Class of 2013


Betsy Palmer

Film, Television and Stage Actress

Patricia Betsy Hrunek (1926 - ) graduated from East Chicago’s Roosevelt High School in 1944. She attended the East Chicago Business College, where her mother served as headmaster, until she decided that a career in drama was her true calling. She became Betsy Palmer as she began her professional acting 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 in the title role of Maggie in a musical version of “What Every Woman Knows” in 1953. In 1954, she married Vincent Merendino and the couple had one daughter, Missy, born in 1962.

Moving to the silver screen, she appeared in “Mister Roberts” and “The Long Gray Line” in 1955 and in “The Tin Star” in 1957. She gained worldwide notoriety, however, when she joined the panel of television’s “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1958, staying on the game show until it ended in 1967. She subsequently appeared in numerous television programs and theater productions and returned to films as the bloodthirsty mother of Jason in the horror films, “Friday the 13th” and “Friday the 13th II.” In 2005, she was immortalized as Jason’s on-screen mother in the documentary “Betsy Palmer: A Scream Queen Legend.”

In 1985, East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick presented her with the key to the city as he proclaimed “Betsy Palmer Day.” “You can go home again,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be back in The Region.” Ms. Palmer has been and continues to be active in various charities. She served on the Greater New York Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and has participated in several fundraisers to benefit Hospice of the Calumet Area, being named an Honorary Member of Hospice. "Even though I moved to New York, my heart never left The Region,” she affirmed in 2005. In noting Betsy Palmer’s legendary status, Hospice of the Calumet Area’s Jane Langendorff declared, “I can’t think of anyone who is a better example of the human spirit than Betsy Palmer.”

During the 1990s and into the 21st century, Betsy Palmer continued to appear in various television shows and also returned to her foundation on the stage in numerous productions. In 2005, the New England Theatre Conference awarded her the Major Award for her stage work.

Betsy Palmer was nominated by David Kornaus, formerly of Hammond, Ind.


Edward A. Rumely

Leader in Industry and Education

It was apparent early on that Edward Rumely (1882 – 1964), one of 13 children, was destined for greatness. He studied initially at the University of Notre Dame, and then matriculated to Ruskin Hall at Oxford before going on to Germany where he studied at Heidelberg and Freiburg universities. His determination to achieve was demonstrated in many ways. While he was in Germany, his father wanted him to return to La Porte, Ind. before he earned his medical degree. Rumely refused. His father cut off his funds, so Rumely went to work and earned money to enable him to stay and complete his degree. He graduated from Freiburg magna cum laude with a degree in medicine in 1906. While there, he wrote articles for American magazines on German customs and current affairs. One of them came to the attention of Theodore Roosevelt, and that initiated a chain of correspondence between Rumely and Roosevelt that lasted until the latter’s death in 1919.

His accomplishments as a leader in industry and education are significant. He became treasurer and general manager of the Rumely Company while still in his late twenties and spearheaded the construction of a completely new manufacturing complex in La Porte that was one of the most advanced in the nation. While in Germany, Rumely 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 the Interlaken School, which uniquely helped to build the mind, body and character of hundreds of young men he helped educate.

At the age of 32, Rumely resigned as an officer of the firm and moved to New York City where he became editor-in-chief and publisher of the New York Evening Mail. He later assisted farmers in obtaining loans through the Agricultural Bond and Credit Company. This was the beginning of his life’s work: educating the public on monetary reform, farm credits in agriculture, and the value of the Constitution. In 1932, he began forming the Committee for the Nation for Rebuilding Purchasing Power and Prices, or Committee for the Nation for short. Rumely served as executive secretary. Early in 1941, Rumely helped establish the Committee for Constitutional Government, serving as a trustee and executive secretary.

In ill health, Dr. Rumely returned to La Porte in 1959 and devoted his time and energy to disseminating information on cancer. Prior to his death in 1964, he assisted in various medical advances, including the improvement of hearing aids and the promotion of cytology (the Pap test) for early cancer detection, and he was an early opponent of cigarette smoking.

Edward Rumely was nominated by Leigh Morris, Senior Vice President, Northwest Region Development at Indiana Economic Development Corp.

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