The Journal Gazette
Thursday, February 25, 2016 10:03 pm

Tapestry to honor 2 for dedication

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

IPFW’s Tapestry: A Day for You Dedication Award will go this year to a preserver of local black history and a woman who helped launch the 14-year-old event. 

Hana Stith, founder of the African/African-American Historical Society Museum in Fort Wayne, and the late Linda Ruffolo, former executive director of development at IPFW and promoter of Fort Wayne arts organizations, have been named 2016’s recipients.

The awards ceremony will take place at the event April 29.

Stith, 87, was among the first black teachers in Fort Wayne Community Schools when she was hired in 1960. She spent most of her 36-year career in inner-city schools.

She was the first woman appointed to the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, serving 12 years under four mayors, and remains its longest-serving member. She also served on the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission for four years and on the Fort Wayne Board of Public Safety for six years.

Stith and her late husband, Harold, founded the African/African-American Historical Society and during more than three decades collected artifacts and documents pertaining the Fort Wayne area and its black residents, opening the museum in 2000. She was the museum’s CEO, manager and director until 2013.

Ruffolo, who died at 73 in March 2015, joined IPFW in 1995 after starting her career as a speech pathologist. She was president of Fort Wayne Youtheatre and the Lincoln Museum and worked on behalf of Arts United, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Fort Wayne Ballet and Study Connection, among other groups.

She was the IPFW director of development for 19 years. Ruffolo also helped another Fort Wayne woman, Irene Walters, get the idea of Tapestry off the ground. Ruffolo is the fifth woman to be honored posthumously, according to Kathleen Jackson, coordinator.

Designed to inspire and refresh area women, the events have raised $750,000 in scholarships for 58 IPFW health-sciences students.

This year, the Tapestry keynote speaker is Emmy-winning comedic actress Vicki Lawrence, best known for her characters on TV’s "The Carol Burnett Show" and "Mama’s Family." 

Attendees also will be able to choose two of 14 locally sponsored morning workshops on topics including cooking, design and health.

Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. today. 

Tickets are $75 or $800 for a table of 10. Corporate tables are $1,000. Tickets will be available online at

The deadline is April 8.

For more information about the event at Memorial Coliseum, call 481-6854.

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