Four individuals who left an indelible mark on Highland County and beyond — Ed Bousman, Benton Raymond “BR” Duckworth, Harriet Amelia (Hack) Fenner and Wenona Marlin — have been selected as the 2021 inductees into the Highland County Hall of Fame.
The same four were supposed to be inducted into the hall of fame a year ago, but the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hosted by the Highland County Historical Society, this year’s event will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22 at the Hillsboro Presbyterian Church, 201 E. Main St. It will be followed by a reception at the Highland House Museum directlty across the street from the church. The public is invited.
Following is a brief bio on each of the inductees provided by the historical society:
Bousman (1918 to 2011) — A radio and television evangelist for 49 years and a minister for more than 68 years, Bousman reached countless people all over the world. He received a bachelor’s degree from the Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary and a master’s degree in communication from Xavier University. He was pastor at the Church of Christ in Lynchburg and Allensburg.
In 1962, he started his “God Is Just a Prayer Away” radio ministry. The program was broadcast over 700 WLW, and many other stations every Sunday for nearly 50 years. In 1984, he started the “Preaching Christ TV” program, seen mainly on satellite in North America and parts of Alaska and South America. In September 1997, he started “Bible Voice Europe” on shortwave radio. He reached all countries of Europe, including Russia. In November 1997, he began “Shortwave Radio Africa,” reaching more than 140 million English-speaking people in three former British colonies — Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon. In June 1999, he went into Asia by Super-Power Radio Sri Lanka, reaching India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In 2003, “Preaching Christ TV Ministry” expanded through “Bible Voice Russia” to Western Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
Bousman was also a large part of Family Camp, which draws thousands of visitors to Hillsboro each summer.
Duckworth (1890 to 1996) — “BR,” as he was known, was a public school educator for 44 years, 40 of them in the Greenfield Exempted Village School District. While still in high school he taught in a one-room school, riding horseback 10 miles to and from his assignment in Washington County. Upon completing high school, he earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Ohio Northern University.
Following World War I service in the U.S. Army and as a teacher and principal at several schools, he came to Greenfield in 1916 as a chemistry teacher. While at Greenfield, he earned a master’s degree from Ohio State University. In 1924, he became principal at Greenfield, then in 1939 he became superintendent, a position he held until his retirement in 1956. Upon his retirement he was given the honor of superintendent emeritus.
Following retirement he engaged intensively in the management of the woodlands on his wife’s family farm. A practitioner of modern, scientific farming and woodlands management, Duckworth was active in the North American Fruit Explorers. He experimented with several fruits, including apples, paw paws, peaches and persimmons. He wrote several articles for NAFE’s journal North American Pomona. In recognition of his forestry work, Duckworth received the Ohio Forestry Association Conservation Award, accompanied by other numerous awards for forestry management accomplishments.
Fenner (1936 to 2019) — She was the first, and to date only, woman elected as a commissioner of Highland County. She was appointed to that post by the county Democratic Executive Committee to replace her late husband, Wayne Fenner, who died in August of 1971. Harriet ran for election to a full term in 1972, then was re-elected to two additional four-year terms in 1976 and 1980.
During her 14 years as county commissioner the county acquired the old Kroger building on Muntz Street in Hillsboro to serve as the permanent home of the Highland County Senior Citizens Center. She worked for construction of the Highland County Administration Building on Governor Foraker Place, renovation the Highland County Courthouse in 1976 and 1978, implementing the county highway numbering system, and establishing the first countywide squad system. Fenner was active in various state and national county commissioner activities. She was elected as the first female president of the Ohio County Commissioners Association and was an active member during her entire tenure as a commissioner. In 1981, she was chosen to represent Ohio as one of a group of county commissioners who met with President Ronald Reagan.
Fenner was employed by Ohio Bell, first as a switchboard operator in 1956. She continued with Ohio Bell, which later became part of AT&T, until her retirement in 1990. She was promoted to the marketing department as manager. Her promotion to a position in Columbus led her to the decision not to seek re-election as a commissioner in 1984. Prior to her retirement from AT&T, she led two data management teams. During her years as county commissioner and after retirement, Fenner was a supporter of the Highland County Senior Citizen Center as well as the Highland County Humane Society.
Marlin (1871 to 1945) — The daughter of Vance and Mary Ellen Porter Marlin, she a 1888 graduate of Greenfield High School. In 1892, she was living in Cincinnati and working as a stenographer for Procter and Gamble. By 1905, she was living in New York City, where she was a journalist, lecturer, author and leader in the suffrage movement.
Educated at New York University, she was employed by Harper & Row Brothers Publishing Company, traveled through Europe and South America, authored two books, “Will o’ the Wisp and Other Stories” and “New York and Paris Sketches.” In 1912, she reported to a New York polling place and refused to leave, claiming she wanted to observe the process. She was a speaker at many suffrage meetings. She wrote many letters to the opinion section of the New York Times. One such letter in 1915 stated: “The fact that many men today regard the vote with such little respect is partly due to the fact that they never did anything to earn it.”
In 1917, she joined the New York Chapter of the Congressional Union in traveling to Washington, D.C. to picket the White House as a Silent Sentinel, women who picketed the White House protesting President Woodrow Wilson’s lack of support for women’s suffrage. They picketed for six days each week from Jan. 10, 1917 until June 4, 1919, when the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed. After passage of the amendment, Marlin continued being active in the National Women’s Party. She died Sept. 8, 1945 in New York City and is buried in the Greenfield Cemetery.
Information for this story was provided by the Highland County Historical Society.