Gov. Eric J. Holcomb presented Hoosier humanitarian Dr. George Rapp, Lake Wawasee and Indianapolis, with the 2019 Sachem Award, the state’s highest honor, during a ceremony at the Indiana State Museum Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Rapp has been a medical pioneer, champion of education and supporter of the arts throughout his life. The Sachem is given annually to recognize a lifetime of excellence and moral virtue that has brought credit and honor to Indiana.
Rapp is the third Sachem honoree named by Holcomb.
During the presentation, Holcomb noted the Sachem is awarded, at most, once a year and is reserved for those rare Hoosiers who have made the state better through a lifetime of accomplishments and virtue. He noted several past recipients before stating, “This morning we add a new name to this illustrious list of Hoosiers. Dr. George Rapp. There are few Hoosiers — dating back to our founding — who’ve had such a wide range of impact in a number of different areas as Dr. Rapp.
“From education, to historic preservation, the support of the arts, to expanding access to medicine, to building medical facilities, George Rapp has spent his life in service of others. … His work in any one of these areas warrants special recognition and when you take the sum total of his life’s endeavors, his contributions to our state certainly make him one of Indiana’s greatest Hoosiers.”
Holcomb gave a history of Rapp’s life, starting with his attending New Harmony High School where he had a motto: “Someone has to do it!” With 16 classmates, that someone was often Rapp. He was editor of the paper, Eagle Scout, on the basketball team, baseball team, in the band and a 4-H’er.
He was a private practice doctor for 35 years, an inventor, business owner, volunteer for dozens of community-minded organizations and a mentor for many dozens more. “Doing good is Dr. Rapp’s life’s purpose and passion and he’s done it in every field he’s chosen,” said Holcomb.
Rapp served in the military, generously donated to countless causes, volunteered with many charitable causes, founded scholarship funds and more. Holcomb noted Rapp’s successes in the medical field are enormous. “As the chief of orthopedic residency at St. Vincent for 18 years, Dr. Rapp trained many first-year residents. He developed ground-breaking inventions for the way we treat hip and spinal ailments. He’s treated countless number of kids with spinal scoliosis at Riley Children’s Hospital And he created ways to ‘do good,’ outside of Indian, too.”
Holcomb pointed out Rapp’s establishing and funding of the building of four operation suites at Moi University in Kenya along with being active in the Indiana University Kenya program.
Closer to home, Rapp played a role in the preservation of historic New Harmony and started the New Harmony Hoosier Salon Art Gallery as well as helping restore the Ravine Garden at Newfields in Indianapolis.
“A medical pioneer, a champion of education and a supporter of the arts. Dr. Rapp has done a lot of good in a lot of ways. … But, I think he’ll be he first to admit he had some help along the way, too. And he had no greater help and no better supporter … his wife of over 60 years, Peggy … What started in New Harmony in 1932 carries on today and tomorrow and the day after. Because I know George Rapp isn’t finished doing good … .
“Thank you, George, for all the good you’ve done to make your hometown, our state and the world a much better place through your devotion to the arts, education and medicine. In all those ways … For all those people … For all this time.”