Take a stroll through Dayton’s Wright Dunbar neighborhood for a lesson in local women’s history.
The Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame, located on the sidewalks on both sides of West Third Street between Shannon and Broadway Streets and on Williams Street, is covered in granite pavers commemorating the people who helped made the community great.
The women who have been honored are inspiring.
Nancy Horlacher, a retired history specialist at Dayton Metro Library and an advisor for the walk, created a biographical presentation celebrating the distinguished women honored there.
“Each woman has her very own unique story,” Horlacher said in a 2016 interview. “The strength of each individual shines through and is the center point of her achievements.
“I love hearing and then passing on the anecdotal stories about these strong women. Some of these stories are funny and some are sad, but they make these honored women human,” Horlacher said.
“The variety of ways these women have given reminds the community to continually try be the best one can be in all things.”
Get to know the remarkable women who have been honored.
Biographical information provided by Nancy Horlacher and the Dayton Walk of Fame
Lucinda W. Adams 1937-
Lucinda Adams is an athlete, coach, volunteer and teacher. She was a member of the famed Tennessee State University Tigerbelles track and field team and a teammate of Wilma Rudolph. Adams is perhaps best known for winning a gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay in the 1960 Rome Olympics for the U. S. Olympic Team. After moving to Dayton in 1960, she began her career in education at Roosevelt High School in special education and physical education. Lucinda Adams is past president of the National Association for Physical Education and Sports and has served on the Ohio Special Olympics Board of Governors.
Marie S. Aull 1897-2002
Marie Aull has been called the godmother of the environmental movement in the Miami Valley. Along with her husband John, Aull nurtured their woodland bordering the Stillwater River into a beautiful landscape of flowers, streams and natural growth. The land they named Aullwood became Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm and was later given to the public. It was one of the first nature centers in the Midwest and has served as a model and guiding force for the creation of other preserves across the nation. Aull died at age 105.
Suzanne M. Bassani 1940 -
Bassani is the founder of the Muse Machine, one of the most successful and widely emulated youth cultural arts organizations in the country. The Muse Machine is dedicated to providing opportunities for young people to view, experience and participate in artistic productions. Bassani is also a founder of the Human Race Theatre Company and helped form the Dayton Visual Arts Center.
Credit: Amelia Robinson
Credit: Amelia Robinson
HANNAH BEACHLER 1971-
Beachler grew up in Centerville, majored in fashion design as an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati and then went back to school at Wright State University in 2005 to earn a B.F.A. from WSU’s Motion Pictures Program. She began working on films as a set dresser in small movies and horror films. She won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film for Fruitvale Station and the Audience Award for the Best Film at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. In 2017, she was nominated for an Emmy and won the Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design for a video featuring Beyoncé. In 2019 she became the first African-American to win an Oscar for Best Production Design for her work creating the world of Wakanda for Marvel’s film, “Black Panther.”
Jeraldyne Blunden 1940-1999
Blunden was founder and artistic director of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, the world’s largest repository of reconstructed dance works by African American choreographers. The Dayton based company tours the world bringing the best of modern dance to new audiences. Blunden won international acclaim for her work as a choreographer and a teacher.
Erma Bombeck 1927-1996
Bombeck was a native Daytonian who made millions of people laugh with her down-to-earth humor. She was a graduate of the University of Dayton, and she began her writing career as a columnist for the Kettering-Oakwood Times and then The Journal Herald. Her columns became nationally syndicated and at one time entertained readers of more than 900 newspapers with her wry observations on family life. Bombeck authored 13 books.
Katherine Kennedy Brown 1891-1986
Katherine Kennedy Brown was a prominent figure in national and local politics for more than 50 years. She was the Vice Chairman for the Republican National Committee from 1944 to 1952. She helped found the Ohio Federation of Republican Women’s Organizations and was a delegate-at-large for eight Republican National Conventions. Her home and grounds were transformed into the Joan & Ray Kroc Community Center.
Hallie Quinn Brown 1850–1949
Hallie W. Brown was an educator, author, elocutionist, historian, civil rights reformer and women’s rights advocate. The daughter of former slaves, she attended Wilberforce University and graduated in 1873. She was a teacher and later became a dean at Allen University and the Tuskegee Institute. She served as professor of elocution at Wilberforce University for 10 years and was a leader in fundraising for the college. She helped to establish the National Association of Colored Women where she served as president for four years and as honorary president for the remainder of her life. The Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul, MN is named for her, as is the library at Central State University.
Nancy Cartwright 1957 -
Nancy Cartwright is best known as the voice of Bart Simpson on the popular long-running television show, “The Simpsons.” Cartwright was born in Dayton and graduated from Fairmont West High School in 1976. She began her career doing voice-overs for commercials on WING radio in Dayton. She attended Ohio University and later transferred to UCLA, where her career escalated. Cartwright has appeared in more than 20 movies and 80 television programs and has written an autobiography, “My Life as a 10-Year Old Boy,” as well as two one-woman plays. She holds Emmy and Annie Awards for her accomplishments in animation. Cartwright established a scholarship at Ohio University for Fairmont High School students to study speech, debate, drama or music.
Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell 1863-1944
Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell promised Dayton she would construct a new art museum if the community would pay for its operation. The challenge was met, and she gave $2 million for the construction. The building known as the Dayton Art Institute was completed in 1930, reflecting the Italian Renaissance style of architecture.
Iula O. Carter 1926 -
Mrs. Carter is a teacher, inventor and writer with a special passion for nurturing creativity in children. She taught in the Dayton school system for 20 years and wrote two books. She is perhaps best known as the “inventor of the portable nursery chair.” In 1990, she was authorized to establish a Dayton affiliate of the National Patent Law Association.
Credit: Jan Underwood
Credit: Jan Underwood
Jeanne Comer 1923–2012
Jeanne Comer founded the Dayton chapter of the Friendship Force, an international non-profit cultural organization working to promote world peace by creating friendships throughout the world. She was the first recipient of the Roselyn Carter/Friendship Force Lifetime Achievement Award.
Charlotte Reeve Conover 1855-1940
Mrs. Conover was a distinguished author, lecturer and historian, known for her pioneering studies of Dayton history and her generous support of others. She wrote articles for Atlantic Monthly, Ladies Home Journal and Harper’s and was the women’s page editor for the Dayton Daily News, writing a weekly column called Mrs. Conover’s Corner. She penned seven Dayton history books and encouraged poet Paul Laurence Dunbar in his writing career.
Electra C. Doren 1861-1927
Electra C. Doren trained in librarianship under Melville Dewey, the inventor of the Dewy Decimal System of cataloging books. She was the director of the Western Reserve University Library but returned to rebuild the Dayton Public Library after the 1913 flood destroyed the books and the building. Her forward thinking brought about innovations such as the card catalogue and some of the first bookmobile services in Ohio.
Credit: Jan Underwood
Credit: Jan Underwood
Christine Dull 1934-
Christine Dull, along with her husband Ralph, has dedicated her life to helping the cause of peace around the world. She and her husband founded the International Peace Museum in Dayton. She has been recognized for her work by the National Conference for Community and Justice and received the Atticus Finch Quiet Hero Award.
Charity Edna Earley 1918–2002
Lt. Col. Charity Earley was the first black officer in the Women’s Army Corps and commanding officer of the only organization of black women to serve overseas during WWII. Earley served the Dayton community after the war as well serving on various educational, corporate and humanitarian boards.
Cathy Guisewite 1950 -
Cathy Guisewite, a pioneer in cartooning, was born in Dayton in 1950. Her most popular comic strip, Cathy, appealed to many women of her generation with both humor and social significance. The popularity of her comic strip increased rapidly and by the mid-1990s, it appeared in approximately 1,400 newspapers, including the Dayton Daily News.
Credit: Lisa Powell
Credit: Lisa Powell
Gem City Sweet Adelines Chorus Founded 1970
Gem City Chorus is a member of Sweet Adelines International, a non-profit organization of women who sing barbershop harmony. The group of more than 120 women has competed at the international level 14 times and won five gold medals in World Competition. They are known as the “Queens of Harmony,” and their many wins have brought much attention to the area.
Lillian and Dorothy Gish 1896-1993/1898-1968
The Gish sisters were the stars of stage and the silent screen. These Ohio sisters (Lillian born in Springfield, Dorothy born in Dayton) were part of the amazing inception, development, growth and evolution of motion pictures. They debuted in D. W. Griffith’s 1912 film, “An Unseen Enemy.” Lillian, known as “The First Lady of American Cinema,” became the first woman director of a major Hollywood feature film, “Remodeling Her Husband” (1920).
Annae Barney Gorman 1862-1938
Barney-Gorman was a civic and business leader who founded the Barney Community Center, now known as Dayton Children’s. Her volunteer efforts in Washington with disabled soldiers during WWI inspired her to transfer that knowledge to the needs of local children. Her personal dedication to children in need made her a beloved member of the community.
Anne S. Greene 1920-2003
Greene was a Dayton philanthropist who gave her time, energy, leadership and support — both personal and financial — to a variety of organizations. She was the first woman to be appointed to the board of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and served as the president of the board of the Victoria Theatre Association during the crucial two years when the building was saved from demolition.
Virginia Hamilton 1936–2002
Hamilton is credited with introducing ordinary yet memorable black characters into children’s literature, becoming one of the nation’s most honored writers of contemporary children’s books. She authored 35 books. Hamilton received both the John Newberry Medal and the Hans Christian Anderson Award, the most prestigious literary prizes in children’s literature.
Allison Brooks Janney 1959-
This Academy Award winning actress is a native of Oakwood and has found success on stage and on the big and small screen. Janney won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2018 for her role in “I, Tonya.” She currently stars in the CBS sitcom “Mom,” which earned her two of her seven Emmy awards. In 2014, Janney won Emmy awards for her roles on both “Mom” and “Masters of Sex.” Janney is perhaps best known for her role as C.J. Cregg on the NBC series “The West Wing,” for which she received four Emmy awards and four Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards.
Virginia W. Kettering 1907-2002
Kettering changed the face of our region with her philanthropy. Through her vision and generosity, she benefited health care, the arts, museums, and the larger community as she touched thousands of lives for the betterment of the region. Her conception and organization of the Holiday Festival still brings joy to families and lives on today.
Evangeline Lindsley 1896-2002
A teacher and author, she taught history at Roosevelt High School for 46 years. When she was age 100, she published her autobiography entitled, “My Century: An Outspoken Memoir.” She co-founded Daybreak, a facility in Dayton for runaway children. She died at age 106.
Alyce Downing Lucas 1925-2020
Alyce Downing Lucas is known for being one of the organizers of the United Golfers Association, which in the 1950s helped integrate Blacks into the Professional Golf Association. She was the first Black woman on radio at station WDAO in Dayton. She was a longtime Dayton civil rights activist and YWCA of Dayton Lifetime Achievement award winner.
Bette Rogge Morse 1922- 2016
Betty Rogge Morse was one of the first women in the area to host a local TV variety show, The Bette Rogge Show aired from 1967 to 1972 on WHIO-TV. Some of her guests included entertainer Liberace, actress Loretta Swit, and actor William Shatner. Rogge Morse graduated from the University of Dayton in 1944 before attending Northwestern and Colombia universities for post-graduate work in English and drama. She also received her master’s degree from UD in 1977, the same year she started teaching communications at UD. She later had an interview show on local cable TV during the 1990s and early 2000s.
Phoebe Anne Moses (Annie Oakley) 1860-1926
Born in Darke County, Annie Oakley learned to shoot a gun at the age of 8. In 1875, she won a shooting contest in Cincinnati against a professional vaudeville stage shooter named Frank Butler. They married the following year. In 1886 she and Frank joined “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s Wild West Show and toured the world.
Zoe Dell Nutter 1915- 2020
Zoe Dell Nutter gave up a career in ballet when she accepted a position to promote the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939. Later, she was California’s representative to the World’s Fair in Brussels, which led to her becoming the “Flying Ambassador” to the Century 21 Exposition at Seattle and the New York World’s Fair. She earned a pilot’s license and worked in marketing for Piper Aviation to improve pilot safety, increase the number of private pilots and encourage women in the profession. She moved to Dayton when she married Ervin Nutter, owner of Elano Corporation, where she headed up the Small Aircraft Division and became one of the company’s pilots. Nutter was the first woman to chair the National Aviation Hall of Fame Board of Trustees.
Credit: Lisa Powell
Credit: Lisa Powell
Margaret E. Peters 1936-
Peters is a retired high school teacher who was troubled by the lack of adequate and accurate information about Black history for young people. Margaret took it upon herself to produce books, programs and educational opportunities to share Black history and information with students and the larger community. In 1995 she wrote the book “Dayton’s African American Heritage.”
Doris Ponitz 1932-2020
Advocating for community causes, Doris Ponitz supported many programs ranging from the arts, diversity initiatives and peace at home and abroad. Her work with the Friendship Force helped Dayton be recognized as the “City of Peace.” She chaired the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Committee, The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Association, Culture Works, and served on the Board of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. She received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Dayton.
Esther Price 1904-1994
Esther Price began making candy in Dayton in 1926 to help make ends meet during the Depression. Her candy became so popular that she stopped selling it from her porch and bought property on Wayne Avenue and set up shop there. She became one of Dayton’s first successful businesswomen.
Jane Reece 1868-1961
Jane Reece was one of the world’s finest pictorial photographers. She exhibited her haunting and lyrical photographs, reminiscent of the styles of Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston at the Dayton Art Institute and around the world. She was the first woman portraitist to be admitted to the Photographers Association of America.
Julia Reichert 1946-
Julia Reichert, a graduate of Antioch College, has been called the godmother of the American independent film movement. She is a multiple Oscar nominee and in 2020, with Steven Bognar, received the Oscar in the documentary feature category for their critically acclaimed film “American Factory.” Her film “Growing up Female” was the first feature documentary of the modern women’s movement and was chosen for inclusion in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Reichert is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a member of the advisory board of the Independent Feature Project. She is the co-founder of the New Day Films, a social issue film distribution co-op, author of “Doing it Yourself,” the first book on self-distribution in independent film, and a Wright State University professor emeritus.
Miriam Rosenthal 1901-1965
Rosenthal provided leadership and financial support to underwrite the Dayton Philharmonic and other important arts organizations. Upon her death community business and civic leaders organized a trust fund, the Miriam Rosenthal Fund, that enriches the arts in our communities and will be vital for many years to come.
Norma Ross 1934 - 2012
Norma and her husband, Robert “Bob” Ross, became the first African-American Mercedes-Benz Dealer in the world. Norma, a former Dayton Public School teacher and curriculum consultant, took over as president when Mr. Ross died in 1997. Ross was the only black woman in the world to own a Mercedes-Benz franchise and the only black woman to own a Buick and GMC franchise in Ohio. In 2001 she was chosen as one of the Dayton Daily News Ten Top Women. She was a trustee on the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra board and a co-founder and trustee of the Action Youth Outreach program.
Delores Russ 1921-2008
Russ and her husband Fritz Russ dedicated their lives to engineering and had a profound impact on the profession on local, state and national levels. She and her husband founded and developed Systems Research Laboratories, which became a leader in designing and assembling a complex digital computer system to analyze spacecraft signals and assist the U. S. Air Force with testing procedures for astronaut selection.
Credit: Lisa Powell
Credit: Lisa Powell
Betty L. Schmoll 1936-2015
Schmoll is a pioneer and inspiration in the Hospice movement in America. She is the founder of the award-winning Hospice of Dayton an institution that provides palliative care to terminally ill patients. Under her direction, Dayton became an acknowledged leader in the Hospice movement and became one of the country’s largest Hospice organizations.
Marian Schuster 1926-2007
Marian Schuster and her husband, Dr. Benjamin Schuster, were known for their philanthropic work and building a home for Dayton’s performing arts, the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center for the Performing Arts, in downtown Dayton. Marian Schuster was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati’s College of Music. She was an accomplished pianist and a medical social worker. She was involved in many community programs, among them the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Victoria Theatre Association and Medici Society of the Dayton Art Institute.
Josephine L. and Hermene L. Schwarz 1909-2004 / 1902-1986
The sisters were dancers, choreographers and ballet teachers who founded the forerunner of the Dayton Ballet, the nation’s second oldest dance company. As dancers themselves, they studied in Europe, and Josephine performed on Broadway. Their high standards were legendary.
Laverne Kenon Sci 1940-
Sci is an expert on the life and works of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Her love of Dunbar and his literature led her to many years of service dedicated to elevating the appreciation of the poet and his works in Dayton and across the nation. She advocated for the growth and expansion of the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial.
Credit: CARLOS SILVA
Credit: CARLOS SILVA
Sister Dorothy Stang 1931-2005
Sister Dorothy Stang dedicated her life as a missionary to the fight for the rights of rural workers and peasants in the Amazon region of Brazil. A member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, she went on to do adult faith formation with landless peasants who were granted small plots of land in the rain forest. She taught the peasants the principles of sustainable farming and rain forest preservation, started 39 schools and worked to create health care and first aid facilities. Although beloved by the people she served, while working to improve the lives of the poor and protect the rain forest, Sister Dorothy had run-ins with illegal logging operations, land speculators, and cattle ranchers. She was murdered by hired killers in 2005.
Louise Troy 1860-1941
The daughter of a Civil War veteran, Troy began teaching in Dayton in 1878. After schools were integrated in 1887, she was the only Black teacher that was retained and for several years the only Black teacher in the public school system. Young Black women who aspired to be teachers were sent to her for mentoring and practice teaching. Her pupils included Paul Laurence Dunbar and William O. Stokes, as well as many future educators.
Betsy Whitney 1930-
Betsy Whitney and her husband, Lee, have been exemplary leaders in arts, social services, history and business organizations. Born in Yellow Springs, Betsy Baldwin met Leon “Lee” Whitney in college at Ohio Wesleyan. The Whitneys have been generous with their talents and resources. A past president and board chair of the YWCA, Betsy served on boards and fundraising committees for the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Visual Arts Center, Human Race Theater Company, Victoria Theatre Association, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Dayton History, Leadership Dayton, Dayton Foundation and Wright-Dunbar Inc.
General Janet C. Wolfenbarger 1958-
Janet Wolfenbarger is the first four-star female general in the Air Force and a 1976 Beavercreek High School graduate. Wolfenbarger spent most of her career at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, culminating with becoming AFMC commander in June 2012. She retired in 2016. She also was in the first class of female cadets to graduate from the Air Force Academy in 1980.
Credit: Lisa Powell
Credit: Lisa Powell
Jean V. Woodhull 1920–2015
Woodhull was a creative naturalist who sought to preserve green space in the Dayton area through the founding of Cox Arboretum and her involvement in RiverScape and Wegerzyn Gardens. She served on the boards of the American Horticultural Society and was director of the Garden Club of America.
Alice G. Woodward 1915–2000
As Dayton’s most enthusiastic and successful historic preservationist, Woodward saved more than 40 buildings and advised and aided other preservationists. She received many awards for her successes and helped revitalize and revive many of Dayton’s historic neighborhoods. In a 1998 Dayton Daily News story she said, “I just like old houses and I like to be busy, and it keeps me out of the bars.”
Rosamond M. “Roz” Young 1912–2005
Young, an educator, journalist and author, was born in Dayton and graduated from Steele High School. She was an educator for 30 years. She worked for 25 years as a journalist for the Dayton Journal Herald and the Dayton Daily News. Her columns highlighted history, culture and everyday life in Dayton.
About the Author