Each year the Third Congressional District of the State of Indiana gives the J. Edward Roush Award to someone who has given above and beyond the call of duty to the Democratic Party in our congressional district. The Award is named after J. Edward Roush, former Congressman from Northeast Indiana who served Indiana well in sponsoring legislation that built 3 flood control dams in the Wabash River Valley of Northern Indiana to control flooding, and he served the nation well in sponsoring legislation which started the 911 emergency telephone number system!
For over 50 years, Cora Smolinske has championed the causes of the Democratic Party. Cora joined the industrial workforce in 1943 at Flint and Walling in Kendallville where she manufactured 22 mm tracer shells for the war effort and earned the Navy E medal recognizing “Women on the Homefront”. She has been very active in the IAM union, and she founded the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) in 1975. Cora retired in 1995, but remains an integral part of the union to this day.
Cora has been a delegate to the National Democratic Convention four times (1976, 1980, 1984, and 1996). She is a current Noble County Precinct Committee member and Noble County Democratic Women’s Club member. Cora campaigns on foot and by phone for Democratic candidates and works the polls on Election Day.
Cora will celebrate her 90th birthday in July.
Charles B. Redd has been a tireless fighter for equality and civil rights, both in the Democratic Party and in everyday life.
Charles served 8 years on the Fort Wayne City Council from 1984-1992, two of those years as its President. In addition, he was a charter member of the Indiana Democratic African-American Caucus and Founder of the Voter Information Center.
He served as the Executive Director of the Fort Wayne Urban League. He was previously director for the Urban League in Marion, Indiana and in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Retirement found Charles involved on the boards of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, Anthony Wayne Services, Headwaters Park Commission, Commission on Appraisal and the Ginger Bread House. One of the many awards Charles has received was the first “Key to the Fort” presented by Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry on September 26, 2008.
A published author: We Fought the Navy and Won-- Guam’s Quest for Democracy (University of Hawaii Press), Doloris Cogan’s life as an activist began in the 1940’s as an advocate for the Guamanian people’s liberation from military rule. Her social and political activism stretched from Washington DC to Connecticut and finally to Indiana. A member of the League of Women’s Voters since 1956, Doloris has been involved in Elkhart Democratic politics for nearly four decades. Among her many duties over the years, Cogan ran for State Representative in 1992.
Sagamore of the Wabash recipient Charlie Belch’s involvement in Democratic politics began in the 1960’s, and his list of significant contributions is much larger than this space allows. Many programs of the party unique to our congressional district, the Breakfast Club, this Directory, and the Annual Dinner all owe their success to the original vision and hard work of Charlie Belch. Highlights of his service include: National Convention delegate in 1988 and candidate for Fort Wayne Mayor in 1991. Charlie served as both Allen County and Congressional District Chair.
Tom Smith began his political career as a coordinator for Birch Bayh’s US Senate campaign in 1962. Since that time he has been a Precinct Committeeman, County Chair in LaGrange County, Congressional District Treasurer and Congressional District Chairman for six years. His elected and appointed political offices include the LaGrange County Area Plan Commission, LaGrange Town Board, the LaGrange County Redevelopment Commission and a stint as Police Commissioner. Tom is now serving his 2nd term on the Lima Township advisory board. A former educator and school administrator in the LaGrange area for over four decades, he retired in 2000.
Dennis Tropp’s service to the party began at an early age, organizing the Young Democrats organization in the 1970’s. He was elected LaGrange County Democratic Chair in 1996, and served until his election to Third Congressional District Chair in 2001. His tenure expanded the role of the district into new and innovative areas, including training sessions for candidates and party leaders. In 2004, he was elected National Democratic Convention delegate, and served as Allen County’s Executive Director during the 2004 election cycle.
As a precinct committeeman, then as a candidate for both Warsaw City Council and State Representative in the 18th district, Steve Haines has demonstrated his willingness to do what ever task the party asks of him. Haines served as Kosciusko party chair for 13 years. He has long been active in both his union, PACE 6-0809, and his community. He initiated a union policy training program at IU South Bend, and is the founder of the popular Labor Day picnic in Warsaw. Haines is a member of the Warsaw Parks Board, and is active in the Boys & Girls Club and Toys for Tots. In 2006, Steve Haines was elected Chairman of the Third Congressional District Democratic Committee.
John Morgan has been active in Allen County Democratic politics for over 35 years. As a precinct committeeman, he has walked door to door in his neighborhood with countless candidates and officeholders. From helping former Fort Wayne City Councilman Jimmy Stier, to Mayor Graham Richard, Morgan has been key to Democratic victories in southeast Fort Wayne. John has held several Democratic leadership positions in Allen County, including City Chair and Executive Director. He is Chairman of the Board of Deacons at Friendship Baptist Church, a past board member of the NAACP and is a member of the Indiana Democratic African American Caucus.
Dale and his wife Fay have lived in LaGrange County for most of their married life. They just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on March 8th, 2003. They have four children, Deb Troyer, Karen Milleman, Sandy Ringler and Rob Sturtz. They also have 6 grandchildren, Ryan and Jenna Troyer, Tyler Milliman, Adam Ringler and Lucas and Parker Sturtz.
Dale started out in politics in 1980 when he was appointed Sheriff to fulfill the remainder of Sheriff Chrisman’s term. In 1982 he was elected LaGrange Co. Sheriff and then again in 1986. Since there are term limits for the Sheriff position in Indiana, he made a run for LaGrange Co. Council in 1990 to which he was also elected. A rare opportunity arose in 1992 to run for State Representative. Dale was also successfull in that race and remained State Representative until 2002. Dale Sturtz is the only Democrat in LaGrange Co. history to hold an elected office for 22 consecutive years. He always considered it an honor and a privilege to serve the people of this district.
Dale is also a member of the F.O.P. Lodge #187 of LaGrange, Scottish Rite of Ft. Wayne, A.A.R.P., State and National Sheriff’s Association and the Masonic Lodge of LaGrange. As of today Dale has come full circle and is again a member of the Merit Board of LaGrange County.
Mother, Grandmother, Democrat, Uber Communitarian. Betty has been a precinct committee person, making calls, giving rides to the polls, passing out literature, and making herself available to voters of her 3-11 precinct for 25 years. She’s worked tirelessly on campaigns for democratic candidates she believed would make a difference. PTA president for both Franke Park Elementary and Northwood Middle School, president of North Franke Park neighborhood association for 20 years, spearheading clean up projects and has distinguished herself as a person involved in city policy and a fervent watch dog in regards to protecting the natural beauty of Franke Park and the intent of the Franke family who wield the park to this city in the 1930’s. She is an excellent example of involved American citizenry and an inspiration to family, friends, neighbors, and all Americans dedicated to making their own little part of the world a better place to live.
James L. Koons has been at the forefront of Democratic politics in northeastern Indianas since 1944, when FDR was running for a fourth term as President. He has held the post of the Noble County Democratic Central Committee Chairman since that year for a remarkable 57 years. No other political figure in the state comes close to matching that tenure. A former Fourth Congressional District Chairman, who also served our party as delegate to the Los Angeles Democratic National Convention in 1960, Koons held political court in his Avilla grocery store for decades. It was a requirement of every Democratic office holder or politician wanna-be to stop by Koon’s Market, where Jim would serve up political advice from behind his meat counter. Koons’ longtime connection with Democratic state and federal officeholders helped bring funding to countless projects in Noble County over the years. One phone call from Jim was often all that was needed to cut bureaucratic red tape for every thing from a disability check to a needed sewer line. Koons retired and sold his business in 1992. Noble County Democrats elected him Chairman Emeritus at their quadrennial meeting in March 2001.
Few of us have experienced life under a dictatorship that suppresses basic human liberties. Dick Merren was born in Honduras during the reign of the notorious dictator Tiburcio Carias Andino. As a young man Dick joined the Honduran resistance and set up an underground press at great personal risk. Eventually, he could no longer safely stay in Honduras and his father sent him north to the United States in 1949. While not yet a citizen, Mr. Merren accepted conscription into the United States Army and served his new country in the Korean War.
In 1959 Dick went to work for International Harvester and joined the UAW. The ideals of democracy— in the community and the workplace inspired the young man, and he immersed himself in the organizations he saw that embodied those ideals: the United Autoworkers Union and the Democratic Party. Over the years he has held many elected positions in the UAW and currently serves as Chairman of the Fourth District UAW CAP Council, and is President of the UAW Region Three Retirees Council.
Dick has been involved in every political campaign in Allen County since 1960. The Fourth District has made him a delegate to the Democratic National Convention three times in the last decade! He currently serves as Assistant Vice Chair in Allen County.
The late Geneva Micklitsch began her political life as a young woman working in Indianapolis for Governor Paul McNutt in the 1930’s. She moved to Bluffton in 1936 and began the task of raising her family. During the administrations of Matt Welsh and Roger Branigan she worked in the Auto License Branch for eight years. With her children grown, Geneva’s need to serve her community lead her to help create the Wells County Council on Aging in 1976. Under her leadership, a nutrition center, a discount card program, transportation for seniors and a 100 unit senior housing complex were established.
Throughout her life Geneva Micklitsch has been involved with the county, district and state Democratic organizations. She was a coordinator for congressman Phil Sharp, and her hard work and leadership helped deliver Wells County to Jill Long in 1989. Among her many duties for the party she loves, her most recent was Secretary for the Fourth District Committee. Geneva is seen here with Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon receiving her Roush Award at the 13th Annual Fourth District Dinner. Geneva passed away in 2000.
In 1998 the Indiana Fourth Congressional District Democratic Committee presented a special award of recognition to former Democratic Congressman J. Edward Roush. Mr. Roush served under five US Presidents over a period of three decades. His dedication to the Democratic party and the principles it represents has served as an inspiration to us all. Accordingly, in 1999 the Fourth District Committee established the J. Edward Roush Service award, to be presented at our annual spring fundraiser each year to a volunteer whose donation of time, treasure or talent to the Democratic Party is deserving of special recognition.