It’s so nice to have a hometown hero. It gives those of us from very small towns an extra little boost of pride for accomplishments coming from right next door. Who would have thought? I have known Hunter Armstrong since he was about 4 or 5, when he followed older brother, Jake, into our Cherub Choir at church.
He came, anxious to sing like his brother, and always a willing and cooperative participant. He was little, with the biggest, most expressive eyes. During the five or so years he was with us, he willed his sweet soprano voice, often in many keys, to drop to the level of Jakes. Through his early teens, he worked, singing in the church musical, teen choir, and high school musicals. The last time I sang with him, in the adult choir, he towered over all of us, and his deep, resonant bass voice, I think, was even a surprise to him.
One lovely memory I have of him occurred when Jake was playing the part of Oliver in the Little Theatre musical. He and his mother, Edie, who also has a voice like an angel, were singing their duet on stage during a rehearsal. Hunter crawled into my lap and began to sing, again, at that time, in many keys, Jake’s solo. He knew every word and sang from beginning to end with such enthusiasm and happiness, that I knew he would one day become someone very special. Today, his singing and acting are rich, and he has distinguished himself in an entirely different area, while remaining humble and a gentleman. He is certainly someone very special.
For a small midwestern area, our county has yielded a number of heroes. Victor Donahey served as the 50th governor of Ohio from 1923-1919, and went on to become a US senator. His daughter-in-law, Gertrude Walton Donahey, was the first woman elected to the statewide office of treasurer of Ohio.
Alta Weiss was an early semi-professional female baseball player who went on to become a physician. Weiss grew up in Ragersville. She began to pitch for boys’ baseball teams at the age of 14. At 17, she joined a men’s semi-professional team, the Vermilion Independents. Some 1,200 people turned out to see her make her debut: She gave up only four hits and a single run in five innings.
Soon, special trains were being run out from Cleveland whenever she pitched. When she appeared in the Cleveland Naps’ League Park, more than 3,000 people paid their way in to see her. Her baseball skills were good enough to put her through medical school at the Starling Medical College, where she was the only female to graduate with the class of 1914.
Elliott Nugent (1896-1980), an American actor, playwright, writer, and film director, was born in Dover. He was the son of actor J.C. Nugent. Nugent was a college classmate (and lifelong friend) of fellow Ohioan James Thurber. Together, they wrote the Broadway play “The Male Animal” (1940) in which Nugent starred with Gene Tierney. He directed the 1942 Warner Bros. film version of the play, which starred Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland, as well as many Bob Hope films. During his career, he directed 32 films. His final assignment as a film director was “Just for You” which was released in 1952 and starred Bing Crosby, Jane Wyman and Ethel Barrymore.
Of course, everyone has had a time or reason to brag about coming from the same area as baseball great, Cy Young, or legendary Ohio State football coach, Woody Hayes, who played for Newcomerstown High School and was head football coach at New Philadelphia High School in the late 1930s.
Dover High School graduate, Bob Peterson, has earned two Academy Award nominations for his work on screenplays of the Pixar films, “Finding Nemo” and “Up.”
Isn’t it nice that there are people who can create a ripple in our otherwise flat, ordinary days? And isn’t it nice for our young people to have such talented diverse heroes to try to emulate? In these troubled times, we really need people who inspire us and remind us that the world isn’t all bad.
Three cheers for the Hunters of the world.
(Editor’s note: If you know of a senior who is unique and deserves a story, please e-mail Lee Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include contact information so she can share their story with our readers.)
Original posted at www.timesreporter.com