A few years ago, Dan Collignon brought an idea to the Rotary Club of Jasper.
Dan, who has two daughters, saw how Dubois County was great at recognizing individual community members and celebrating them. Looking at his two girls and his wife, his mother, and the many other amazing women in the community, he felt that exemplary women in Dubois County should be recognized in a special celebration specifically for them.
The Rotary Club agreed and the first Athenian, Jane Chappell, was named in 2012.
Now, with eight Athenians — Jane has been joined by Brenda Stallings in 2013, Kathy Tretter in 2014, Nancy Eckerle in 2015, Connie Nass in 2016, Tonya Heim in 2017, Kim Messmer in 2018, and Dr. Tracy Lorey in 2019 — the Rotary Club has unveiled a display at the Dubois County Museum.
Also an idea from Dan, the display incorporates the Greek roots of the Athena Award. Visitors to the museum step into a Rotary blue hall accented with white Corinthian pillars and a marbleized floor. The eight current Athenians have their images embedded on brass plaques with a brief biography and one of their favorite quotes.
There are 36 spaces for Athenians named by the Rotary Club’s Athena committee. The remaining spaces offer up the tenants of an Athenian as outlined by Martha Metz when she created the award in 1982. Each tenant is engraved on reflective glass panels.
According to Rotary President Laura Grammer, it was important to her that the viewers can see those Athenian tenants — live authentically, learn constantly, advocate fiercely, act courageously, foster collaboration, build relationships, give back and celebrate — superimposed over their own images as they view the display. “It gives them something to live up to,” she said.
Grammer worked with the Rotary Club’s high school chapter, Interact, to design and implement the new display. A close family friend, recent Jasper graduate Grace Truesdale, helped come up with the design with input from the Interact Club.
In addition to displaying 36 Dubois County Athenians, a mural of the Greek god Athena that Grace and her grandmother, Judy Bennett, created accents one corner wall.
Connie Nass donated her statue to be on permanent display in the new feature as well.
Work on the new display occurred with the help of many volunteers and donations. Grammer joked during the presentation that the pandemic allowed them to have the time and space to complete the project these past few months. She estimated volunteers donated more than 400 hours on the project and $7,500 in materials.
“The history of Dubois County is so rich but women haven’t been recognized for what they have done,” Grammer said. “Many of the women in Dubois county have had a huge impact, and now we get to recognize some of those women.”
The Athena Award Ceremony has been held annually in August since 2012. The event was cancelled this year with plans to reschedule it for the spring of 2021.
The display is open in the museum during opening hours which are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed on Mondays.