Editor’s note: This post is Part 20 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.
Lynn Coyne: Community Leader
Lynn Coyne has worked a full career in Bloomington community involvement. He’s been an attorney, an assistant vice president for real estate and associate counsel at Indiana University, and now, at 71, he’s president of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).
After earning his IU law degree and starting his practice, Coyne took an unusual side job. “I was the first orderly at Bloomington Hospital. I learned so much from the nurses about life, about people
in difficult situations. You learn quickly about what’s important in life, and it
helped shape me,” he says.
Coyne retired from IU in 2013 but was called upon to return to the BEDC, where he had previously served as a board member. “Selling Bloomington is easy for me because I’m passionate about it.”
Lee Hamilton Gets the Medal of Freedom and Meets Willie Mays
Although he represented Indiana from 1965 to 1999 in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, former Indiana Congressman Lee H. Hamilton says that when he sat in the East Room of the White House on November 24, waiting to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, his thoughts might well have been those of any ordinary citizen.
Hamilton, 84, and his guests took advantage of the once- in-a-lifetime opportunity to mingle with the other recipients.
“I talked at some length with Willie Mays, a baseball hero of mine,” Hamilton says, adding that he also visited with 97-year-old Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who aided every major space program from Project Mercury through the Space Shuttle program.
Stanley Ritchie: Early Music Violinist
Trained in the classical style as a modern violinist, Stanley Ritchie has been concertmaster of the New York City Opera Orchestra, associate concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and first violinist of the Philadelphia String Quartet. But the work for which the renowned senior faculty
member at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music is best known involves reaching back to the Baroque era and early music.
He’s hailed as a pioneer of the modern early music movement in the U.S., and in 2009 was awarded a lifetime achievement award from Early Music America. “If I hadn’t discovered baroque violin,” Ritchie says, “I might be sitting in the back of an orchestra now.”
Laurie Burns McRobbie: Advocate for Women in STEM
Since becoming Indiana University’s first lady in 2007, Laurie Burns McRobbie has been a dedicated advocate for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.
In 2010, she founded Serve IT with Maureen Biggers, assistant dean for diversity and education in the IU School of Informatics and Computing. A service-learning course, Serve IT helps students secure for-credit internships where they help nonprofit organizations with their information technology needs.
Five years later, McRobbie feels the clinic is a success.
“We know Serve IT makes Bloomington better,” she says. “And it decreases the distance between the community and the university. That was a particular motivation of mine. That feels to me like it fits with my role and what I try to do as first lady at IU.”
Forrest Gilmore: Executive Director, Shalom Community Center
The Rev. Forrest Gilmore says he’s seen a transformation in the Bloomington community’s approach to homelessness: “We’ve seen a change from a divisive environment to one of real collaboration.”
Gilmore, 44, who became Shalom Community Center’s executive director in 2011, points to Shalom’s street outreach work with the Bloomington Police Department and its partnership with LIFEDesigns in developing Crawford Apartments as collaborations improving the lives of the homeless. More recently, the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association awarded $150,000, plus up to $200,000 in matching funds, to the Community Sheltering Project, enabling Shalom to keep its emergency shelter open at 919 S. Rogers St.
“This work is inherently humbling,” says the former minister. “Experiencing the imperfections in our guests, I’m taught how to accept those same imperfections in myself.”
Mary Catherine Carmichael: Communicator
Mary Catherine Carmichael, interim communications director for Mayor John Hamilton, has been enhancing Bloomington’s arts, economy, recreation, and social services since she moved here 25 years ago. She has such a talent for raising money that she jokes, “I don’t know why people still take my phone calls.”
WFIU-FM listeners may recognize her as host, for 10 years, of Ask the Mayor and co-host for 20 years of Noon Edition. For five years, she directed Leadership Bloomington–Monroe County, a program for aspiring leaders. She has been a park commissioner, a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and president of the board of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation. She has also served on the Bloomington Area Arts Council, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, and Hoosier Youth Philharmonic.
Susann McDonald: Acclaimed Harpist
Susann McDonald says she was “probably about 40” when she was asked to take over the harp program at The Juilliard School in New York City. “It was only at that point that I felt I’d truly arrived and this was probably what I was meant to do,” she says.
McDonald split her time teaching at Juilliard and the University of Southern California until Dean Charles Webb of the Indiana University School of Music came calling in 1981. “No school in the country had six orchestras [like IU],” she says. “The opportunities that gives to a harp program are immeasurable.”
McDonald built her program at IU into one of the world’s largest. In 1989, she created the USA International Harp Competition, staged every three years in Bloomington.