NASA astronaut Anne McClain, national Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning and the Rev. Percy “Happy” Watkins of Spokane could all be inducted into the Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame this spring.
Members of the community nominated 150 people for inclusion in the hall, 18 of whom were chosen as finalists. Previous inductees include Bloomsday founder Don Kardong, Spokane author Jess Walter and the Rev. Bernard Coughlin, former president of Gonzaga University.
One nominee will be chosen from each of six categories: arts and letters, education, economic development and business, innovation and leadership, and public service and philanthropy.
Watkins said he was honored to be included.
“I was thankful and grateful that someone thought about me,” he said. “I’ve been retired for two years, and people still remember me.”
Watkins is well known for his delivery of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, was a longtime chaplain at Deaconess Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital and retired as pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church.
Deb Johnson said she was happy to be included on a list with other influential educators such as Raymond Reyes, the chief diversity officer at Gonzaga University, and Manning.
Johnson, who was a teacher for 37 years, said she now spends much of her time educating the community about the needs of gifted children.
“Just because a student is gifted doesn’t mean they’re a happy and healthy kid,” she said.
Reyes has worked for Gonzaga for 31 years said he has worked to educate the area about inclusion, equity and social justice for most of his life in Spokane. He said he and other activists worked for years to push back against white supremacist groups in the area.
Each person inducted into the hall will receive a key to the city and be included in the library’s Citizen Hall of Fame website. Sarah Bain, the director of development at the Spokane Library Foundation, said the inductees may soon be featured in a physical hall of fame display that is in development. The induction ceremony on May 1 is also a fundraiser for the foundation.
The event will make several posthumous inductions including Spokane musician and music store owner Ruth Sampson Ayers, who died in 1991; John Moyer, a state legislator and physician who delivered 7,500 babies during a 30-year career, who died in 2014; Eric and Ina Johnston, business owners and philanthropists who started the Johnston-Fix Foundation; and Ed Tsutakawak, a printer and artist who brought a Japanese planner to Manito Park to create the Japanese Garden, who died in 2006.
The finalists are:
Arts and Letters
Mike Kobluk: Former director of performing and visual arts for Expo ’74.
Karen Mobley: Artist, writer and former arts director for the city of Spokane.
Chris O’Harra: Co-founder of Auntie’s Bookstore.
Deb Johnson: Former principal of Lidgerwood and then Hutton Elementary before becoming principal of Libby Center. Co-founder of Prodigy Northwest.
Mandy Manning: National Teacher of the Year, Joel E. Ferris High School Newcomer Center, English development teacher.
Raymond Reyes: Associate academic vice president and chief diversity officer at Gonzaga University.
Economic Development and Business
Mark Camp: Local business owner, including The Shop, Anvil Coffee
John “Jack” Heath III: President and COO of Washington Trust Bank
Jeff Philips: President and CEO of Rosauers Supermarkets
Innovation and Leadership
Toni Lodge: CEO of the Native Project
Mary Ann Murphy: Former executive director of Partners with Families and Children
Rusty and Nancy Nelson: Retired Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane directors
Public Service and Philanthropy
Sister Madonna Buder: Roman Catholic nun, philanthropist and Ironman triathlon competitor
Lynne Everson: Needle exchange coordinator at Spokane Regional Health District
The Rev. Percy “Happy” Watkins: Retired pastor at New Hope Baptist Church
Science, Health and Medicine
Hrair Garabedian: Retired pediatric cardiologist, adult congenital cardiologist and neonatologist at Providence Center for Congential Heart Disease
Eric S. Johnson: Clinical assistant professor at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Anne McClain: NASA astronaut
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.