Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb Thursday awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash to Vigo County Commissioner Judith Anderson.  The Republican governor stopped by the Vigo County Annex at First and Oak Street on Thursday afternoon to surprise Anderson, a Democrat.

"I knew he was coming in, and he said he would stop by and say hi, which in itself is a good honor, but then he turns around and presents me with this," Anderson said. "I was very excited. It feels absolutely wonderful. It was quite a shock, but also quite an honor."

Anderson said she thought the governor might have planned to ask her to serve on a board, as she has chosen not to seek re-election as a county commissioner. The Sagamore of the Wabash is the highest honor an Indiana governor regularly bestows upon individuals, second only to the Sachem, which is given, at most, to only one person each year. Holcomb bestows only a very limited number of Sagamores each year. The award is given at the governor's discretion.

The governor reserves the Sagamore for those who have distinguished themselves by humanity in living, loyalty in friendship, wisdom, and inspiration in leadership; and for those who have contributed to their communities in an extraordinary manner, or distinguished themselves in service to the state or to the governor, said Rachel Hoffmeyer, press secretary."As a notable leader in Vigo County, the region and the state for decades, Judy is beyond qualified," Hoffmeyer said. 

Anderson was born, raised, and educated in Vigo County. She was a bus driver for the Vigo County School Corp from 1978 to 1996. She served on the Fayette Township Advisory Board from 1984 to 1996.   Anderson was elected in 1997, serving four years in an at-large seat on the Vigo County Council. In 2001 she was the first woman elected as a Vigo County commissioner.Anderson was named the 2019 Outstanding Commissioner of the Year by the Indiana Association of Counties and received the same award in 2009. She previously served as president of the Association of Indiana Counties in 2008 and received that organization’s top Himsel award in 2011.   Anderson served as president of the Indiana Association of County Commissioners in 2009 and 2019. 

Tribune-Star, Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or [email protected].