Editor’s note: This post is Part 19 of “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” a special retrospective revisiting some of the stories Bloom has published since its inception in 2006. The details in these stories have not been changed since they were originally written, but we have provided updates when possible. Each story highlights an individual who contributed to making Bloomington a compassionate, diverse, and creative community. For more stories from “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” click here.
Darren Root: Local Accountant Honored for Innovation and Foresight
For the second year in a row, M. Darren Root, president and founding member of the local accounting firm Root & Associates and the accounting- focused consulting firm Rootworks, has been named one of the most influential U.S. accountants by Accounting Today magazine and CPA Practice Advisor Magazine.
Root attributes the recognition to his promoting entrepreneurship in accounting and his pioneering use of technology.
He encourages accountancy entrepreneurship in seeking clients. Root & Associates has developed a niche with Indiana University and service-based businesses, attracting clients nationwide.
“Accounting is a profession that is rapidly graying. To attract young people, we need to get more in tune with current technology,” Root says.
Jan Bulla-Baker: Cooking Teacher
Though she runs the Bloomington Cooking School, Jan Bulla-Baker is a self-taught chef, and she aims to help people become confident enough to improvise. “Some of the best food I’ve made comes from leftovers,” she says. A former English teacher, Bulla-Baker opened the school in 2001.
She and other chefs teach some 600 people each year in the school’s kitchen in Uptown
Plaza, 115 N. College. The two-hour classes range in topic from soups to appetizers to international cuisine, and in levels from novice to experienced. Bulla- Baker loves the feeling of community that develops in the classes. “It’s kind of like a communion over food,” she says.
Vi Simpson: State Senator
Vi Simpson started her career as a newspaper reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area before working on the staff of California secretary of state and future governor Jerry Brown. Then, she says, “I got a divorce and moved with my two babies to Indiana,” landing in Ellettsville in 1978.
Simpson was elected Monroe County Auditor and moved into that position in 1980, the same year Charlotte Zietlow joined the County Commissioners.
“We pretty much changed how everything worked at the courthouse,” Simpson says, “and, as a result, we weren’t very popular.”
Simpson went on to serve 28 years in the Indiana Senate. She ran unsuccessfully for governor in the 2003 Democratic primary and was John Gregg’s 2012 Democratic gubernatorial running mate.
Jeffrey Wolin: ‘Pigeon Hill: Then and Now’
Jeffrey Wolin’s photo essay “Pigeon Hill: Then and Now” is prominent in a concurrent three-venue exhibition in Bloomington.
The project features then-and-now sets of photographs of residents from the low- income area of Bloomington known as Pigeon Hill. Years ago, Wolin shot hundreds of photographs of youths, then returned nearly two decades later to photograph them again.
Initially it was the 1986 murder of Indiana University graduate student Ellen Marks that drew Wolin to Pigeon Hill. “A generation later, another murder brought me back to The Hill and my project,” he says.
The exhibition commemorates his imminent retirement at age 64 as the Ruth N. Halls Professor of Photography at the IU Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts.
Guy Loftman: Civil Rights Activist
During his Indiana University undergraduate years, 1963 to 1967, Guy Loftman co- founded the IU chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), instigated protests, and was the first student body president elected on a civil rights, anti-Vietnam War, and pro-women’s rights platform.
Loftman has been active in the community since he arrived from Delaware as a freshman. And he vividly remembers the hateful, racist taunts fellow IU students directed at him because he wore a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) button that proclaimed “Black = White.”
Loftman has operated a law firm since 1975 and has been especially involved in the Monroe County Branch of the NAACP. “Monroe County blacks,” he says, “serve twice the time for misdemeanors and felonies that whites serve.”
Christine Barbour: Professor, Writer, and Now Gemstone Jewelry Designer
Making jewelry is an unusual twist for Christine Barbour, Indiana University political science professor and Bloom Magazine food writer. But Barbour, 60, has had an infatuation with rocks since her childhood days of searching for beach rocks and poring over books about rocks. “I like the way rocks look when they come out of the earth,” she says.
Barbour’s web- based jewelry business, dcbRocks.com, offers necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets created with natural gemstones—not faceted stones. Barbour also sells on Etsy and eBay and via social media.
She says that making her creations uses a whole different part of her brain than she uses to teach and write. “I’ve never done something that is art before— and I lose myself in it.”
Vi Taliaferro: Legendary Judge
Viola “Vi” Taliaferro’s nine years as a Monroe County Circuit Court judge specializing in juvenile justice earned her citations as Woman of the Year by numerous groups; Judge of the Year by several others; and Black History Month Living Legend status by the City of Bloomington. The Indiana State Bar Association even has an award named for her. She is known for putting the best interests of the child first and inspiring others to do good works.
Taliaferro was appointed to the bench in 1995 by Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, becoming the first African American judge in the state south of Indianapolis. “When I went on the bench, I didn’t know anything about juvenile law,” she says. “It was the toughest assignment I ever had in my life.”
Jean Creek: Bloomington Doctor Co-Founded Premier Healthcare
Jean Creek first became interested in medicine while sitting in the window well of Indiana University’s Owen Hall as a 9-year-old, watching medical students dissect cadavers.
Earning his IU medical degree in 1952, Creek practiced for six decades, counting IU President and Chancellor Herman B Wells as a friend and patient from the 1970s until Wells’ death in 2000. He also served as team doctor for IU football and men’s basketball.
In 1972, Creek co-founded Internal Medicine Associates, now Premier Healthcare, the “largest physician-led, multispecialty provider in southern Indiana.”
Creek established four scholarships for IU medical school students and another in the Jacobs School of Music. Playing the trumpet enabled the Evansville native to graduate from IU debt-free. “I made more money than my dad did teaching school,” he says.