Springfield’s A.B Graham, the founder of 4-H, inducted into regional Walk of Fame

A.B. Graham, who founded 4-H in Clark County, was one of five individuals and one group inducted into the Dayton Region Walk of Fame on Wednesday during a luncheon at Sinclair Community College.

Graham, a native of Champaign County and considered the founding father of 4-H programs nationally, died in 1960.

His granddaughter, Barbara Sydnor, accepted the award in his honor and said, “He was just such a kind, open-hearted, open-minded man that would be willing to hear your ideas and try to listen carefully and make them part of what he did.”

Sydnor explained that Graham built 4-H clubs because he noticed that there was nothing for children to do after school. He wanted them to be able to learn from each other and create friendships.

“It went from that little place in Champaign County all the way across the United States,” Sydnor said.

In 1905, Graham became the first superintendent of Agricultural Extension at The Ohio State University. He later served in the Extension office in Farmingdale, N.Y., and nationally in Washington D.C. as the federal Extension Director.

Graham began holding Boys and Girls Agriculture Club meetings in the basement of a building in Springfield. These meetings were the precursor to 4-H. which now serves youth in every state in America.

Another Springfielder, singer and performer John Legend, was inducted into the same Walk of Fame in 2021.

Others inducted Wednesday to the new class were: Phyllis G. Bolds, Neal Gittleman, Roger Glass, Sharon Rab and Guided By Voices.

“This is an opportunity for us to recognize the achievements and the contributions that individuals, groups and organizations make to the Greater Dayton region and beyond,” said Dan Sadlier, chairman of the Walk of Fame Committee.

Founded in 1996, the Walk of Fame recognizes individuals with outstanding achievements in the arts, education, invention, community service, military, philanthropy and more.

Family, friends and the community gathered to recognize the contributions the inductees made to the community. Some awards were accepted by family members and friends in their honor.

Bolds, who died in 2018, was an African American woman internationally known in the field of aircraft dynamics.

Bolds began her career as a physicist with the United States Air Force in November 1955. While working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, her achievements were numerous and astounding and included the publication of 30 technical documents and working with over 40,000 scientists, scholars, and expert on the design, development and deployment of the B-2 Stealth Bomber.

Bold’s son, Kevin, added that his mother’s legacy is continuing to live on through her grandchildren. He said they are studying in various fields including chemistry, engineering and education.

Gittleman, the artistic director and conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, said he was “deeply humbled” to be alongside the likes of notable Daytonians.

Gittleman has given the Dayton region a world-class orchestra and educational programming for almost three decades. One of his initiatives was the development of the Stained Glass Concert Series which brings the orchestra to Dayton’s African American community through concerts at neighborhood churches and in conjunction with the church’s choir. Another initiative of Gittleman’s is the SPARK program (School Partners with Artists Reaching Kids), which integrates the orchestra’s musicians with eight area schools’ musical curriculum.

A pillar of the Dayton business and philanthropic community, Glass focused on quality and consistency in making Marion’s Piazza recognized locally and nationally.

Glass died at the age of 79 on Aug. 24.

Glass was a founding board member of Aids Resource Center Ohio, now Equitas Health, and championed the rights and dignity of those affected by HIV/AIDS from the early 1980s on. He was also an avid supporter of Chaminade Julienne High School and the University of Dayton.

A leader in the areas of arts, literature and education, Rab is the founder of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Rab taught English at both Kettering Fairmont High School and Miami University, Oxford. She has served on numerous local, state, and national boards in the areas of arts, literature and education, including the Dayton Council on World Affairs and the Dayton Peace Process Committee. Rab has also been the executive director of the Muse Machine’s Creative Education Institute.

Lastly, Guided By Voices, described as “forefathers of lo-fi rock,” was founded by lead singer Rob Pollard, a Dayton native and Wright State University graduate.

For over 30 years, this independent band has released 35 albums and has sold thousands of records on private labels.

The band continues to play and release albums with its latest album Crystal Nuns Cathedral released March 4.

The Walk of Fame is located in the Wright Dunbar District and managed by Wright Dunbar, Inc.

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