Schickel awarded Sagamore of Wabash
Lanesville’s Peter J. Schickel was a fixture at Harrison County Council meetings throughout this decade and the last orchestrating who would say a prayer before each meeting. Schickel would advise the one praying to help the councilmembers separate their needs from their desires. The many years he spent recruiting Harrison County preachers and pastors to come to the meetings was just icing on the cake of a long career serving the county.
Schickel was a county councilman for 30 years, from 1958 to 1988, missing only one meeting, to attend his daughter’s wedding.
For that service, and much more in his hometown of Lanesville, Schickel was presented with the highest honor an Indiana resident can receive Monday night at the council meeting.
Scott Fluhr, on behalf of Gov. Eric Holcomb, surprised Schickel with the Sagamore of the Wabash award.
‘I was never so shocked as I was last night,’ Schickel said Tuesday morning.
Schickel said a lot of ‘somebodys’ helped him get the award, including his wife, Joan, and family.
Marcia Dodge, the current prayer coordinator, asked Schickel to come to the meeting to introduce Pastor Edith Bleecker, of Lanesville and Hursttown United Methodist churches.
‘Maybe I’m not dressed for the occasion, but we’re still celebrating in Lanesville,’ Schickel said while wearing a Lanesville baseball state championship T-shirt and hat. ‘Our baseball team won state. Last year, we almost won, so we took care of it this year. Those boys, they prayed before every game. It must have paid off. So there is power in prayer.’
After Bleecker led a prayer, Fluhr began the special presentation.
He said Gov. Ralph Gates (1945-1949) attended a meeting with the governor of Kentucky and leaders of Ohio. Gates learned the Kentucky governor planned to honor his guests by naming them Kentucky Colonels. Gates and his staff decided Indiana should have a similar honor to award in return, Fluhr said.
‘And besides, as we all know, Indiana should never be outdone by Kentucky in anything,’ he joked. ‘Thus, the Sagamore of the Wabash was born.’
Native American tribes in the Midwest used the term Sagamore to denote great and respected individuals of the tribe from whom the chief might seek wisdom and advice when making decisions.
The honor has been bestowed on individuals who contributed greatly to Indiana. It has been awarded to astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, doctors, politicians, business people and ordinary residents.
‘I’m honored to be able to present one tonight to someone who more than meets the criteria of contributing greatly to our community and our state and someone that leaders of this county and state have looked to for wisdom and advice for many decades,’ Fluhr said before reading the governor’s inscription. ‘One Peter J. Schickel, distinguished by his humanity in living, loyalty in friendship, wisdom in counsel and his inspiration in leadership … I do hereby appoint him a chieftain upon my staff with the rank and title of Sagamore of the Wabash … ‘
Following the award, those gathered gave a standing ovation for Schickel. Council chair Gary Davis called for break in the meeting so everyone could congratulate him.