NEWTON COUNTY — Three new “legends” became the 74th, 75th and 76th inductees to be honored on the South Shore Wall of Legends at the Indiana Welcome Center on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The Wall of Legends Project is sponsored by BP Whiting Refinery.
The 2019 Legends are George Ade (1866 -1944), the Father of the American Musical from Newton County; Thomas Katsahnias, who served in leadership positions in a “trilogy” of industries during times of turbulence; and Dr. Harold Scheub (1931-2019), who became one of the world’s leading scholars in African oral tradition and folklore.
Also recognized was the 16th recipient of a $1,000 Legends Scholarship sponsored by First Midwest and managed by Legacy Foundation. Treniece Burrel of Gary, a student at Ivy Tech Community College, is this year’s recipient. The purpose of the scholarship is to honor students who exemplify the Legends values in striving for a college degree.
In a first, the Legends induction was held not separately this year, but just before the 36th Annual Holiday Reception.
“We combined efforts this year to help raise awareness of not only the legendary talent that comes from our corner of the state, but also to grow the Legends scholarship,” said Speros Batistatos, President and CEO, South Shore Convention & Visitor’s Authority (SSCVA).
Hosted by the SSCVA, the Wall of Legends is based upon four values of Exploration, Courage, Creativity and Innovation. This is an all-volunteer initiative led by a panel of Judges representing the 7-counties of Northwest Indiana, said John Davies, founder and coordinator of this annual project. Stephen McShane, archivist, Calumet Regional Archives, Indiana University Northwest, volunteers as Legends Consultant.
Typically, South Shore Legends are historical contributors, not modern-day innovators. Legends are individuals, living or dead, who have had a substantial impact and have lived or worked in the seven counties of Northwest Indiana, which are Jasper, Lake, La Porte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke. These individuals were “trailblazers” and “exemplars whose records of personal conduct serve as examples to others.
The Legends judges are Marc Chase, Ben Clement, Tom Hargrove, Katie Holderby, Bill Keith, Amy McCormack, Joe Medellin, Dave Ryan, Michael Suggs, and Speros Batistatos. New this year are
Mike McCall, Chief Strategy Officer, Fair Oaks Farms, and Bruce R. Johnson, president, La Porte County Historical Society and Museum.
2019 Legend Inductees
George Ade was a renowned American writer, playwright, journalist and philanthropist. Ade is the Father of the American Musical. His first musical, “The Sultan of Sulu,” changed Broadway. The work introduced the new format where a story line was accompanied by music. His home, Hazelden Estate (currently a Newton County museum), was the location of Howard Taft’s successful launch for president. A new state marker commemorates the innovative 1908 Presidential Campaign and the visitor’s plaza on the toll road honors him.
Thomas Katsahnias was the son of a Greek immigrant who impacted a trilogy of three industries during a turbulent time of change. The industries are steel, health care and education. He spent most of his career at Inland Steel, rising through 12 jobs to become general manager and chief operating officer when the East Chicago steel mill was one of the nation’s largest with 20,000 people. During his tenure, No. 7 blast furnace, the largest state-of-the-art world-class furnace, was dedicated. After his retirement, Ancilla Systems sought his financial and leadership expertise. His ability to turn an entity around was proven again at Calumet College, where he served as chairman for 25 years. His leadership transformed the culture of the college that continues to benefit students today.
Dr. Harold Scheub, the son of a postal carrier and a housewife who was born and raised in Gary, became one of the world’s leading scholars in African oral tradition and folklore. He spent 43 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over 4 years through various countries in Africa, he walked more than 6,000 miles recording over 10,000 stories. He learned 17 dialects in African languages to effectively communicate. He fearlessly went from village to village during the height of apartheid gathering stories to share with students. In taking stories back to the classroom, he introduced students to the oral traditions of Africa, and illuminated an art as ancient as human existence.