Seven area notables are honored with bronze sidewalk plaques
October 27, 2013
West Chester PA – The inaugural West Chester Walk of Fame plaques were unveiled in a celebration today at Borough Hall. It was attended by recipients and family representatives plus elected officials and residents as seven honorees recognized as the first to be place on the Walk of Fame.
The seven honorees were Thomas Ustick Walter, N.C. Wyeth, Elinor Z. Taylor, Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, Phillip Jamison, Dr. Charles Swope, and Addy Kelly.
Launched in June, 2012, the Citizen Recognition Project was started by a group of area residents determined to create a legacy of the contributions made by notable citizens who lived in and around West Chester. Led by the Honorable Jim McErlane as Chairman and Jeff Brown as President, the group formed committees to research, nominate, and select the first seven candidates to receive a West Chester Walk of Fame plaque. Not until a list of 94 worthy candidates was developed did the group realize the enormity of the task before them.
In a process infused with difficult decisions throughout, the list of potential nominees was narrowed by the selection committee, at first to 38 and then to 20. Students in the 8th grade at St. Agnes as well as middle school students from the West Chester Area School District did extensive research on the background of the 20 semi-finalists. The biographies were used by the committee to determine the seven individuals to be honored with inaugural West Chester Walk of Fame plaques.
All of the plaques are completed and were on display at the Borough Hall ceremony. Permanent installation occurs at various area locations in the weeks ahead. Planning includes having the two artists honored by having their plaques installed at the Chester County Art Association building on Bradford Avenue as part of their construction project. Dr. DeBaptiste’s plaque will be at Borough Hall, while Thomas U. Walter’s will be installed in the sidewalk in front of the Historic Chester County Courthouse on High Street. Other locations include the street in front of the old First National Bank building on High Street for Dr. Charles Swope’s plaque, while Elinor Taylor’s could be placed in front of her former office on Miner Street or at Borough Hall. Addy Kelly may also be at Borough Hall or in front of St. Agnes Catholic Church.
Below is a brief biography of each of the honorees:
Thomas Ustick Walter, 1804–1887 : Nationally renowned architect who designed the United State Capitol Dome (1855-1866) in Washington DC and the Historic Chester County Courthouse (1846-1848), Horticulture Hall (1848), Chester County Bank Building (1837), and First Presbyterian Church (1832-2013), each in West Chester. The plaque was presented by Dr. Rob Lukens, President of the Chester County Historical Society.
N.C. Wyeth, 1882–1945 : A Founder of the Chester County Art Association, his illustrations of Scribner’s Treasure Island secured his fame nationally as an illustrator. The plaque was presented by Darcy Goldberg of the Chester County Art Association.
Elinor Zimmerman Taylor, 1921–2010 : Pennsylvania State Representative of the 156th District and first female West Council Borough Council member. She was a tireless advocate for women’s rights, the elderly, child care and education. The plaque was presented by Pennsylvania State Senator Andy Dinniman.
Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, 1924–present : Founder of DeBaptiste Funeral Home and Mayor of West Chester (1994-2002). He is widely known for his business acumen, civic and religious leadership and philanthropy. The plaque was presented by West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta.
Phillip Jamison, 1925–present : Considered one of America’s premier watercolor artists, he has been featured in many major national museums. The plaque was presented by Ann Christie of the Chester County Art Association.
Dr. Charles Swope, 1930–2003 : Often referred to as “Mr. West Chester”, he was President of the First National Bank, a U.S. Marine veteran, community and civic leader, and West Chester University Board President. The plaque was presented by Jim McErlane, Esq.
Addy Kelly, 1936–2005 : He was the co-founder of Kelly’s Sports, the Little All American Football Association and West Chester Area Sports Association. As a business leader, he was a generous community figure. The plaque presented by Ann Duke, Esq.
Members of the West Chester Walk of Fame Committee include Jim McErlane, Esq., President; Jeff Brown, CIC, President; Ann Duke, Esq., Treasurer; Jimmer Breen, Beth Harper Briglia, Holly Brown, Mike Brown, Carolyn Comitta, Andy Dinniman, Terence Farrell, Darcy Goldberg, Rob Lukens, Donald Moore, and Robert Partridge.
The West Chester Walk of Fame Fund has been established completely through voluntary contributions and is managed under the Chester County Community Foundation. No public money is used for the project. A copy of the official registration and financial information for the Chester County Community Foundation may be obtained by calling the Pennsylvania Department of State at 800-732-0900. Registration does not imply endorsement.
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For more information contact:
Rob Partridge, Committee Communications
Jeff Brown, President