Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (L), with the help of Jean Northenor (R), presented local historian and photographer Al Disbro with The Circle of Corydon award from Gov. Eric Holcomb. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (L), with the help of Jean Northenor (R), presented local historian and photographer Al Disbro with The Circle of Corydon award from Gov. Eric Holcomb. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Al Disbro was so busy taking pictures during the Hometown Heroes ceremony at First Friday that he didn’t realize when it became about him.

“My mind was someplace else,” Disbro said after the ceremony about when he noticed they were talking about him.

Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch was there to present Disbro with The Circle of Corydon from Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb. The award honors a person who has made remarkable contributions to the state and its people. Holcomb established The Circle of Corydon in 2017.

The award presentation had been planned for some time as a surprise for Disbro. He didn’t even know that members of his family would be there. Of course, it took his longtime friend and former Kosciusko County Republican Party Chairwoman Jean Northenor to get him there and up on stage. She got Disbro to walk her up the stage and then kept him up there.

“My main thing I’m here to do is to do what I’ve just done: To get Al up here with me,” she said as photos of Disbro and his life flashed up on the big screen behind them.

Crouch then took to the podium and said, “On behalf of the state of Indiana, we want to recognize a hometown hero, Gov. Holcomb and I, someone who works behind the scene, but someone who is so important to each and every person in Kosciusko County. There are very few Hoosiers who are recognized with the award of The Circle of the Corydon.”

She then read the award, signed by Holcomb, which states, in part, “Whereas the early leaders of our state gathered in Corydon in 1816 to adopt the first Indiana Constitution and to create the state of Indiana ... whereas, like the founders of our great state, many others have made remarkable contributions to the betterment of Indiana and its people and, therefore, are deserving of consideration for membership in the Indiana General Assembly’s Circle of Corydon; and whereas, Sen. Ryan Mishler has made known the illustrious benefactions of one Al Disbro, who has demonstrated, in life and in service to the people of the state of Indiana, the qualities exemplified by our state’s greatest citizens; henceforth and having been deemed worthy of such recognition, the above-named individual is hereby declared to be a distinguished member of the Circle of Corydon.”

Disbro was then given a standing ovation by the dozens of people in attendance. A video of musical artists Linda Davis and Susie McEntire and their significant others congratulating Disbro was played.

Disbro then took to the microphone and said, “Not only am I speechless, I’m numb.” He said he couldn’t believe it. Referring to Northenor, he said, “She’s the one that’s got me in almost everything I’ve filmed, and only she could get me up here.”

He said when Northenor left Lake City Bank, where they had worked together for many years, his whole life changed and not for the better. “It was always great when she was there,” he said.

Disbro was a branch manager and lender at the bank. He worked 36-37 years at LCB.

Disbro then said thank you and, “I feel like I’m in another world right now. Thank you.”

The ceremony began with speeches from Warsaw Common Council President Jack Wilhite and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Agencies for Food and Agriculture and Chief of the United States Mission to the U.N. Agency in Rome Kip Tom.

Wilhite talked about what makes a hero. He said the Webster dictionary defines a hero as a person admired for great deeds or fine qualities.

“Here are a few qualities that I believe make a hero,” he said, listing patience, courage, compassion, empathy, humility and selflessness, with a description for each one.

“These are a few of the qualities that define heroes. Does a person have to exhibit all of these qualities to become a hero? No. But you can be sure they exhibit most of them.”

Veterans, police, firefighters and nurses are some of the most visible and easy-to-remember heroes, he said. “But there are others as well, walking among us, and it is for this reason tonight we celebrate hometown heroes.”

As a slide show of local heroes began, Tom took to the podium. He was the first to mention that The Circle of Corydon was going to be presented but he didn’t say to whom.

“Tonight, the award will be presented to an individual who has made remarkable contributions to the betterment of our community, Indiana and its people. Demonstrating through life, and the service qualities exemplified by some of the greatest of Hoosiers. Tonight’s recipient is known for turning an ordinary world into a special world. They’re also recognized for being able to focus everyone’s attention ... onto others. And tonight’s recipient is a typical Hoosier: He’s modest and he’s humble,” Tom said.

Oftentimes, the behind-the-scenes individuals are extremely uncomfortable as the focal point or being in the spotlight at all, he said. Most will say they like being in the behind-the-scenes role because “all of their freedoms lie there,” he said.

“Tonight’s recipient also understands they need to remain disciplined because most of their work is done behind the scenes,” Tom said. “Simply put, those who shape our world are those who are not exposed oftentimes, who can’t be seen, unknown and oftentimes opaque individuals. And about whom almost no one knows anything about. That’s about to change.”

Tom said it was Hoosiers like The Circle of Corydon recipient “that makes Indiana a great place to live, work and enjoy life.”

After the ceremony, Disbro, who will be 82 this year, said he picked up photography when he was 11 years old through Pat Collier and the Boys Club. His first camera was a Kodak, and now he has about 30.