This year’s honorees are Mayor Judy Markowitz, Woody Shadid, Roger and Stevie Joslin and Ruth Waddell. (flickr/pasa47)
By Mike Matejka
For the second year, the McLean County Museum of History is hosting their History Makers Gala on June 13. This year’s honorees are Mayor Judy Markowitz, Woody Shadid, Roger and Stevie Joslin and Ruth Waddell.
This event is an opportunity to say thank you to diverse individuals who have contributed to our community. The Joslins have led numerous community fund-raising efforts and have served on many boards. Woody Shadid was Mr Pantagraph for many years, but more than that, a constant booster of our community. Woody could see a community problem, get people involved to solve it, and have some fun at the same time, which is a rare combination. Woody’s parents were immigrants who worked their way up, and Woody is someone who has never forgotten those roots.
The two people I know best are Mayor Judy Markowitz and Ruth Waddell. Judy is our best booster. She wants our community to enjoy a high quality of life, a place where people not only can prosper, but can enjoy themselves too. Every time you see Judy, you are greeted with a big smile and bubbly enthusiasm. At the same time, having worked with her when she was Mayor, she was determined to fulfill a vision and build an environment where Bloomington could grow.
People may not know Ruth Waddell. Ruth is quiet and unassuming, but she has a McLean County history story that deserves retelling. African-Americans had a hard time getting decent jobs in this community, often relegated to servant roles. When General Electric came to town in 1954, Ruth applied for a manufacturing job there. She was accepted, but somehow never got called for work, watching others bypass her in line. Ruth finally planted herself in the office at GE and let them know she wasn’t leaving until she had a job. This finally broke the logjam and Ruth Waddell was one of the first African-Americans to win a factory job in Bloomington. Soon her late husband Oscar joined her there. Both of them worked to organize Machinists Lodge 1000 at the plant, helping improve conditions for everyone. Ruth’s quiet determination opened the door for many others to follow.
I hope you’ll join me on June 13 in honoring these History Makers. McLean County has wonderful people from all walks of life and it is a great day when we can say thank you to them.
Mike Matejka is the Governmental Affairs director for the Great Plains Laborers District Council, covering 11,000 union Laborers in northern Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. He lives in Bloomington with his wife and daughter and their two dogs. He served on the Bloomington City Council for 18 years, is a past president of the McLean County Historical Society and Vice-President of the Illinois Labor History Society.
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