Menke to be honored as Golden Hoosier


HUNTINGBURG — Phyllis Menke thought her presence at Tuesday’s Huntingburg Common Council meeting pertained to her family’s company, OFS.

She was in the audience with her son, Hank, head of the company, when she learned the real reason she was there.

Her surprise was evident as she clasped her hands over her mouth after hearing that she was a State of Indiana Golden Hoosier Award honoree.

Mayor Steve Schwinghamer told those in attendance that he received word from the state that Menke will receive the honor in September.

“Over the years, there’s probably not anybody that’s done more to make Huntingburg the city that it is than her and her family, but mostly her,” Schwinghamer said Wednesday. “I felt like it was it was time that she got her recognition for all the things that she’s done.”

The Golden Hoosier Award, sponsored by Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch in partnership with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, recognizes outstanding seniors for their service to their communities. It is the highest honor bestowed on a senior in Indiana.

Menke, 96, and her late husband, Bob Menke, have four adult children and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her family is important to her, as is the legacy of her family’s company, OFS Brands. She’s helped in the family business by being an ambassador, so to speak, by leading tours and giving historical information talks about the company and the family.

Menke also helps with community endeavors, such has funding and making sure that new fencing was installed around Fairmount Cemetery in Huntingburg. Her more notable work involves preserving Old Town Hall.

She was heavily involved in restoring the Geiger Street building, an endeavor that started in the 1970s; at that time, she convinced her mother, Marian McMurtrie, to provide funding for the restoration. Since then, Menke has made donations to help with the building’s upkeep, such as donating picture frames for the facility’s walls. Her family and OFS were instrumental in the creation of Market Street Park by sponsoring a section, which is called Menke Plaza.

Menke and her mother established the Huntingburg Old Town Hall Endowment in 1992 to help preserve the historic building. Menke and her family have also helped with several other endowments, including those that bear her name.

She explained in a 2018 Herald story why she stays active.

“When you get older, you have to have passions, otherwise you will shrivel up,” she said. “I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to do this. But as long as I am able, I will.”

Huntingburg appreciates her dedication.

“There’s there’s a lot of people that have capabilities of doing those things, but not a lot of people do them,” Schwinghamer said. “When she kind of gets something in her mind to do something, she’s gonna try to get it done. That was one of the reasons I thought she was more than qualified for this honor.”

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