TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence presented the state’s top civilian honor Thursday to two accomplished and inspiring Terre Haute women.
Susie Dewey, a long-time educator, naturalist and Bronze Star recipient for her service in World War II, and Eva Kor, a Holocaust survivor and founder of the CANDLES Holocaust museum, were each presented with Indiana’s Sagamore of the Wabash award, as Pence surprised both women Thursday during other, pre-planned events.
The governor gave Dewey her Sagamore in the afternoon while he was dedicating “Dewey Point,” part of the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area in West Terre Haute. Dewey purchased land on the east side of West Terre Haute and donated it to Vigo County to be used as part of the Wabashiki project.
But for her purchase, the land was likely going to become a commercial property, Dewey said Thursday night. “I was certainly delighted to save it for nature,” she said, adding she has often enjoyed bird watching in that area.
Later Thursday, Pence surprised Kor with her Sagamore of the Wabash while attending an event at the CANDLES Holocaust museum in honor of the late Chaim Weizmann, the first president of the modern state of Israel.
“I am very, very surprised and honored,” Kor said after receiving her award. Pence seemed to know all about Kor’s life’s story, the CANDLES founder stated. “He was very, very sincere and I am very excited.”
The Sagamore of the Wabash, launched in the 1940s by then-Gov. Ralph Gates, is traditionally the highest honor given by an Indiana governor. Past recipients have included presidents, astronauts, entertainers, athletes, volunteers, veterans and even Garfield the Cat, the well-known cartoon character created by Muncie native Jim Davis.
Sagamore comes from an American Indian term indicating a great person whom a tribal chief would consult for his or her wisdom.
“It seems to me today’s the day we’re recognizing the connection of Terre Haute to a very historic figure [Weizmann], but we’re also recognizing the contribution to this community of two remarkable women,” Pence said after presenting Kor with her Sagamore of the Wabash.
Kor said the award means a lot to her because it is a sign the governor supports her mission at CANDLES, a museum dedicated to forgiveness and in honor of twins subjected to Nazi experiments.
Dewey said the Sagamore means a lot to her because it comes from her fellow Hoosiers.
“That’s [an award] I’m glad to receive,” Dewey said. “This is from Indiana. That’s why the honor means so much to me.”
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Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org