The Porter County
Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission on Thursday dedicated a
section of its outdoor gardens to the memory of its late and beloved board
member Judy Chaplin.
Chaplin was still
serving on the board as the Duneland representative when she died on May 21
at age 72. She was appointed by the three towns in Westchester Twp. --
Chesterton, Porter and Burns Harbor.
Shady Lawn Florist and Greenhouse in Chesterton for many years.
executive director of the PCCRVC, said Chaplin joined the board 11 years ago
and wanted to make a positive impact on her community.
“She loved the
Dunes, she loved the Duneland area and wanted to see it grow and succeed,”
The memorial garden
includes a hydrangea tree, rose bushes, a few other flowers, and a plaque
that reads “In memory of Judy Chaplin -- Great things bloomed during her
service on the tourism board.”
The memorial and
plants were designed and installed by Bonnie Lee of The Gardener LLC in
President Mitch Peters felt the memorial was most appropriate given
Peters spoke of the
admiration the board members had for Chaplin who helped new members like him
find their bearings.
“We all loved Judy
and we miss her way too much,” Peters said. “We’ll never be able to replace
her. She was a special person in all our hearts.”
Weimer added that
Chaplin was on the board when the new visitor center was built in 2006 at
the U.S. 20 and Ind. 49 intersection. Attendance has grown from 7,000
visitors annually at the former visitor center to 80,000 visitors at the new
Chaplin was proud
of what the PCCRVC board was able to accomplish together, Weimer said, and
had strong character.
“She was a fighter.
She always fought for what she felt was right,” Weimer said. Whoever will be
Chaplin’s successor on the board she said will have “very large shoes to
“There are a lot of
things we will miss about Judy. We will miss her smile, her laugh, her
positive attitude and the strong passion she lived her life with,” Weimer
Chesterton Town Council member Jim Ton told the Chesterton Tribune
the three towns have heard the charge to appoint a new PCCRVC representative
but have yet to agree on an appointment. It is required that the person be
involved in the hospitality industry.
Ton reflected on
the decision to first appoint Chaplin years ago. “We knew Judy would be an
outstanding representative for not only Chesterton but all of the three
towns. She would support the environment and would do everything to maintain
its integrity. She will be sorely missed,” he said.
Also in attendance
were Porter County Northern Commissioner John Evans and his wife Laurie
Wehner-Evans, Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela, Burns Harbor
Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan and employees of Shady Lawn Florist.
for pictures in front of the memorial were Chaplin’s husband Jim, daughters
Jennifer Nearly and Kathy Pliske and son James Jr.
In addition, Weimer
announced that Chaplin will posthumously be awarded the Hoosier Hospitality
Award this Friday from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, one of the highest
honors one can received in the travel, tourism and service industry in
The PCCRVC was
planning to nominate Chaplin for a 2015 Hoosier Hospitality award and
decided to proceed with the nomination after her death.
The award will to
be presented to Chaplin’s family by Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and Mark
Newman, executive director of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.