Hardin Northern announced this year’s Hall of Distinction inductees.
They are John Wilson and Judge Steve Christopher.
John A. Wilson was born and raised on a farm outside Dunkirk that now has the 6th generation of Wilsons living on it.
He is the first graduate of Dunkirk High School to receive the American Farmer Degree through the National FFA Organization and went on to graduate from The Ohio State University with an Agriculture Education Degree.
He taught Vocational Agriculture at Glenford which is now a part of Sheridan schools. After that he spent three years at LaRue High School as their Vo-Ag instructor. He then went on to build and manage a fertilizer plant in Fremont, Ohio.
During this time, he spent six years in the Ohio National Guard rising to First Lieutenant.
Later, he started one of the first agri-business programs in Ohio at Wauseon High School in Fulton County, and helped start the Four County Vocational School where he was Ag Supervisor before becoming the Director of Student Services at Northwest Technical College, now Northwest State Community College.
He was hired by Sauder Woodworking Company in Archbold as the Director of Industrial Relations and later became Vice President of Human Resources. He saw the company rise from 308 employees in 1978 to over 2000 employees in 1992 when he retired.
During his years of retirement, he provided human resource consultations to numerous companies and was sent by the US State Department to Cairo Egypt and Khabarousk Russia to do relationship training for the International Executive Service Corps.
He was, and continues to be, active in a number of organizations including Archbold Evangelical Church where he was church chairman and chairman of the elder board. He has been a Gideon since 1964 and was on the Bill Glass prison ministry board and served as a prison counselor, visiting 68 prisons in 20 states. He served on the Six County Youth for Christ board and now is a volunteer chaplain at the Correction Center of Northwest Ohio.
In 1986 he was awarded the Archbold Citizen of the Year award. At the age of 87, he was given the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Agricultural Education at The Ohio State University.
John and his wife Joanne live in Archbold, Ohio. They have 3 children, 11 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. For all this he says, “I give God all the glory.”
Judge Steve Christopher is a 1977 graduate of Hardin Northern High School.
He worked his way through college at various jobs including lawn care, farmhand, factory worker, store clerk, law clerk, and painter, obtaining his first job at age 10 and financing 100% of his college education himself.
He obtained a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Ohio Northern University in 1981 and his law degree from Ohio Northern’s law school in 1984. After 5 years as an associate at firms in Lima and Kenton, he established the Christopher Law Office in Findlay, Ohio
In his role as a trial attorney for nearly 30 years, Steve was one of only a small number of attorneys in Ohio that handled the most serious cases in both the civil and criminal realms: million-dollar civil litigation and death penalty homicide cases. His civil trial experience included complex litigation and his criminal experience was such that his cases have been covered by national news outlets including ESPN, 20/20, Inside Edition, and The O’Reilly Factor. In 1992, he was defense counsel in State v. Van Warmer, an aggravated murder case that was one of the first “gay bashing” cases to receive widespread media coverage. In 1995 he was chosen by renowned trial lawyers Gerry Spence, Richard Haynes of Watergate fame, and Morris Dees (the attorney who bankrupted the KKK) as one of a small group of young trial attorneys from across the United States to receive special training at the Trial Lawyers College. He has served as legal counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, the Alliance Defense Fund, and the National Rifle Association. In 2004, Steve served as both a recount witness and Ohio counsel for President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign.
Steve’s professional standing as a trial attorney has been recognized by his peers. He was certified by the Ohio Supreme court as trial counsel for death penalty cases and served on the Board of Directors for both the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Ohio Academy of Trial Attorneys. Steve has taught various law related classes at Ohio Northern University at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and served as a lecturer for the Ohio State Bar Association on topics as diverse as negligence law and domestic violence. Prior to being elected to the Common Pleas Court, Judge Christopher had developed a trial practice encompassing most of the eastern United States and served 8 years as acting judge in the Hardin County Municipal Court.
Since assuming the bench in 2013, Judge Christopher has overseen the certification by the Ohio Supreme Court of three specialized dockets in Hardin County and presided over the most successful drug treatment Court in the State of Ohio. His court continues to serve as a model that the Supreme Court uses as an example for other judges to replicate. Judge Christopher also presides over the only court run charter school in the State of Ohio. Upon entering office he set up an early warning program in conjunction with Hardin County schools that cut truancy filing by more than 70%.
In 2020 Judge Christopher drafted legislation to update the Hardin County court system for the first time in over 120 years. Working with State senators and representatives, the Judge shepherded those changes through the legislature and obtained the signature of the governor to make those changes law. Upon his retirement, Judge Christopher will be the only judge in Hardin County history to have presided over all of Hardin County’s courts: the Municipal Court, Probate Court, Juvenile Court, and General Division Court. At the request of the Ohio Supreme Court, Judge Christopher currently serves as a mentor to new Ohio judges.
Steve Christopher remains a resident of the Hardin Northern School District, where he lives with his wife, Jill. All three of his children are graduates of Hardin Northern. He has also served his community as a Blanchard Township Trustee for 16 years, helped establish the local fire district, an independent ambulance board, and drafted Blanchard Township’s zoning regulation.
They will be inducted into the Hall of Distinction during graduation on Sunday, May 23 at 2 pm.