Antero Pietila, a native of Finland, came to the United States in 1964 and spent thirty-five years as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. In 1980, he established a bureau for the Sun in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he witnessed the devastating effects and confusion of apartheid and elitism before Nelson Mandela came to power in 1994. Returning to Baltimore, Pietila—now retired from the Sun—has published a book about racial discrimination and its effect on Baltimore’s neighborhoods: Not in My Neighborhood—How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City. The setting is Baltimore, but the message is nationwide.
Francis P. O'Neill is "a walking encyclopedia of Baltimore history." For the past thirty years he has combed the 65,000 books that fill the shelves in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library of the Maryland Historical Society for answers to thousands of questions concerning Baltimore's past. As the Senior Reference Librarian, he is the leading authority on the people who lived, the buildings that stood, and the businesses that operated throughout the city and the state. His published indices to the nineteenth century Obituaries and Marriages in the Baltimore Sun serve as an invaluable resource to genealogists.
Howard P. "Pete" Rawlings (1937-2003), was born in Baltimore and raised in the Edgar Allan Poe Homes. He attended Douglass High School, Morgan University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Maryland. Rawlings served for twenty-three years in the Maryland House of Delegates where he rose to become chair of the House Appropriations Committee, one of the two budget committees of the General Assembly, the epicenter of power in the State government. The hallmarks of his career were integrity, devotion to Baltimore - especially educational opportunities at all levels - and a profound understanding of the Maryland State budget. He insisted on a budget that was "fiscally prudent and socially responsible." A wonderful family enriched him. His wife, Nina C. Rawlings, M.D., a longtime Baltimore pediatrician and one of the first black women to graduate from the University of Maryland School of Medicine,and three children, Wendell, Lisa, and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who carries on the legacy of her dad in splendid fashion as Mayor of the City of Baltimore.
J. Joseph Curran, Jr., raised and educated in Baltimore City, served as Attorney General of Maryland from 1987-2007, becoming the longest serving elected Attorney General in Maryland history. Before his election as Attorney General, Mr. Curran served as Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 1983-87, under Harry R. Hughes. Before that, he served as a representative of Baltimore City in the Maryland House of Delegates for 4 years and in the Maryland Senate for 20 years. As Attorney General, Mr. Curran was known for his reform efforts in the areas of consumer protection, criminal investigations, Medicaid fraud prosecution, securities regulation, antitrust enforcement, protection of children, teens, and seniors, and protection of victims of domestic violence and sexual predators. He also worked to strengthen criminal laws against gun violence and prescription drug abuse.
John R. Breihan has been a professor and member of the Loyola College history faculty since 1977. He was the co-editor and a contributor to From Mobtown to Charm City: New Perspectives on Baltimore History, and in recent years he has developed a particular interest in the suburban development of the Baltimore region during and after World War II. His published works consider Aero Acres, the Martin Aircraft’s company town for white workers, and Cherry Hill, the Baltimore Housing Authority’s war housing for African Americans. An historic preservationist, he is an active board member of Baltimore Heritage and the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum.
Ralph McGuire (1917-2006) was an artist whose works expressed a devotion to bustling industrial Baltimore. He was a product of Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood and, after graduating from City College in 1935, he began to study art under the mentoring of Herman Maril and others. Much of his work, cityscapes and landscapes, was said to be in a style reminiscent of folk-art and his works were often displayed at Martick’s. He expressed his art using oils, watercolors, pen and ink, and wood. Though the building is now a part of the Central Branch of Pratt Library, for almost fifty years McGuire and his wife, Tobia Samuels, maintained a gallery and framing studio on Mulberry Street.
Rosalie Silber Abrams (1916-2009) was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame based on her career as a leader in Maryland politics. She served for three years in the Maryland House of Delegates and for fourteen years in the Maryland Senate, becoming the first woman to hold the positions of Senate majority leader and Senate Finance Committee chair. She was also the first woman chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and Director of the Maryland Office on Aging from 1985-95. Before embarking on her political career, Mrs. Abrams worked as a registered nurse, and many of her political accomplishments related to the field of health care.
Verna Day-Jones (1924-2009). [Verna Day-Jones] is an icon in Baltimore. There were so many things that she's done to be a part of this city. These are the words of Benjamin Prestbury, a long-time friend and co-worker, quoted in the Baltimore Afro-American on the occasion of her death at eighty-five on October 2, 2009. Born in Pittsburgh, Verna Day-Jones moved to Baltimore in 1942 to work at the Social Security Administration, but her real love was for the theater. She began acting in the 1940's with the Greenwich Theater, the City's first integrated acting company, and thereafter at Arena Stage, starring in Picnic, The Glass Menagerie, and Death of a Salesman, among some forty-five plays over a fifty-year association with the Arena Players. She portrayed both Harriet Tubman and Mary McCloud Bethune in one-woman shows. While her contribution to the theater was groundbreaking for a young black actress, she was determined to play an equally active role in the community of her chosen city. Baltimore is proud to honor Verna Day-Jones for her contributions to the city and for her kindness, generosity, and inspiration to the many Baltimoreans whose lives she touched.
Wayne R. Schaumburg has been a prodigious evangelist for the history of his native city for over twenty-five years. He has brought Baltimore City history to life through lectures and courses on a variety of Baltimore topics, including architecture and in particular the Baltimore Fire. His tours of Green Mount Cemetery have introduced hundreds of people to that remarkable place and, through its monuments, to Baltimore's social, cultural, and economic history. Mr. Schaumburg has served on the boards of Baltimore Heritage, the Irish Railroad Workers Museum, the Baltimore City Historical Society, and the Friends of the Perry Hall Mansion.
Willa Bickham and Brendan Walsh. Since 1968, Viva House in Southwest Baltimore has served Baltimore’s poor and marginalized residents. Called a "Hospitality House," Viva House welcomes its guests with a hot meal. Brendan Walsh, the co-founder, along with his wife Willa Bickham, directs the visitors to tables, where they are served by a corps of volunteers. Walsh explains, "People come here for the sense of dignity it provides them." Viva House is part of the Catholic Worker movement, founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day to advocate non-violence, social equality, and charity, summarized by Walsh as "works of mercy and works of resistance." So for forty-two years, this devoted couple has enriched Baltimore by protests and demonstrations, advocating social issues, but above all by a staggering work of charity, providing hot meals to the poorest of the poor with warmth, friendliness, and hospitality.
Robert C. Keith (1932-2010) was born beside Lake Michigan and never lost his love of the sea. His working career was spent as an editor and newspaperman, and he eventually headed the Los Angeles Times/Washington Post News Service. After his retirement in the late 1970s, he settled in Baltimore’s Fells Point, where he established the Ocean Reporter magazine and founded the Ocean World Institute, an educational organization that operated the skipjack Minnie V. On both the Minnie V and the Half Shell, an historic 1928 Chesapeake Bay buy-boat, Mr. Keith gave schoolchildren tours of the Harbor. Mr. Keith's extensive explorations of Baltimore Harbor by boat resulted in a book, Baltimore Harbor, a Picture History, in 1983. That book was republished in an expanded edition in 2002 by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse has held the positions of Maryland State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents since 1975. As director of the State Archives, he is responsible for that agency's vast collection of government and private materials. He initiated the creation of the award-winning Maryland State Archives web site and has placed Maryland Land Records and other important public documents on line in a searchable format. Dr. Papenfuse teaches courses at the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Maryland Law School, and the Johns Hopkins University, and he is the author of numerous articles and books. Perhaps most important for Baltimore City historians, in the last several years Dr. Papenfuse has directed the re-housing and revitalization of the long-neglected Baltimore City Archives.
Colin Fraser Smith, a popular commentator on WYPR-FM since 2003, a reporter with The Daily Record since 2009, and formerly a reporter with The Baltimore Sun for more than 30 years, has published numerous articles and three books on local history. The titles of those wide-ranging books are: William Donald Schaefer, A Political Biography; Here Lies Jim Crow: Civil Rights in Maryland; and Lenny Lefty and the Chancellor: The Len Bias Tragedy and the Search for Reform in Big Time College Basketball.
Clinton Bamberger has been an attorney in public and private practice, a law school teacher and dean, a public administrator, and a legal services attorney. Professor Bamberger was the first director of the federal program to provide legal assistance for poor people; was the dean of the Catholic University law school; was executive vice president of the national Legal Services Corporation; was named professor of the year by the Society of American Law Teachers; was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Nepal; and has been a scholar or visiting professor in The Netherlands and in South Africa. In the summer of 2006, Professor Bamberger returned to The University of Maryland Law School as Emeritus Professor and continues an active life in the Baltimore community, speaking out for civil liberties, fair housing, public transit, and legal services for the poor. He currently serves as a board member of the Open Society Institute-Baltimore.
Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown. Eddie Brown is the founder and President of Brown Capital Management in Baltimore, one of the country’s oldest African-American-owned investment management firms. He was a regular panelist for 25 years on the nationally-televised program, Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street.C. Sylvia Brown is an educator by profession, teaching and serving as an administrator at the Baltimore City Community College, and has also worked in property development and management in Baltimore. Both Mr. and Mrs. Brown have been extensively involved in community activities. Mr. Brown is a member of the Board of the Open Society Institute-Baltimore and the East Baltimore Development Corporation. He has also served on the U.S. ERISA Advisory Council and the Maryland Economic Development Commission. Mrs. Brown currently serves on the Boards of Arts Everyday, the Urban Health Institute, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Walters Art Museum. Both Browns have been leaders in historic preservation and major philanthropy in Baltimore. In 1994, they established the Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Family Foundation, to serve as an instrument of their philosophy of giving back to the community. Major recipients of the Foundation’s generosity include the Maryland Institute College of Art, the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Turning the Corner Achievement Program, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History and Culture, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University, the Center for Urban Families, the Baltimore School for the Arts, and the Middle Grades Partnership in Baltimore City.
Sidney Hollander, Jr. has been a principal in the Baltimore marketing research and survey organization known as Sidney Hollander Associates, but is more importantly knows as a leader in the fight to promote integration and neighborhood stability in Baltimore. He joined with James Rouse and Ellsworth Rosen in March 1959 to incorporate Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. and was especially instrumental in stabilizing his own neighborhood of Windsor Hills. He has worked to catalog the papers and to promote the recognition of his father, Sidney Hollander, Sr., an important leader in the fights for civil rights and social welfare in the middle of the last century.
Sister Charmaine Krohe is currently and since 2007 has been president of the Mother Seton Academy, a middle school founded in 1991 by six Roman Catholic religious orders with the goal of educating low-income students of all faiths and cultures. The Academy serves 65-70 students, in small classes of 12-15, with a comprehensive program from breakfast at 7:45 each weekday morning until 5:00 each evening. Before taking on the direction of Mother Seton Academy, Sister Charmaine founded and served for 33 years as Director of the St. Ambrose Outreach Center, a multipurpose center on Park Heights Avenue providing a food pantry, a soup kitchen, emergency and holiday assistance, adult literacy, job readiness and job training, a Head Start program, and after-school and summer camp sessions. Sister Charmaine also served as President of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Baltimore and led the development of the Cottage Avenue Community, a transitional housing program for homeless families.
Mack Lewis, a member of the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame, dedicated more than 40 years of his life in Baltimore to not only training youngsters to box, but mentoring them in the "ring" of life. Before World War II, Mr. Lewis boxed at then-segregated Douglass High School and won a scholarship to Morgan State College, where he played on the unbeaten 1940 football Bears. World War II saw him boxing at Ft. Lee, Virginia, for the U.S. Army. However, in 1943 a punctured ear drum led to his discharge from the Army and also stopped his personal boxing career. Still, he continued to train and mentor young boxers while working at the Internal Revenue Service. He trained and mentored more than 2,000 youngsters, including Vincent Pettaway, Larry Middleton, and Boogie Weinglass.
Rabbi Mark G. Loeb was spiritual leader of Beth El Congregation in Pikesville for 28 years, until his retirement in 2008. He died in Milan, Italy in 2009, where he was serving a congregation as an interim rabbi. Known both within and beyond the local Jewish community for a powerful and wide-ranging intellect, Rabbi Loeb was deeply engaged in public affairs, from activism for civil rights in the 1960s to service on the gubernatorial commission that in 2008 recommended the abolition of the death penalty. He was national president of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, chaired the board of Baltimore Hebrew University, and promoted interfaith dialogue as a co-founder of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies.
James H. Bready (1919 - 2011) wrote for the Baltimore Evening Sun for over 40 years and originated its "Books and Authors" column. Although a native Philadelphian, he adopted Baltimore as his home town.Several times a year he would write an essay about the comings and goings his Tuxedo Park neighborhood. His books include centennial histories of the Baltimore Orioles and the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and a detailed study of pre-Prohibition Maryland rye whiskey. Fellow journalist Russell Baker praised his "imagination, wit, and the graceful lilt of his writing." James Bready is remembered as the Dean of Baltimore Editorialists and the arbiter of the towns' literary scene.
John W. McGrain, the now retired Baltimore County Historian and Secretary of the County’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has served as exacting scholar of the county's past and continuing advocate for the preservation of its historic sites. His publications have long chronicled the county's steel-making, bridge-building and milling from pig iron to cotton duck. Nor has he overlooked the region’s manufacturing center. For the past sixty five years he has been photographing Baltimore City’s industry. In 2011 he published a book of his 150 photos entitled Dickensian Baltimore: Survivals of a City's Infrastructure. John McGrain serves as a "walking data-base" of the region’s industrial past. His work reminds us that although Baltimore County and Baltimore City are politically separate, they remain economically conjoined.
Charles Fecher (1917- 2012), author, editor, and leading Mencken scholar, was truly a self-educated man - the holder not of a Ph.D., but a G.E.D. certificate. Yet, he combined an approximately two decade career as an administrator with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore with prodigious writing, editing, and research. He wrote book reviews for The Evening Sun and served as book editor of The Catholic Review. He published his first book, The Philosophy of Jacques Maritain, in 1953; his last was the 1998 To Live Is to Change, a 75th anniversary history of Catholic Charities. His great contribution to Baltimore history, however, was his work on H.L. Mencken, including Mencken: A Study of His Thought (1978). In 1986, when the Mencken's diaries were finally unsealed, the Pratt trustees asked Mr. Fecher to edit them. The resulting The Diary of H.L. Mencken (1989), to Mr. Fecher also wrote an introduction, offered a rounded and, to some, shocking insight into Mencken's mind. Mr. Fecher edited Menckeniana, the quarterly journal of Mencken studies, from 1985 to 2000. Mencken scholar Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, quoted in The Sun obituary by Fred Rasmussen, called Mr. Fecher "an erudite and superior writer, the giant among Mencken scholars."
Tom Ward and Joyce Ward (1929 - 2011), is/was active in city civic and political life and preservation since the 1950s. They lost some battles, such as the 1950's urban renewal plan that demolished hundreds of Bolton Hill homes, but were successful in halting the proposed East-West Expressway and construction of an interstate highway in Fells Point and Federal Hill. Mark Reutter wrote in Baltimore Brew, it was due to "tooth and claw" effort of "brave citizens," that the East-West Expressway "didn’t wind up disfiguring dozens of city neighborhoods." The Wards led in creating the Irish Shrine and Railroad Workers Museum in southwest Baltimore. Joyce Ward served as treasurer. Thomas Ward created a walking tour. They preserved buildings on Lemmon Street and interpret the history of Irish railroad workers, their families, and their institutions. Joyce served as a volunteer and later a staff member at Maryland Historical Society; Tom served as a BCHS trustee and Commission on Historic and Architectural Preservation member.
Rev. William J. Watters, S.J. is the pastor of St. Ignatius Church in Baltimore. Fr. Watters taught at St. Joseph’s High School in Philadelphia and at Loyola Blakefield and was a pastor at Old St. Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia and at St. Joseph's Church in Benin, Nigeria. When Rev. Watters arrived at St. Ignatius in 1991, it was a struggling urban church with a declining congregation, facing an uncertain future. Enlisting the active assistance of its members, Fr. Watters increased the congregation from about 175 to 600. In 1993, he became founder and President of the St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, a school for boys from low-income households in grades 6, 7 and 8. There are currently about 70 students enrolled and they attend classes for 11 months a year. Tuition is about $5000 per student but, aside from a monthly fee of $10 paid by the student’s family, the rest is covered by foundation grants, the Jesuit Province of Maryland, and personal donations. Fr. Watters is known as a talented, determined fund-raiser. Students are accepted for St. Ignatius Academy without regard for religion. The school is located on Calvert Street at the original site of Loyola College. In 2014-14, it will move to Federal Hill at St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Church. In 2004, Fr. Watters chaired a committee to consider the creation of a new school - Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. The students at the coeducational school would earn a part of their tuition in work-study jobs at local law and investment firms, banks, and hospitals, exposing students from some of the city’s most disadvantaged students to a white-collar work environment that could encourage them to set their sights on college and successful careers. The school opened in 2007. While parochial schools were closing, Fr. Watters created two thriving schools that served young people of all faiths from families of modest incomes, and prepared them for the educational success that will enable them to contribute to the well-being of their communities and the city.
Martin Appell Dyer (1930 - 2011) was an attorney and a devoted advocate of fair housing. He was a longtime resident of the Windsor Hills, an active member of its neighborhood association, editor of its newsletter, and co-author of a history of his racially integrated community. Martin Dyer was a native Baltimorean who graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1948. In that year he became the first African American student at St. John's College in Annapolis, the first college south of the Mason-Dixon Line to desegregate voluntarily. Dyer enlisted in the army after graduating in 1952. After his 1954 discharge, he earned a law degree from University of Maryland and worked as a congressional staff member in Washington. Mr. Dyer later worked for the Health Care Finance Administration, from which he retired in 1990. He became associate director of Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc., investigating housing discrimination complaints and monitoring enforcement of laws prohibiting discrimination. After again retiring, he continued as an independent fair housing consultant and spoke to groups of realtors about their obligations under fair housing laws. Mr. Dyer was active at St. John's College and was a member of its Board of Visitors and Governors. St. John’s created the Martin Dyer Book Fund in 1997 to help students meet the cost of purchasing the Great Books that are central to the College's curriculum. He is survived by his wife, the former Jane Weeden, who taught French at Bryn Mawr and Roland Park Country Schools. The couple married in 1962 in Rhode Island as Maryland miscegenation laws in force then prevented them from marrying here.
James B. Cooper (1934 - 2011) was an A-rabber from the time that he graduated from high school. Later, as an apprentice to a master builder, he became highly skilled in carpentry, blacksmithing, and metalworking each of which would later serve him in his business of building, repairing and restoring arabber wagons. Mr. Cooper continued the arabber tradition of traveling to the Amish community in Pennsylvania in order to get parts. True to his vocation at all times, he was known to fix broken down arabber carts while dressed in a suit. Mr. Cooper was a master in the Maryland State Arts Council's Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Program and shared stories of his life at the Creative Alliance. Mr. Cooper worked until three months before his death.
Lucretia Billings Fisher (1913 - 2011) was a transplant to Baltimore, but she loved and admired the city as fiercely as any convert. In 1967, aware that the City Council was debating the construction of an East-West Expressway to cut through Fells Point, she purchased a house on Thames Street. Later that year when the City Council voted to allow construction of the highway through Fells Point, she organized and became president of the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill, Montgomery Street, and Fells Point. Twenty-three people were present at the first meeting. Ultimately, the Society sued the federal government for its plans to destroy part of what was already deemed a historic site. In addition to being a preservationist, Mrs. Fisher was a believer in women’s rights and racial equality, invested in real estate, and wrote two children's books.
Hubert V. "Bert" Simmons (1924-2009) played for the old Negro Leagues’ Elite Giants in Baltimore before spending thirty years as a Baltimore City public school teacher. He coached and mentored many young athletes throughout his life. He was a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, an active member of Lochearn Presbyterian Church and a charter member of the Negro League Baseball Players Association. With his wife Audrey, he founded the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of Maryland, Inc. It is now named in his honor as The Hubert V. Simmons Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of Maryland, Inc. and is devoted to preserving the legacy of Blacks in Baseball. The museum's collection and exhibits include a comprehensive display of photos, collectibles and a large array of memorabilia. The museum takes visitors on a journey back to the early years of baseball, when racial segregation led to the establishment of a separate league for African Americans "barnstorming" around the country principally during a period of professional play from 1920 to 1955.
Joseph Balkoski, over the past 30 years, has written seven books on World War II and D-Day and the 29th Division, which was largely composed of soldiers from Maryland and Virginia. Drawn on a vast array of eye-witness accounts, in “Omaha Beach,” he chronicles in gripping fashion the bloodiest day in World War II for the US Army and its ultimate victory. He is the Director of Maryland Museum of Military History and was appointed to the Maryland Military Monuments Commission in 2003 and has worked on the preservation of the state’s military shrines.
Howell S. Baum, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of MD, wrote “Brown in Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism” and other books on community planning, including “The Organization of Hope.” In “Brown,” Baum chronicles the process of desegregation following the 1954 Supreme Court decision. While Baltimore avoided the violence and bitter resistance that accompanied school integration in Little Rock and in the Deep South, the School Board’s policy of “Freedom of Choice” did little to change the racial composition of the schools. Baum narrates the political twists and turns of the Baltimore School Board and allows us to confront this sad history of our city.
John Maclay established his own publishing company, Maclay and Associates, and published 15 books on Baltimore and Maryland history and architecture, primarily in the 1980s. He included such notable authors as John Dorsey, “Mount Vernon Place;” Frank Shivers, “Maryland Wits and Baltimore Bards,” and Carleton Jones, “Lost Baltimore Landmarks, a Portfolio of Vanished Buildings.” He also has been an advocate for historic preservation, serving on the Board of Baltimore Heritage and as President from 1976-78 and 2001- 4.
Kathleen Kotarba grew up in Catonsville and is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and Johns Hopkins University. She has served as the Executive Director of the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation since 1981. She has the uncanny ability to navigate through the regulations of city, state, and federal government, and her sparkling personality enables her to work with an array of developers, planners, preservationists, neighborhood organizations, homeowners, politicians and civil servants. Guided by her deep commitment to preserving our historic buildings, she has overseen the growth of the number of locally designated historic districts from 9 to currently 35, and the continuing care of our historic monuments which now number over 150. Under her leadership, Baltimore established a historic tax credit program, which has encouraged property owners to invest in the city’s historic districts, which is a great economic benefit to our community.
Jeff Korman, long-term manager of the Maryland Room of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, has worked in the EPFL for 32 years. He has also been involved in training librarians in Maryland subjects and has undertaken lectures and public programs for libraries. The City Paper in 2001 named him Baltimore’s “Best Librarian” and observed, “He’s the man who knows, and if by some miracle he doesn’t, he’ll know how to find out. He’s been noted in articles and cited numerous times in publications all over the state. Best of all, he will not make you feel like an idiot for not knowing something obvious.” He received his B.S. at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and M.A. from University of Southern Florida in Library Science. Jeff has taken city history to You Tube where he can be seen revealing the secrets of Edgar Allen Poe at the Pratt to the delight of viewers.
Patricia Welch grew up in Baltimore and attended segregated schools until 1954 when she was part of the first desegregated class at Eastern High School. After graduating from Coppin State College, she taught in the City public school system for 22 years. She also earned an MA from Morgan State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1989, she was appointed Assistant Dean of Education at Morgan State University, and later became Dean, a position she holds today. She also served on the Baltimore Board of School Commissioners, starting in 1997 and as President from 2001 to 2005, when she retired from the Board.
Karen Lewand, originally from Michigan, came to Baltimore in 1977, and soon became much involved in restoring and enhancing the city’s architectural heritage. She served on the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation and on the Baltimore Heritage Board of Directors for 27 years, where she developed some of the first walking tours of historic neighborhoods. Two of her important advocacy projects were the restorations of the Basilica of the Assumption and of Gallagher Mansion in Radnor- Winston. She served as executive director of the American Institute of Architects, Baltimore Chapter, 1992-2012, and she compiled neighborhood histories in her book “North Baltimore, from Estate to Development.”
Benjamin Whitten, born and raised in Wilmington (DE) and a World War II veteran, began teaching industrial arts in Baltimore in 1948. As vice principal, principal, and director of vocational education in Baltimore during 1968-79, he set high standards for students and teachers and pioneered in securing federal funding for vocational programs. After his retirement, he served as the President of the Baltimore Chapter of the Urban League, 1982-87. He energized the organization, revived job training and placement programs, housing and family counseling and consumer services, while also instituting ground-breaking studies focused on issues critical to African-Americans. On his death in 2012, he was mourned as a “true giant.”
Willie Alexander Harry was born in South Carolina, moved with his family to Baltimore as a child and then graduated from Carver Vocational-Technical High School in 1949. He first worked in industry, but then started a barbering career in the 1960s, opening Harry’s Afro Hut on York Road in 1972. As Vincent Williams observed in a 1996 “City Paper” review, “In the black community, barbers serve as prophets, sages, referees, philosophers, trash talkers, teachers, and walking encyclopedias, all in one. And they cut hair…And Willie Harry is one of the best.” People of all walks of life gathered in his shop, including some very notable Baltimoreans, Orioles Eddie Murray and Paul Blair, Colt Lenny Moore, and Oprah Winfrey. Mr. Harry taught barbering at the Westside Skill Center and gave many of his students their first jobs in his shop. He also donated his services to residents of the Rosewood State Hospital and to many local children whose families could not afford to pay.
is a key leader in the Maryland Film and TV industry. In 1993, he founded the Producers
Club of Maryland to assist the Maryland Film Office in attracting film and television production to
Maryland. Six years later, Mr. Dietz launched (and still is the director) the Maryland Film Festival, an
annual five day event in early May, presenting top-notch film and video work from all over the world.
Each year the festival screens about 50 feature films and 75 short films of all varieties – narrative,
documentary, animation, experimental, and hybrid – to tens of thousands of audience members. The
Maryland Film Festival’s mission is to expand the horizons of audiences by presenting diverse voices and
uncompromising visions, to challenge the next generation of film-goers, and to showcase Baltimore as a
thriving center of film culture and film making. His newest project is to establish a permanent home for
the Festival. In partnership with MICA and Johns Hopkins, Jed Dietz is undertaking the renovation of the
historic Parkway Theatre on North Avenue.
during her career to preserve our hometown traditions, she has been a folklorist for the City of
Baltimore and the State of Maryland, serving as director for cultural conservation for the Maryland
Historical Trust and advisor for a myriad of films, exhibitions, tours, oral history projects, public
programs and publications. Since the 1980s, she has champion Baltimore screen painters, Smith island
cake bakers, muskrat skinners, watermen, and Patapsco River mill towns and workers. In 2009, she
received the Botkin prize from the American Folklore Society for her accomplishments. Following her
passion for Baltimore Screen painting, which was the subject of her doctoral dissertation at the University
of Pennsylvania, she published last year, The Painted Screens of Baltimore: an Urban Folk Art Revealed,
hailed as the greatest single book about Baltimore in fifty years.
Garrett Power is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. For
over forty years, he has chronicled the governmental regulation of Maryland’s environmental resources
and Baltimore’s urban development. His publications include: Chesapeake Bay in Legal Perspective
(1970), More about Oysters than you wanted to know(1970), Apartheid Baltimore Style (1983), Parceling
Out Land in Baltimore, 1632-1796 (1992), Deconstructing the Slums of Baltimore (2002). He has worked
with economists, political scientists, geologists, historians, and archivists when conducting
interdisciplinary seminars on environmental history and city planning. He also organized several
academic and scholarly conferences on behalf of the BCHS.
Maria Broom Although nationally known as an actress in her roles in “The Wire” and “the Corner,” Ms. Broom
is a storyteller and dancer with more than 40 years of performing and teaching in the US and across the
globe. A native Baltimorean, she attended Western High School, Morgan State University, and Peabody
Conservatory. She has studied dance as a Fulbright Scholar in Berlin and in Hawaii and Africa and still
has been based in her home town for many years. Ms. Broom has had a multi-faceted career as a dancer,
actress and story-teller and TV reporter (WJZ in Baltimore), as well as an instructor at local schools,
colleges and universities. Currently, she is on theatre faculty at Baltimore School for the Arts. As an
actress, she has performed at Baltimore’s Center Stage and Arena Playhouse and for TV series mentioned
above along with “West Wing” and “Homicide.” Through all of her modes of expression, she passes on
the values of beauty, grace, self-discipline and thoughtful behavior. Maria Broom’s special joie de vivre,
shared generously with Baltimore audiences, make her one of Baltimore's most loved citizens.
Ronald Parks is a lifelong Baltimore resident who has worked as an operations engineer with
Baltimore City since 1981 where he was led to preserve the most comprehensive collective of local
waterworks history in the metropolitan region. On being directed to throw a “bunch of old stuff away,” Ron began saving plate glass negatives, lantern slides, personal journals and letters, hundreds of files and
books, thousands of photographs, as well as maps, drawings and blueprints. From this material he
produced Loch Raven on the Gunpowder, a photobook of Loch Raven Dam and connecting pipe
construction, which supplies the City of Baltimore, Building the Gunpowder Falls – Montebello Tunnel
1935-40, a history of the tunnel built to connect Loch Raven reservoir with the Montebello Filtration
Plant, and Tidbits: Odds and Ends from Baltimore’s Water Department History. Ron is a local hero who
saved a history which would have been otherwise lost to us and then in his spare time made it available in
a public format.
Romaine Stec Somerville a long-time Bolton Hill resident, Ms. Somerville has spent her career in public service
concerned with historic preservation and in 2003 she became The Baltimore City Historical Society’s
president, serving two years. She succeeded BCHS founder John Carroll Byrnes in the job as he became
chairman. During the prior decade she was a leader of the Society for Preservation of Federal Hill and
Fell’s Point, seven years as executive director. Romaine led efforts culminating in creation, with the
Maryland Historical Society, of the Fell’s Point Maritime Museum—which received more acclaim than
patronage and closed in 2006 after two years. In 1978-84, Romaine was director of MHS, and in 1966-72
she was executive director of the city’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. An
abiding concern has been resurrection of the Peale Museum and she is active in current efforts to establish
the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture.
Arthur James "The Bulldog" Donovan was born in the Bronx, New York in 1924 and was
drafted by the Baltimore Colts in 1950. For eight of his eleven seasons in the National Football League,
he played defensive tackle for the Colts, anchoring a solid defense that led to world championships in
1958 and 1959. Retiring in 1962, he was inducted into football’s Hall of Fame in 1968. Standing at 6’ 2” and weighing 275 pounds, he cast a large shadow inside the confines of Memorial Stadium. Off the field,
he loomed even larger. With his flattop crew cut and meaty handshake, the decorated WWII Marine
veteran was more “Bawlmer” than most Baltimoreans, finding an instant home from Locust Point to
Sparrows Point., with his self-effacing humor and side-splitting tales of life in the NFL. With colorful
stories, he was a fixture at charity events and sports banquets around town, often appearing for no fee.
Following the publication of his autobiography “Fatso,” he became a nationwide PR man for his beloved
city. Today we hope this honor will be among Artie’s favorite stories.
Homer E. Favor moved to Baltimore in 1956 to teach at Morgan State University from which he
retired in 2001 as a professor of economics. He worked with other civil rights and political activists to
have black people elected to public office. Favor was known for his vision and integrity. His colleague
Patrick Scott said of him, “You …don’t do civil rights unless you’re will to stand up and take the risks. He
was compassionate, but most of all, he was a man of action and determination.” In 1963, he helped
establish the University’s School of Urban Studies and Human Development, where he served as Dean
from 1973 to 1982. According to the University’s history webpage, “the seeds of the design and planning
programs at Morgan were sowed in 1956 [by] Homer E. Favor. His dissertation was on property value
and race – a topic that aroused his interest in poor urban communities. His arrival began a period of
intense involvement in community planning activities in Baltimore.”
Jean Hepner, known as the first lady of Fell Street and a stalwart of Fell's Point, died at 91 in an auto accident
on February 1, 2014. She and her husband Dr. Ray Hepner bought the 18th century John Steele House in 1968
during the turmoil of the Interstate road fight that threatened the neighborhood's existence. They restored
the house that is now a perennial of the Preservation Society spring Historic House Tour. She was active
in that organization and created a colonial garden for its nearby Robert Long House headquarters. In
2008, Jean received the 'Point's Emeritus 9/11 Selfless Community Service Award. This summer, the
Society dedicated the garden to her.
Gregory Kane native Baltimorean and a graduate of City College in 1969, attended Franklin and
Marshall College and then worked for Sinai Hospital in the fields of data processing and transportation. In
1984, while still at Sinai, he began to write freelance op ed columns for the Baltimore Sun. In 1995, he
worked full time as a columnist for the Sun with provocative and perceptive observations. His City
College classmate Congressman Elijah Cummings said, “he had the ability to make you think about the
other side of the issue…You certainly never know what he was going to say.” In 1997, working with Sun
reporter Gilbert Lewthwaite, he wrote a series on slavery in the Sudan, which gained them a nomination
for the Pulitzer Prize and other awards. After he left the Sunpapers in 2008 he wrote for the Baltimore and
Jerome R. Garitee had a lengthy career teaching history in Baltimore County schools and at Essex Community College. He also wrote The Republic’s Private Navy, which was meticulously researched explaining how the system of privateering functioned in Baltimore during the War of 1812. Of course, the Battle of Baltimore has been well-documented and celebrated, but Baltimore was involved in another aspect of the conflict – on the open seas. Baltimore merchants pooled their resources to finance individual privateering ships. Each merchant spread the risks by financing a variety of ships, as no one knew whether a voyage would be successful. They had the shipyards build ships that were fast enough to outsail the British. Overall, Baltimore privateers captured 500 British merchant vessels, the largest number from any port. Once a British ship was captured, it had to be brought to a port, and then the cargo would be auctioned and the proceeds divided between the crew and the merchants; but sometimes the British recaptured the ship. Thomas Boyle, commanding the Chasseur, also dubbed the Pride of Baltimore, was the best known privateer who caused havoc in the home waters around the British Isles by capturing 18 ships.
Deborah Rudacille, grew up in Dundalk, a descendent of steel workers at Sparrows Point. In Roots of Steel, she narrates the story of the beginnings of steel-making in 1887 by the Pennsylvania Steel Company, which eventually was bought by Bethlehem Steel in 1916. At its peak in 1959, the company claimed to have the largest steel plant in the world, employing 36,000 workers. While the work was hard and dangerous, workers earned enough to support a family. Nevertheless, the company ignored health and environmental problems and failed to modernize, and a decline began in the 1970s, ending with the Bethlehem’s bankruptcy in 2001. Since then, the facility has had a variety of owners until it was completely closed and dismantled. Deborah Rudacille deftly uses primary and secondary sources, as well as interviews with workers and their families of a variety of backgrounds and races, to tell the story of the boom and bust of one of our greatest industrial enterprises.
Martin O’Malley truly embodied the essence of a living historian. Through persistent, tireless efforts, he made people around the world aware of the heroic historic leading role our city played in protecting our young nation during the War of 1812 and in building a sense of national pride and purpose. Through his own original songs, his wearing period costumes and his use of executive authority, he put Baltimore on the historic map. Brought to brilliant life by his direction were the stories surrounding the Battle and Bombardment of Baltimore and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner, which became our National Anthem. His vision and determination led the way to a daily delivery of activities, multi-media messages and large scale programs over a three year period which was colorfully coined our Star Spangled Spectacular. He was the architect and the hero who saw to it that one of the city’s most significant moments in history was powerfully portrayed front-and-center in our consciousness as well as celebrated in the grandest fashion that made history lovers of everyone. For this we salute our former Baltimore City Councilman, Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Governor.
Bill Pencek has to be one of our most deserving recipients of a Living History Honors. He was Executive Director of the Governor’s Maryland Bicentennial Commission for the enormously successful Star Spangled 200 celebration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, showcasing Maryland’s role in the war and the birth of the Star Spangled Banner to both local residents and visitors from around the country and the world. In this most important Maryland and Baltimore history celebration, Bill led and oversaw the ongoing festivities, creating and coordinating activities from around the state, especially the most popular week long Sailabration of June 2012, and the 10 day Star Spangled Spectacular of September 2014. Each event brought more than 1.5 million visitors to Baltimore and to Maryland to enjoy ships visiting from around the world, performances of the Navy Blue Angels, and many other exhibits. The Star Spangled 200 celebration developed educational activities about the war and the role of Baltimore and of Maryland. Through grants and other stimuli, Star Spangled 200 assisted others in resource stewardship, education, tourism and economic development projects, which ensured that Marylanders and millions of visitors had the opportunity to participate and benefit from the exciting and diverse bicentennial activities.
Three quarters of a century of Baltimore history have been photographed by three members of the same family, all sharing the same name. – Irving Henry Webster Phillips. To avoid confusion, each emphasized a different portion of the name.
Irving H. W. Phillips, Sr., a World War II veteran, started working for the Baltimore Afro-American as a photojournalist in 1949, documenting a side of Baltimore most of the mainstream press overlooked. After his retirement in 1973, he owned and operated Phillips Photo in Oldtown Mall until 1980. He was married to Afro Librarian-Archivist Laura Mackay Phillips, whose rich knowledge of Baltimore aided in her work. Irving Phillips passed away in 1993, and Laura Mackay Phillips in 2012.
I. Henry Phillips, Jr. served as a radio operator and radio teletypist in Vietnam for two years. Returning to Baltimore, he first worked for the Afro-American and then as a staff photographer for The Sun, retiring in 1993 after 24 years. While his assignments for the paper covered all aspects of life in the City, he also continued his father’s work in documenting life in the African-American community. The turbulent social and economic changes that occurred during his time at the Sun are reflected in his work.
Webster Phillips, III is also a photographer, but not a full-time photojournalist. His work has been published in the Afro-American and other area papers. He maintains the family tradition of producing an artistic and graphic work about the Baltimore of his generation. He also has taken stewardship of his family’s legacy and has begun a project to scan as many of his grandfather’s photos as possible, in order to make them available on line. Thus far, he has scanned about 10,000 images, about one fifth of the whole number.
The work of the three Phillips photographers has been exhibited at Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture and other venues. Combined, their work documents the history of Baltimore, celebrating and honoring the richness and diversity of the African-American community. It has been called, “an incredible social archive and reference.”
Rhoda Dorsey, after graduating from Smith College magna cum laude in 1949, finished her doctorate from the University of Minnesota 7 years later. In 1954, she began teaching at Goucher College as an assistant professor of history. In 1968, she became academic dean, and then President of Goucher College in 1973. She was a vocal advocate for a strong liberal arts education and academic rigor. While she hoped to maintain Goucher as a women’s college, she oversaw the transition to co-education when the finances dictated such a change. After 40 years of service, and 20 years as President, she retired in 1994, but continued to return to the campus to advise and support her college.
Valeri McNeal was a person of light who served as a guiding beacon in her beloved city, where she lived her entire life. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in urban studies, she first worked as a paralegal and then joined what is now known as the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, where she worked as a human relations representative in the investigative unit before becoming an intake officer. A long-time member of the first Unitarian Church of Baltimore, she conducted tours of the historic building, maintained church archives, and assisted in the restoration of its sanctuary and its 1818 pulpit designed by the French architect Maximilian Godefroy. At the time of her death, she was restoring the lectern in the church. As an avid gardener, she also tended a garden along the side of the church. Her love of history led her to the Baltimore City Historical Society where she was a board member and secretary. Every year she managed the welcome table for the Mayor’s Reception. She was a member of Baltimore Heritage, chair of her church’s Architectural and Historical Review Committee, and member and past president of the African American Quilters of Baltimore.
Bishop L. Robinson, Sr., was born and raised in Baltimore. After graduating from Douglass High School in 1945, he served in the Army. He joined the city Police Department in January 1952 as a foot patrolman. He steadfastly rose through the ranks; his remarkable career was highlighted by his selection as Baltimore’s first African-American police commissioner in 1984. Three years later, Governor Schaefer chose him to serve as Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Later, he served as Secretary of Juvenile Services for Governor Glendening. Along the way, he earned a B.A. and a law degree from the University of Baltimore, as well as a Master’s in education from Coppin State University. He was also a founding member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. In 2007, the Baltimore City Police Headquarters was named in his honor. Through his patience and perseverance, he broke down racial barriers in the Police Department. He knew the streets of Baltimore and the people who lived on those streets. But more importantly, he spoke the language of those people, regardless if these streets were located in Fells Point, Homeland, or Cherry Hill. He was a police officer for any and all times, the consummate role model for anyone in the law enforcement field.
June Wing, a Chicago native and Oberlin College graduate, moved to Baltimore with her husband in 1949. In over five decades here, she was a political, social and environmental activist for peace, for civil rights and liberties, for professional and experimental ethics, for gender and financial equality, for increased caution in the uses of ionizing radiation, and for nuclear disarmament. After earning a master’s degree in science, technology, and public policy from George Washington University in 1976, she taught at the high school, college, and post-graduate levels at Goucher, Loyola, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Heath on issues of nuclear testing, radiation hazards, and environmental ethics. She was involved in numerous civic advocacy groups, including the League of Women Voters and Nuclear-free America, which persuaded the Baltimore City Council to pass an ordinance declaring Baltimore a “Nuclear-free Zone.” Her activism was characterized by both intellectual depth and hands-on activity. She helped block plans in 1969 to build an 8 lane expressway through Fells Point, Canton and Highlandtown and got I-95 rerouted through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, sparing targeted communities. She was a role model, mentor and friend to many. For over 60 years, she was a member of the First Unitarian Church at Charles and Franklin Streets.