The word “legend” gets bandied about so often nowadays it loses much of its meeting, but Ruth Ann Callon truly was a legend in women’s sports.
The Whiteland resident died Dec. 17 at the age of 85. And generations of female athletes have her to thank for the opportunity to compete.
Callon graduated from Whiteland High School in 1948 and earned her bachelor’s degree from Franklin College in 1952 and a master’s degree in education from Butler University in 1956. She taught at Whiteland High School from 1953 to 1955. Then, after her children were in school, she taught and coached at Franklin College from 1962 to 1991. She was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from Franklin College in 2011.
Callon was a pioneer in girls and women’s sports in Indiana and beyond. Her efforts moved high school girls and collegiate women’s sports from essentially an intramural level to a competitive one. In the 1960s, she led an effort to create a governing body for women’s sports, which led to the creation of the Indiana Collegiate Women’s Sports Organization. In 1973, she was part of the IHSAA committee that started postseason competition for high school girls.
She was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005 and was named by the Indiana Fever as one of 15 Inspiring Women in 2009.
But for all her pioneering work, Callon was quick to give others credit. A devout Christian, she spoke openly about her faith and attributed all her success to a higher power. Ever gracious, in conversation and in interviews, she was more comfortable talking about her husband, George, and her children than about herself.
In an interview with the Daily Journal, she said: “I’ve been blessed by God. He put me in the right places where I could help others. I wanted to give girls the opportunity to play.”
While Callon will be justly remembered for her many significant and groundbreaking accomplishments, she also will be remembered fondly for her quiet grace.
She will be missed by all who knew her. Many more will never know how much they owe her, not that she ever would have sought their thanks or praise.
Ruth Callon was a pioneer in women’s athletics.
She will be remembered for her many accomplishments but also for her quiet grace.
Those wishing to make a contribution in Ruth Callon’s honor may send them to the Callon-Doub Fellowship at Franklin College, the Clark-Pleasant Education Foundation or to the Special Needs Children’s Fund at Greenwood Christian Church.