The Rush County Chamber of Commerce announced today that Mr. and Mrs. Bob McGraw have been voted to receive the Citizen of the Year award. This is the first time that a husband and wife have been chosen to receive the award together. The selection was made by the total membership of the Chamber.
Earlier in the year a special committee was appointed by President Ed Roehling to select an initial list of nominees for the award. After careful consideration of all the nominees a final list of candidates were chosen and submitted to the entire membership.
The selection of the nominees was based on factors like personal achievement, contributions to Rush County, character, services performed for others and a demonstration of belief in the future of Rush County.
Mr. and Mrs. McGraw will be presented with the award at the November meeting of the Chamber. A permanent award will be displayed in the offices of the Chamber.
The McGraws have been instrumental in establishing classes in the public schools of Indiana for special education and the trainable handicapped. In 1956 a group of parents in Rush and Fayette counties got together and started a class for the retarded in Connersville. At the time the parents paid so much a week toward the teacher?s salary. Mr. McGraw drove children from Rush County to the class every day. This was the forerunner of classes in the public schools for special education.
The next fall the Connersville city schools hired a teacher and a driver was hired to transport the children from Rush County to class. This was the first class for trainable retarded children in the public schools of Indiana. In 1960 classes for the educable mentally retarded were started.
The McGraws were leaders in the formation of the Fayette Association for Retarded Children. Mr. McGraw has served as president of of the board and is currently a board member. The association was started in 1956.
In January of 1971, the F.A.T.E. Center was opened. The McGraws and other parents put out their own money to qualify for a loan for the facility. Mr. McGraw did all the electrical work himself and most of the maintenance.
The local organization for retarded children is just four years old and the result of the efforts of Bob and Marian McGraw. In 1974 the old Troyer Halterman building was purchased by members of the local organization. Named for Bob and Marian, the McGraw Center was officially opened on June 9, 1975. Currently there are six people working at the Center. The center operates like a business. The workers produce items on contract to other firms and are paid for their efforts.
Mr. McGraw attended school at Glenwood and Orange and in 1935 attended Indiana University. While there he worked as campus electrician. He has worked in Connersville and in Dayton and Vandalia Ohio as a process engineer and hard chrome plater for General Motors. They returned to Rush County in 1950.
Marion McGraw worked as an elementary teacher for many years. In 1960 she started teaching Special Education classes. She received her B.S. in 1948 and at the age of 59 received her Masters Degree.
Commenting on the selection of the McGraws as co-recipients of the Citizen of the Year award Ed Roehling, Chamber President said ?The McGraws have made a very significant contribution to the people of this county and Fayette County as well. They are truly deserving of the Chamber. I want to extend to them my warmest congratulations. I sincerely hope that many of their friends and admirers will be able to attend our presentation ceremony at our November meeting.?