HAYDEN — He would rather sit down with snakes than stand up to speak in public.
But Rodger Ruddick did indeed speak in public when he was presented with the Distinguished Hoosier Award from State Rep. David Cheatham (D-North Vernon).
The award was a surprise for Ruddick. He was helping at the Hayden Harvest Past Information Desk when he heard the call that he was needed at the Hayden Pavilion. Ruddick had received many calls for assistance during the festival, so he wasn’t suspicious.
“When I got to the Pavilion, I heard my ol’ buddy Pat Sullivan saying really nice things about someone. So naturally, I thought he was talking about someone else,” said Ruddick.
He was the only one in the pavilion who did not know that the people were assembled there just to thank him for his years of service to their community.
Only the governor of Indiana determines who will receive the Distinguished Hoosier Award. The award is personally signed by the governor and is designed to honor Indiana citizens who have contributed to the benefit of fellow Hoosiers.
Ruddick was selected for the award because of his decades of work to preserve the history of the town of Hayden and the citizens of Jennings County.
In addition to writing two books, “The History of Hayden and Spencer Townships” and “From the Hayfields to the Battlefields,” Ruddick’s leadership also is credited for completion of several historical projects.
His efforts include building and establishment of the Hayden Historical Museum, an extensive genealogy library within the museum, the Hayden Pavillion, restoration of Maple’s Service Station and restoration of the Sullivan Blacksmith Shop.
The award also honors Ruddick’s work to establish The Little Hoosier Historians, several community festivals and events and the Hayden Hall of Fame.
Speaking for the board of directors of the Hayden Historical Museum, Pat Sullivan stated: “We believe that you cannot know who you are and where you are going until you know where you came from and how you got here.”
“It was Rodger’s dream, then his continued leadership and countless hours of hard work, that has led us to this point. His impact has been felt by our whole community and will continue to be felt for many years to come.”
Ruddick is a lifelong resident of Jennings County. His parents graduated from Hayden High School and a family farm was absorbed by the Muscatatuck National Wild Life Refuge. He is employed by Cummins Inc. in Seymour as a materials analyst.
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