Eight Clermont County women have been nominated for the 2006 Orpha Gatch Citizenship Award.
Sponsored by the Clermont County League of Women Voters, the award is given annually to a local woman who exemplifies the energy, optimism, and trust of the early suffragettes by being actively involved in civic service and volunteer activities to better her community.
This year marks the eighty-sixth anniversary year of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment which granted women the right to vote.
Mrs. Orpha Gatch, who died in 1991, was an active suffragette who voted in the election of 1920 and helped form the Clermont County League of Women Voters in 1958.
Since 1997, the Clermont League has given out the award in her name to celebrate the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment as a reminder of the enduring debt that we owe to the early suffragists who paved the way.
“My grandmother believed in the same ideals and shared the same values as all of this year’s nominees,” said granddaughter Cathy Gatch. “The women nominated for the honor this year completely embody everything that my grandmother Orpha stood for.”
The 2006 nominees are (in alphabetical order) Jo Ann Beamer, Wanda Downey, Carolyn Maupin, Kathy McRoberts, Kathleen Rodenberg, Jean Schmidt, Margaret Ruanne Terwillegar, and Regina Theilman.
The theme for this year’s tenth anniversary dinner and award recognition ceremony is “The decade of dedication honoring amazing Clermont County women.”
According to Cathy Gatch, the nominees are all deserving of the award this year and that her grandmother would be proud.
“If my grandmother were alive today, she would be proud of the women that are nominated this year,” she said. “She was energetic, well-informed, and concerned about the world. She was involved in the politics of the area and dedicated her life to improving the lives of others through what she felt was her civic duty and responsibility.”
The Orpha Gatch Citizenship Award will be presented at the Annual Suffragist Dinner to be held at Eastgate Receptions Aug. 22.
Jo Ann Beamer
Lifelong Clermont County resident Jo Ann Beamer has been an educator and active advocate in community service her entire life. She served as the Clermont Northeastern Intermediate School principal before joining the West Clermont Local School District Board where she is currently serving as president.
She is a charter member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional women’s organization that supports teacher’s grants in education. She is a charter member in the West Clermont Junior Women’s Club which supports women in the business world, and recently organized a group of women who call themselves “The Red Hat Scholars.”
Beamer is the past president of the Mt. Carmel-Glen Este P.T.O., was the secretary at the Pleasant Hills Swim Club, and served as secretary of Eastgate Family Council which provides help and support for elderly and nursing home patients.
In August, Beamer and her husband Ron will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They have four children named Jodi, Barry, Matthew, and Randy.
Milford resident Wanda Downey has been actively involved with the Clermont County Board of Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities (MRDD) for more than 30 years. The parent of a child with a disability, Downey recognized the importance of special services for children and adults with special needs.
In the 1980’s, Downey was appointed an MRDD board member. For much of that eight-year term, she served as Board President. When that term expired, she was re-appointed a year later and is currently serving another eight-year term as board president. (All MRDD board member positions are voluntary.)
She regularly attends all MRDD events and meetings in an effort to educate the public about the needs of the people who benefit most from the services of the MRDD. Most recently, she worked the information booth at the Clermont County Fair.
Batavia resident Carolyn Maupin, mother of missing-in-action American soldier Matt Maupin, has achieved national recognition for her unflinching support of our troops.
Carolyn, along with her husband Keith, are the co-founders of the Yellow Ribbon Support Center located in Eastgate. Because of their efforts, Batavia has become the yellow ribbon capital of the world.
The support center’s efforts have allowed 6,000 packages to be sent to our troops overseas. With the help of the community, 90 computers were purchased and sent to Iraq to aid our troops to stay in touch with friends and loved ones back here at home.
On April 9 of this year (Matt Maupin went missing in Iraq April 9, 2004), Carolyn helped organize the “Let Us Never Forget Scholarship,” created for all of the fallen soldiers in the greater Cincinnati area.
Maupin also works full-time at West Clermont Petermann Transportation and speaks at many events in the community throughout the year.
Goshen resident Kathy McRoberts is the leader and coordinator of Caring Ladies Increasing Community Knowledge (C.L.I.C.K.)
This organization was formed after the tragic death of her daughter and three other Clermont County teens when the car they were driving in crashed. The teens, who were not restrained with safety belts, were ejected from the car. The four mothers decided to band together and do whatever was necessary to prevent similar future tragedies.
C.L.I.C.K. operates exclusively for charitable purposes. They educate the community about the importance of wearing safety belts, encourage young drivers to drive safely by sharing the tragic results of what may happen if they do not, and establishing and distributing college scholarships to Ohio students in the memory of their children.
C.L.I.C.K. also raised a memorial fountain at the Goshen High School in memory of the deceased students to remind others of the importance of wearing seatbelts.
Kathy is also an active member of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and participates on a county and state level.
Milford resident Kathleen M. Rodenberg has served on the Board of Clermont Counseling Center for eight years and has served as President of the Board for two years. In addition, she also served as the President of the Board at the county’s Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities Agency for eight years.
Rodenberg chaired the campaign for Victor Haddad that resulted in his appointment as Clermont County Municipal Court Judge.
She has been the President of the Bar Association and is an attorney who semi-retired from her practice in 2005. She is a certified mediator and served as Domestic Relations Court Magistrate from 1989-1997. She presently serves as part time Magistrate for the Municipal Court.
She lives in Milford with her husband Tim and their two sons, Nick and Brad.
Loveland resident Jean Schmidt is the first woman elected to Congress from Southwestern Ohio. There has not been a member of Congress from Clermont County since 1931 and she represents the second district of Ohio (August 2005 to present). She was the District 66 State Representative from 2000-2004. During this time, she wrote legislation to keep children safe from sexual predators, supported mental health issues, and secured the funding needed for local conservation and historic project efforts.
She created a 300-acre park system and helped bring a branch of the Clermont County Public Library to Miami Township during her tenure as a Miami Township Trustee from 1989-2000.
She is a past member of the Clermont County Public Library Board, the Phoenix Place Board, and the Mercy Health Clermont Board. She currently serves as an honorary board member of Clermont 20/20 and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Schmidt has dedicated her life to civic and community service in the county. She spends time teaching and listening to interns, stude
nts, and staff. She also volunteers on many community projects, most recently the Habitat for Humanity houses in Felicity and New Richmond.
Margaret Ruanne Terwillegar
Milford resident Margaret Ruanne Terwillegar is a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. NAMI dedicates its efforts to eliminating mental illness and improving the lives of those suffering from mental illness.
She is also a member of the Clermont County League of Women Voters and volunteers her time with Kids Voting, a program which gets kids involved in the voting process.
In 1999, Margaret participated by tutoring kids in the Who Said So after school program. She managed a food pantry before becoming a board member of the Milford Miami Ministries and recently completed a five-year term on that board.
She has worked with the Clermont County Suicide Prevention Coalition under the County Health Board and urged the forming of a 24-hour emergency suicide hotline that has grown into a fully staffed agency.
Milford resident Regina Theilman has devoted the past few years of her life to the children of Milford schools. Through her efforts, she formed an after school science program and helped found the Milford Academic Boosters. The Boosters came about after the school district contemplated cutting funding for the gifted students and their services.
Through the Boosters, she worked to find speakers, develop student enrichment activities, and develop classes. One of these activities is called the Summit, an after school social studies program that has just finished its third year. Regina’s efforts have attained national recognition and she speaks at national educational conferences throughout the year.
She is a single, self-employed mother who is also very active in her church.