SYRACUSE – The Man and Woman of the Year awards were given to two members of the Kosciusko County Republican Party during the GOP Hall of Fame dinner Tuesday night.
“The 2019 Republican Hall of Fame recipients are long-time Republicans and public servants, Sue Ann Mitchell and Merle Holden,” said Mike Ragan, county party chair.
“The Republican Hall of Fame Award was started by then-Republican County Chairman Jean Northenor some 40-plus years ago to honor outstanding citizenship, party loyalty and a consistent commitment to supporting and helping the Kosciusko County Republican Party,” Ragan said. “It’s a very hard process for us to narrow it down to who it’s supposed to be.”
Neither award winner knew beforehand they had won the award.
“I was totally shocked,” said Holden, who has an insurance company in Nappanee.
“I was ready to get up and clap for the person that was getting the award,” Holden said, when he realized his name was being called.
Mitchell, president of the Kosciusko County Council, said, “All I could think of was there were so many people more deserving than myself. There were so many people (at the dinner) that do so much for the party.”
While Holden said this is the first time he received the award, Mitchell said this is her second time. She thought the last time was in 1996.
“Their service to the community and the party is exemplary,” Ragan said.
Each has contributed to the county’s Republican Party in their own way.
The headquarters is in Warsaw and Mitchell says she has been taking time to help out at the headquarters, along with being involved in the party for 35 or 40 years. She also said if Ragan calls up and needs anything, she alway tries to help out.
Holden has been a precinct committeeman since 1984 and has been on the election board for the past 10 or 12 elections. He also attends numerous annual events, such as the fish fry, among others.
Both Mitchell and Holden said they go to the Hall of Fame dinner every year.
The Hall of Fame dinner was held aboard the S.S. Lillypad II, which is moored at the Frog Tavern in Syracuse.
Usually, Northenor presented the awards, but she was unable to attend for the first time in the awards’ history due to an injury. Ragan presented the award in her stead.