By the author of our Hawthorne book World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, Rita Rose.
Sandy Allen, of Shelbyville, Indiana, was the World’s Tallest Woman from 1976 to 2008, when she passed away in a Shelbyville nursing home. My book about Sandy’s high school years, World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, came out just two months after she died.
In the last 10 years the Shelbyville powers that be, as well as friends and relatives of Sandy’s, have talked about ways to honor the woman who put their town on the map. There has been talk about a life-size statue, although that hasn’t come about. But she did receive an honor recently and I was there to take part.
Sandy’s sister Darlene
On May 2, 2019, Sandy was inducted into the Shelbyville High School Alumni Hall of Fame from the class of 1973. She was honored along with Jean Ann Dellekamp Wheeler, class of ‘64, and Dr. William Inlow, class of 1909. I accepted the plaque on behalf of Sandy’s sister in Florida, Emma Darlene, who was very close to Sandy. The plaque was shipped to her. The same plaque appears on the Hall of Fame wall. Sandy’s brother, Marty Brown, said a few words at the event.
Here’s an excerpt from my speech: “If Sandy were here tonight to accept this award, she would probably say she didn’t deserve it. That’s part of who she was, humble and self-effacing. But she DOES deserve it. Sandy grew up with a lot of physical and emotional challenges. She managed to overcome a lot of adversity as a child, and as a student at this high school, to become the kind, generous, funny and inspirational person that she was. I am accepting this award on behalf of Sandy’s sister, Emma Darlene, with whom she was very close. Darlene can’t be here because she lives in Florida, but she sends her thanks for honoring her big sister. (Yes, that was a pun.) To Sandy’s friends and relatives who still live in Shelbyville, I hope you are proud of her accomplishments and what she gave back to the community, as a person and as the World’s Tallest Woman.”
Rita with Sandy’s brother
The plaque hangs in the entryway of the school along with those who were honored before her.
For a copy of World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, please contact Hawthorne Publishing or you can email me at Snowbird11@aol.com for a signed copy.