DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Two people, one couple, and one performing arts organization will be added to the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame at the 2019 induction ceremony in September.
They are Jessie Gooding, John Gower, Betsy and Lee Whitney, and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.
Jessie Gooding is the longest serving president of the Dayton chapter of the NAACP (1982-2002.) Under his leadership, the Dayton NAACP increased voter registration and pressed for reforms to end discrimination in education, employment, housing and law enforcement. He is co-author with Rosalind Vera Osinubi of Freedom and Justice for All: My Life and Dayton Civil Rights History.
John Gower has worked as Dayton’s downtown planner, director of community development, urban design coordinator, and most recently as reimaging strategist. The Living City Project he led has been called a catalyst for revitalizing downtown housing. He led architectural preservation efforts that resulted in the city’s Historic District Zoning and Landmarks Commission. His preservation advocacy continues even in retirement, and he has been a leading advocate for restoring the downtown Dayton Arcade.
Betsy and Lee Whitney have been exemplary leaders in arts, social services, history and business organizations. The Whitneys have been generous with their talents and resources. A past president and board chair of the YWCA, Betsy served on boards and/or fundraising committees for the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Visual Arts Center, Human Race Theater Company, Victoria Theatre Association, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Dayton History, Leadership Dayton, Dayton Foundation and Wright-Dunbar Inc. Lee served as president of Dayton Children’s, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Downtown Dayton Partnership and the YMCA, and as a board member of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, United Theological Seminary, and Westminster Church. The Whitneys served on additional nonprofit boards and committees too numerous to list here.
Nationally and internationally acclaimed local group on the dance stage and in film, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company has been a recognized cultural amenity in the Dayton arts scene for over 50 years, representing the Dayton region around the world. In this decade it has toured in Chili, China, Russia and Kazakhstan. PBS featured DCDC in the 2007 documentary “Dance in America: Dancing in the Light.” The film documentary “Sparkle,” which featured DCDC dancer Sheri “Sparkle Williams,” was selected to screen at Silverdocs, America’s largest and most prestigious documentary film festival in 2012. DCDC won the prestigious 2016 “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Revival for its performance of “Rainbow ‘Round my Shoulder” at the David H. Koch Theater in New York. DCDC was founded by Jeraldyne Blunden (1940-1999,) who was inducted in the Walk of Fame as an individual in 1999.
“We have another year of outstanding inductees. They are all excellent examples of the exceptional people who make this area a great place to live and raise a family,” said Harry Seifert, president and CEO of Wright Dunbar, Inc.
This year’s inductees will be honored at a luncheon at Sinclair Community College on Thursday, Sept. 26.