Seeking to honor Preble Countians

By Jean Bussell - For PCHS

This article is the fourth in our series related to the Sara Swartsel Hall of Honor, sponsored by the Preble County Historical Society and The Register-Herald. Our co-sponsorship recognizes the natural partnership of the two organizations in recording the history of Preble County every day. This annual process provides each entity with many opportunities to collaborate publicly on the project in ways that promote the value of each entity to the residents and businesses of the county. The Hall of Honor was established in 2011 in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Preble County Historical Society.

In 2019 the Hall of Honor will induct its ninth membership class. Inductees must be deceased and have lived in Preble County at some point in their lives; further, they must meet one or more of the following requirements: have been outstanding in achievement in agriculture, arts, professions, politics, public service, education, or sports; or have a reputation that brings honor to the county, or personal commitment and service to the county; or had a lasting impact on the county.

You can make a nomination to the Hall of Honor by visiting the Preble County Historical Society’s web site at and downloading an application to complete and submit. You also may email the Society at or call the Society at 937-787-4256 and leave a message requesting a nomination form.

The deadline for submission for consideration for 2018 is Monday, April 1.

2014 Inductees were as follows:

Silas Dooley, Sr., 1786-1877

Silas Dooley, Sr. was the first recorded settler in Gasper Township. He cleared his land and helped clear the land where the Village of Camden is now located. Dooley was a tireless worker and man of great economy and self-denial. His marriage to Johanna Westerfield was the first one licensed in Preble County. Their 1830’s timber and frame home remains today as a centerpiece of the original homestead which has been in continuous operation by seven generations of descendants for over 200 years.

Dorothy Kiracofe, 1926-2005

Dorothy Aukerman Kiracofe fine-tuned her culinary skills at Mrs. Wagner’s Kitchen and took them to the Preble County Pork Festival where she served on the board for over 25 years and won many Grand Championships for her baking.

She was a Grange Deputy for over 50 years, 4-H leader for over 25 years, and volunteer with the Eaton High School Band, the public library, and special needs children and programs serving them.

Alfred Horatio Upham, Ph. D., 1877-1945

Alfred H. Upham was born and raised in Eaton where he excelled in school and then enrolled in Miami University. He graduated from Miami with many honors and completed graduate studies at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He held faculty and leadership positions at universities in Utah, Massachusetts, and Idaho before becoming Miami’s president in 1928, serving until 1945, the longest in the university’s history. He composed Miami’s Alma Mater and was honored by the naming of Upham Hall.

Martha A. Rizert Dye, 1930-1999

Martha A. Ritzert was orphaned in 1938 and then cared for by relatives. She was a trained educator and became an accomplished classical pianist. Music was a great joy and solace to be shared, and the Eaton Area Arts Council was founded to benefit countless children and residents. Besides her work with the Children’s Home’s renovation and services, she worked as a juvenile counselor and probation officer for adolescent girls. As a principal founder of the Preble County Historical Society, her vision led to the creation of the outdoor amphitheater at PCHS.

Jo Ann Lange, 1927-2010 and William E. Lange 1925-2012

Service to others, to her church, and to her community was a central part of Jo Ann Lange’s life. She served the Delta Theta Tau Sorority, a philanthropic sorority; operated the Pork Festival Short Order Haus with her husband for 35 years; worked as a poll worker and judge for the Board of Elections; was active in Preble County 4-H, as a band parent and FHA Mother at Twin Valley South, as a Preble County Farm Bureau member and leader for over 30 years; as secretary of her church, and as board member and volunteer at the Preble Count Historical Society.

William E. Lange, Jr., enjoyed farming and helping others. He and his father operated a seed cleaning business under the name William E. Lange and Son Certified Seed and Sales. Bill’s farm was only one of a handful in Preble County to be recognized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture as a “Century Farm,” operated by the same family for more than 100 years. Bill served his church as treasurer, his township as clerk, his community as board member of the Preble County Soil and Water Conservation and chair of the Farm Bureau, his school as officer of the alumni association, and his political party as central committee member and volunteer.

By Jean Bussell