • Jim Nance - Sports

    • Jim was the first two-time African American Pennsylvania high school state heavyweight wrestling champion, a star football running back at Syracuse University, and the first two-time NCAA heavyweight national champion. Later, he was a star running back for the Boston Patriots (now the New England Patriots)

  • Andy Warhol - Arts ​​

    • Andy was an American artist and filmmaker who kicked off the popular and iconic pop art style that we know today. The original purpose of his artwork is said to have been a commentary on commercial culture in America. Many of his artworks are displayed in the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

  • Edward Abbey - The Environment 

    • Born in Indiana, Pa., Edward was an author who frequently wrote of environmental issues. He advocated strongly for environmental preservation specifically in Western America. He often wrote about his love for nature. His novel The Monkey Wrench Gang inspired a change in some environmental activism, the advocacy group EarthFirst! being a prime example of the novel’s inspiration.

  • Ida Tarbell - Education

    • Ida was a teacher, writer, and investigative journalist, the role she is most known for. She was one of the leading muckrakers during the Progressive Era, exposing many of the issues in the rising oil industry. Her writing is noted to have been easy to digest for any type of reader.

  • Chris Catalfamo - Human Rights

    • Chris, an Indiana resident and former St. Vincent's College history professor, was said to be the "catalyst" for the transformation of the ​former Second Baptist Church into the Blairsville Underground Railroad History Center. The history center is a walking and self-driving tour through Indiana County, educating the public on Blairsville's effort to help African Americans flee enslavement through underground railroads.

2017 Inductees:

  • Jeff Kelly - Arts and Music​​

    • Jeff was a renowned local musician that pursued a career across many musical genres. Originally a rock-n-roll player, he eventually switched to performing solo folk music. After experiencing Chicago's rich blue's traditions, he was inspired to become a self-taught historian and interpreter of blues in the tradition of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters among other classic performers. Jeff incorporated their style into his shows and received many local and regional awards for the quality of his work.​

  • Rachel Carson - The Environment 

    • Rachel was a marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.  Silent Spring described the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment.  The book received other accolades, including an edition with an introduction written by Al Gore and being designated a National Historical Landmark by the American Chemical Society. 

  • Dr. Irwin Marcus - Education

    • Dr. Irwin Marcus Emeritus Professor of History at IUP.  He taught at the university for over 35 years, developed the first course of “working class history” in the state, served on numerous thesis and doctoral committees, organized conferences that received national attention and was a mentor to thousands of students throughout the years.​

  • Clara Roberts- Human Rights

    • Clara was an up and coming human rights advocate who worked on social justice causes, organizing events for gender equality and reproductive justice.  She was also involved in political campaigns for candidates that supported progressive causes. At the time of her tragic and untimely death at age 24, she was preparing to attend New York University’s School of Law to pursue a degree in law that promoted social justice.​

Photographs of the event kindly supplied by Cheri Widozowski

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