Photo by Brynna Sentel
“Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, for all the people you can, as long as you can.”
These words echoed throughout the Indiana State Museum auditorium Tuesday as Gov. Eric Holcomb recited the motto that Dr. George Rapp, the 2019 Sachem award winner, lives his life by.
From high school, where he showed a deep commitment to his New Albany school community, to his work as a doctor working with children with spinal scoliosis at Riley Hospital, Rapp has worked to make Indiana a better place.
“The Sachem award is given at most once a year. It is reserved for those rare Hoosiers who have made our state better through a lifetime of accomplishments,” Holcomb said.
In high school in New Albany, Rapp served as editor of his school newspaper, was an Eagle Scout, and was a member of the basketball team, the baseball team, his high school band and the local 4-H organization.
His commitment didn’t end in high school. He spent 35 year as an orthopedic surgeon, was an inventor, a business owner, a volunteer for dozens of organizations and a mentor for dozens more. Rapp served in the military, donated to countless causes, volunteered for many charitable causes and funded scholarships.
In presenting Rapp with the award, Holcomb described him as a person who is able to put himself in other people’s shoes, something most people struggle to do.
His working treating children with spinal scoliosis at Riley Children’s Hospital changed the lives of not only his patients but their families as well. His establishment and help in funding the building of four operation suites at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Kenya has helped patients and doctors.
“Doing good is Dr. Rapp’s life’s purpose and passion,” Holcomb said.
In accepting the award, Rapp made it clear that he didn’t work alone.
“People have always said they have considered Peggy and I as one in our volunteer efforts” Rapp said about his wife of 63 years, who has always supported his ideas and “who has always taught us about love, faith and family.”
Rapp thanked his parents, teachers, health care volunteers, boy scout leaders, athletic coaches, music teachers, 4-H leaders, and of course his wife. He noted on stage that he was especially proud of his two sons, two daughters in laws, 13 grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and one on the way.
Rapp shows no signs of stopping.
“A lot of folks understandably slow down as they get up in years,” Holcomb said. “This is not the case with Dr. Rapp or his wife, Peggy. They continue to pour it on, there is so much to admire about George Rapp and his commitment to our state and to our nation and to the world, his moral compass that is on full display every minute, and his almost duty to our nation. He is the example that so many of us try to live up to every day.”