Gov. DeWine was inducted into the Walk of Fame Class of 2020 alongside John Legend, educator and activist, Hallie Quinn Brown (1850-1949) , scientist and inventor, William Hale Charch (1898-1958) and Medal of Honor recipient, A1C William H. Pitsenbarger (1944-1966).
“I am so proud to be a part of this group,” Legend said in a pre-recorded video message that was projected during the luncheon. “I’m grateful to everybody in Springfield, in Dayton and in the surrounding area. … I’m so excited to see my spot on the Walk of Fame next time I visit Dayton.”
Stephens, Legend’s father, accepted the award on his son’s behalf and spoke to the audience about the important role the Greater Dayton community played in supporting Legend along his journey.
“If I could say one thing,” Legend said. “I would say it’s important that we continue to invest in our young people and make sure schools are well funded and we particularly make sure we don’t forget about the arts and arts education. If we want more luminaries that are going to join the Walk of Fame in this area, we need to make sure we give them an opportunity to create, to perform, to cultivate arts in their lives. So hopefully we will all continue to do that and I’ll do my part.”
Beginning with the 1995 Inaugural Class induction of Orville and Wilbur Wright, more than 180 individuals and organizations have been inducted into the Walk of Fame. Tuesday’s celebration of the 2020 class was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Walk of Fame’s commemorative stones are located on both sides of the sidewalks along West Third Street in the Wright Dunbar Historic Business District, between Broadway Street and Shannon Street.
DeWine said he and Fran visited the Walk of Fame on Tuesday morning to see “where they put him,” and that he was especially happy to see he was close to the stone of Wright Brothers historian Jerry Sharkey (class of 2015).
“Then not too far down from me is Paul Laurence Dunbar,” DeWine said. “So, (I’m in) pretty great company.”
In his acceptance speech, DeWine reminisced on some of he and Fran’s first date nights in Dayton and the significance that the Dayton region holds for their family.
“I’m very optimistic about the future of the Miami Valley and frankly about the future of Dayton,” DeWine said. “We are really a people in the Miami Valley who dream big, but we’re not just dreamers. We’re also people like the Wright Brothers who roll up our sleeves and then go get it done. So I’m optimistic.”
Awards for Brown, Charch and Pitsenbarger were accepted on their behalf by the individuals who nominated them for the Walk of Fame.
-Brown was a Wilberforce University graduate and professor. Among other accomplishments, she would go on to help reform and lead the national Civil Rights Movement and fight for women’s rights. Brown also helped establish the National Association of Colored Women.
Brown is buried at Massie’s Creek Cemetery in Cedarville.
-Charch, born in Dayton and a graduate of Stivers High School, invented moisture-proof cellophane and contributed to the development of Teflon, Orlon, Dacron and Lycra.
Charch is buried in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton.
-Pitsenbarger was born and raised in Piqua before joining the U.S. Air Force after graduating high school. Pitsenbarger is remembered for his heroism and sacrifice on April 11, 1966, in the Battle of Xa Cam My in Vietnam.
During the battle, Pitsenbarger was aboard a rescue helicopter responding to a call for evacuation of casualties, according to the Walk of Fame program. Pitsenbarger rode a hoist to the ground where he coordinated rescue efforts, cared for the wounded, and prepared casualties for evacuation. Pitsenbarger stayed behind to perform medical duties during a period of heavy assault by a large Viet Cong force. He courageously resisted the enemy, distributed vital ammunition to his fellow soldiers, repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire and returned fire whenever he could. Airman Pitsenbarger was fatally shot and perished while saving the lives of wounded soldiers on the ground.
Pitsenbarger is buried in Miami Memorial Park Cemetery in Covington.
Nominations for the 2021 induction ceremony are now being accepted until Jan. 31, 2022. Anyone can nominate online at daytonregionwalkoffame.org.