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Sanibel resident receives prestigious award from Indiana governor

By Staff | Jan 12, 2011

Wayne Ponader, left, and his wife Mardi hear announcement of the award during Wayne's 80th birthday celebration.

Longtime Sanibel resident Wayne Ponader was recently named by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels as the recipient of the state’s Sagamore of the Wabash Award, a personal tribute from the governor given to those who have rendered distinguished service to the state of Indiana.

Notice of the award was announced by Wayne’s oldest son, Erick, coincidentally to mark the occasion of his father’s 80th birthday celebration, an event held on Dec. 28 at the Captiva Island Yacht Club. The party was attended by 96 of his friends and relatives.

“I am very proud and very appreciative of the honor,” said Ponader, noting that his son, an attorney living in Indianapolis, Ind., informed him of the recognition on Dec. 20.

Quoting from a certificate signed by Governor Daniels, Erick read that the award cited his father as having “endeared himself to the Citizens of Indiana by his Humanity in Living, his Loyalty in Friendship, his Wisdom in Council, and his Inspiration in Leadership.”

The award, described as “one of the highest distinctions in Indiana,” bestows upon the honoree the designation of “Sagamore of the Wabash” by the state’s governor. Established in 1945, the award’s recipients have included astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians, and citizens who have contributed greatly to “Hoosier” heritage.

Erick Ponader, left, with brothers Jonathan, Carl and David, reads from the Sagamore of the Wabash Award citation.

“I am very pleased that Mitch (Daniels) would think this of me,” Ponader added. “He is one of the best governors Indiana has ever had… one of the best in the United States.”

Before moving to Sanibel, Wayne and Mardi — his wife of 54 years — lived and raised their family of four sons in Indiana. Having earned a BA and a Law degree from Indiana University, Wayne entered the legal profession and rose to the position of Senior Partner at the Indianapolis law firm of Bose, McKinney and Evans.

Wayne and Mardi first bought property on the island in 1978. By 1985, they were spending winters here and, in 1995, moved to Sanibel year round.

Among the friends and relatives attending the birthday celebration at which the governor’s award was announced were the Ponaders’ four sons — Carl, Erick, Jonathan and David — their wives and eight of their nine grandchildren.