Ferry hosts Hall of Honor

MARTINS FERRY – Purple people get it done.

That was more than obvious Sunday afternoon high atop the Purple City as the Martins Ferry Hall of Honor inducted its seventh class of worthy individuals. The Class of 2014 consists of seven inductees and is the largest class, save the inaugural Class of 2008 which totaled 12.

“We have seven people who are very deserving of this honor,” Hall of Honor Committee President Richard Hord told the standing-room-only crowd of nearly 300 that gathered inside the Martins Ferry High School cafetorium.

The honorees included Jack Canfield; C.B. Messerly, M.D.; Calvin and Betty Pokas; R.A. Raimonde, M.D.; Peter Reddy; and May L. Wykle, Ph.D., R.N.

“This is just another great day for Martins Ferry,” Mayor Paul Riethmiller stressed. “Every year the committee has such a difficult time choosing who to induct. We have over 110-plus people on that list that we can nominate each year, and it gets tougher and tougher.

“This year when we did our vote, we had so many people bunched together,” Riethmiller added. “We try to do four or five each year, but this year we had seven people that were really close together, so we decided to bring seven in.”

Canfield, who was not able to attend the ceremony due to his busy schedule, was presented by Carmen Prati-Miller. He is best known for originating the best selling Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. He also holds the Guinness Record for most books on the New York Times bestseller list at one time.

“Jack has been called America’s No. 1 success coach,” Prati-Miller said.

Messerly, presented by his great-granddaughter Nannette Troyan, founded and served as the first chairman of the Martins Ferry Chapter of the Red Cross. He also served as the team physician for the Purple Riders’ football team for 18 years and was a 25-year member of the Martins Ferry Schools Board of Education. In addition, the old administration building was named in his honor.

“It’s quite the pleasure to come back to Martins Ferry,” Messerly’s granddaughter Dr. Donna Messerly said while accepting for her grandfather. “I still call this my hometown and always will.”

She said her grandfather was a wonderful man.

“I would get to spend a week or two with him every summer in Clarington,” she recalled. “I loved it because I could wear bib overalls. We would get in his Jon boat and we’d go fishing. I loved it.”

The Pokases, who were presented by Kim Collette, were award-winning journalists for The Times Leader. Calvin is a member of the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Hall of Fame, while Betty helped establish the Betty Zane Frontier Days and is still employed at The Times Leader as Area Editor.

“I told them I’m a writer, not a speaker,” Betty jokingly told the crowd. She deflected most of the attention to her late husband. She read part of a note from a St. Clairsville couple about how much Cal’s emphasis on track and cross country meant to her son and grandsons.

Raimonde, presented by Riethmiller, conducted free clinics to administer Salk Polio vaccine in Martins Ferry. He also served as president of the Martins Ferry Hospital staff and the Belmont County Medical Society.

“I’m pleased to be here and am very grateful for this honor,” Raimonde said. “It’s been an honor to live in Martins Ferry.”

He said during his 45 years of practice, he delivered more than 5,000 babies.

“I will cherish this induction for the rest of my life,” he noted.

Reddy, presented by Anthony Sarratore, was a Martins Ferry policeman who lost his life in the line of duty in 1928. He was also a member of the champion hose racing team in 1895.

“It is my distinct pleasure to induct Mr. Reddy,” Sarratore said. “He deserves to be inducted today.”

Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland gave a brief speech about what a policeman’s badge means. He told the audience that a Mr. Ned Smith had found a badge a couple of months ago and thought it was Reddy’s. After some examination, it was determined to be Reddy’s badge.

“That badge will be presented to you in the next couple of weeks,” McFarland told Reddy’s granddaughter, Patricia, who accepted his induction plaque.

Wykle, presented by the Rev. James Agnew, was the first African American to attend Ruth Brant School of Nursing. She recently retired as dean of Case Western Reserve School of Nursing. She was also the first Pope Eminent Scholar at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Human Development.

“When I was asked to present Mrs. Wykle, I was just blown away by her many accolades,” Agnew said.

“It is my pleasure to be inducted with Drs. Raimonde and Messerly,” Wykle allowed. “Today is especially special to me because it would’ve been my parents’ anniversary. They both loved Martins Ferry, especially my father.”

She then asked that all former nurses in the crowd to stand. Approximately 20 individuals rose.

“That just makes my heart feel so good because nurses make the world go around,” Wykle added.

All of the inductees received plaques from the H of H, as well as special accolades from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Congressman Bill Johnson, State Representative Jack Cera, State Representative Lou Gentile, Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede and City Councilwomen Kristine Davis.

Inductee plaques are on display in the Martins Ferry Library Auditorium.

Presentation of Colors was performed by Boy Scout Troop #62, while Karri Rose Haglock gave a rousing rendition of the national anthem. The Rev. Philip Van Dam gave both the invocation and benediction, while Martins Ferry Schools Superintendent Dirk Fitch gave a welcoming speech.

The Martins Ferry High School chorus performed “An Old Irish Blessing.”

The Hall of Honor is sponsored by The Citizens Bank.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com