By JEFF BROWN - email@example.com
Jean Ann Dellekamp Wheeler did not have a normal childhood growing up in Shelbyville.
One of three new inductees into the Shelbyville High School Alumni Hall of Fame, Dellekamp Wheeler talked Thursday during the induction ceremony in the Golden Bear Room at the high school about how swimming altered her path in life.
“I think gifts surface in many, many unsuspecting ways,” she told the small crowd in attendance. “One, for me, when I was 11 years old, this was after a year of having some troubles in school. My father and mother saw an ad in a little book for the Indianapolis Athletic Club. They had a swimming pool downstairs and a diving board. My parents gave me diving lessons at age 11 for my birthday.
“The second time in a row we came for a lesson the diving coach did not show up. So the swimming coach off to the side saw us and knew my dad drove all the way from Shelbyville and politely said, ‘Mr. Dellekamp, why don’t you let her try to go with the swim team for awhile.’”
One coach’s loss was another’s gain. For a student that struggled dealing with ADD and dyslexia in the 1950s, the water was a perfect home.
She won seven national championships in breaststroke, set five world records, twice was named All-American and was an alternate for the 1960 Rome Olympics – four years before her high school graduation.
“It was a very unsuspecting gift having missed those diving lessons,” said Dellekamp Wheeler. “It changed the lives of my sister and my brother and certainly my parents.”
After months of training at Indiana University under Hall of Fame swim coach James “Doc” Councilman, Dellekamp Wheeler decided to end her competitive career to enjoy life as a teenager in Shelbyville. She feared the decision would leave Councilman disappointed in her.
“At that time I was swimming in Bloomington and I was all of 16 years old,” she said. “I’d been swimming since I was 11, did quite well and was appreciated, but I’d never been a normal kid in school. So I went to Doc Counsilman and said, ‘I would like to stop swimming but I don’t want to be a quitter. Will you shake hands with me if I set world records in my events and say I want to quit?’
“He said, ‘That’s not quitting. That’s retiring. There is a big difference. If you state what you are going to do and you’re going to stop something, make a plan, set your goals, accomplish your goals and then retire.’”
Competitive swimming took over the Dellekamp family as Jean Ann’s sister won a state championship in breaststroke and her brother was named captain of Notre Dame’s swim team during his collegiate career.
Dellekamp Wheeler gravitated to teaching after graduating from both Indiana University and Butler University.
At the age of 33, she transitioned into medical sales where the drive and goal setting that propelled her swimming career also flourished. She became nationally-recognized in surgery sales of instruments and high-tech equipment to both surgeons and hospitals.
She is married with two children and two granddaughters and lives out west where she enjoys hiking in the Colorado and Arizona mountains.
“It’s an honor to be recognized,” said Dellekamp Wheeler after the ceremony. “The people that have already received the award ... their accomplishments are so broad. I would like to salute this to my family and my parents, who drove me many, many miles in the car.”
Dellekamp Wheeler, a 1964 graduate, is the 34th person inducted in the Shelbyville High School Alumni Hall of Fame, which was created in 2008.
The 35th inductee is Sandy E. Allen, class of 1973.
One of Shelbyville’s most recognizable citizens, Allen gained worldwide notoriety when she was named the world’s tallest woman by the Guinness World Book of Records. At seven feet, seven-and-one quarter inches, Allen towered over most everyone around her. Her positive energy and encouraging messages came from embracing her size.
“If I told you every funny Sandy story I had, we’d be here a really long time,” said Rita Rose, longtime friend of Allen’s who accepted the award on her family’s behalf. “She was very unique in many ways. If she was here tonight to accept this award, she would probably say she didn’t deserve it. That was who she was. She was humble and self-effacing. But she does deserve it. Sandy grew up with a lot of physical and emotional challenges and she managed to overcome a lot of adversity as a child and as a student at this high school.”
Allen wrote a book with John Kleiman called “Cast the Giant Shadow: The Inspirational Life of Sandy Allen.”
She had a cameo appearance in the award-winning Italian film, “Fellini’s Casanova.” And she appeared in numerous documentaries, television shows and movies.
When she spoke at public events, she championed the message that it is all right to be different.
Sandy Allen died on Aug. 13, 2008.
The 36th inductee is Dr. William DePrez Inlow, class of 1909.
Born in Manila, Indiana, William Inlow attended Manila High School for three years. With a fourth year unavailable at his local school, Inlow commuted to Shelbyville by train to finish his high school education.
At Indiana University, he studied Greek, Algebra and Philology. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Dr. J.J. Inlow, William Inlow pursued medicine. He enrolled at the University of Chicago where he was selected Phi Beta Kappa. He completed his Bachelors of Science in 1915, his Masters of Science in 1917, and graduated from Rush Medical College in 1917.
Dr. Inlow was a veteran of World War I, where he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He later trained at the Mayo Clinic and that was where he developed the “Inlow fistula,” which became a standard in experimental surgery.
When he returned to Indiana, Dr. Inlow was a teacher, working in a traditional school in Homer, Ind., and he taught surgeons at the Inlow Clinic. He also was an accomplished violinist, forming his own orchestra and studying at the Indianapolis Conservatory of Music.
“I am acquainted with one word that I associate with dad, and that is polymath,” said Dr. William Inlow’s son, Dr. Robert Inlow, who accepted the award. “It means you are an expert in everything that you do. And that certainly was true with him.”
Dr. William DePrez Inlow retired at the age of 70 from his medical practice and stayed active with his interests until his death at the age of 90.
Shelbyville High School Alumni Hall of Fame
Induction class of 2008: Ronald Cole (class of 1963), William Garrett (1947), W. Roland Stine (1958), Tom Graham (1961) and Paul Cross (1917).
Class of 2009: John Hayes (1966), Daniel Hayes (1970) and John Hartnett Jr. (1976).
Class of 2010: Charles Major (1872), R. Gene Sexton (1944), Phyllis Fleming (1942) and Nate Kaufman (1922).
Class of 2011: Dan Thomasson (1952) and John C. DePrez (1930).
Class of 2012: Marilyn Weimar McCabe Hendrick (1940) and Arthur Thurston (1932).
Class of 2013: Stephen Moberly (1959) and Jerry Higgins (1953).
Class of 2014: Phillip Brown (1954), Charles O’Connor (1964) and Harry Larrabee (1970).
Class of 2015: J. Lee McNeely (1958), Joe Harlan (1977) and Jay Butler (1964).
Class of 2016: Arthur “Doc” Barnett (1924), Thomas Dierckman (1966) and Barton Kaufman (1958).
Class of 2017: Philip Haehl (1970), Gary Long (1957) and Robert Williams (1961).
Class of 2018: Lieutenant General Ralph Kaspar Rottet (1929), Josephine Webster (1942) and Bruce Van Cleve (1979).
Class of 2019: Jean Ann Dellekamp Wheeler (1964), Sandy Allen (1973) and Dr. William Inlow (1909).