OCCSW Okaloosa County Commission on the Status of Women

2003 Okaloosa County Women's Hall of Fame Honorees

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Irus Baughman - Pioneer Award

Iris Baughman (1908-2003) was a pioneer inductee. After moving to Okaloosa County in 1951, she and her husband owned and operated several businesses and quickly became involved in community activities. In 1963, Baughman became the Executive Director of the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and served in that capacity for 14 years. While in this leadership role, she expanded the close ties between the civilian community and the military and developed a strong campaign for tourism. Her contributions to this area in its formative years are felt in many ways today.

Ursel Behnken - Cultural Arts Award

The Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Award was presented to Ursel Behnken, who has been a leader and driving force in the arts and cultural communities of Okaloosa County for 32 years. She currently hold offices in twelve arts and cultural organizations — many of which she is a charter member. She has worked in numerous fields, and she herself is a recognized artist and photographer. She was nominated by the Emerald Coast Concert Association, Inc.

Terry Bevino - Contemporary Award

The contemporary inductee this year was Terry Bevino. In her leadership role as Chief Quality Assurance Officer of the Okaloosa County School District, Okaloosa became the number one school district in the state. She started in the Okaloosa School District as an English Teacher at Fort Walton Beach High School and moved through the ranks of assistant principal and principal of several schools before assuming her current position. Her community activities include being Teen Coordinator with the Humane Society and Block Coordinator for the March of Dimes. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Playground Area YMCA and has taken leading roles in several professional organizations.

Fritz Creswell - Humanitarian Award

The Carolyn Spencer Humanitarian award was presented to Fritz Creswell. For almost 40 years, Creswell has given freely of her time and talents to make major contributions to the quality of life for the underprivileged in Okaloosa County. Her greatest contribution is a Saturday “Free Lunch” program, which she initiated to feed the hungry, and where she does 99% of the planning, marketing, and cooking. Approximately 50 needy women, men and families are served every week – year-round.

Jessie Alma Edge - Posthumously Award

Inducted posthumously was Jessie Alma "Granny" Edge (1900-1998). In her early years, Edge led a busy life as an equestrian, writer, musician and wife. At the age of 80, she became involved in politics and was appointed by the NW Florida Council on Aging to represent Okaloosa County Senior Citizens as a member of the Florida Silver Haired Legislature. The following year, she served as a Florida Delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. At the age of 83, she filed for a seat on the Niceville City Council and took 52% of the vote—defeating a lawyer and a local businessman.

Paulette Risher - Military Service Award

A Military Service Award was presented to Brigadier General Paulette Risher, who in her over 30 years as an Army Officer has been the first female to serve in several military leadership roles, setting an example and paving the way for other females. She is the first female to be a Special Operations Commander and is the current president of the Joint Special Operations University. As such, she is responsible for the worldwide education of Special Operations Forces.

2003 Honorees

Irus Baughman
Pioneer Award

Ursel Behnken
Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Award

Terry Bevino
Contemporary Award

Fritz Creswell
Humanitarian Award

Jessie Alma Edge
Posthumously Award

Paulette Risher
Military Service Award


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