In a celebration to be attended by recipients and family representatives, elected officials and area residents, the inaugural West Chester Walk of Fame plaques will be unveiled on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 2:00pm during a ceremony at Borough Hall in West Chester.
The initial seven honorees named include Thomas Ustick Walter; N.C. Wyeth; Elinor Z. Taylor; Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste; Phillip Jamison; Dr. Charles Swope; and Addy Kelly.
Created 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 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. The committee relied on research done by students from all three of our middle schools here in the WCASD as well as eighth grade students at St. Agnes to compose backgrounds for the 20 semi-finalists. The students provided invaluable insights to the lives and legacies of our notable citizens. Those 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 will be on display at the Borough Hall ceremony, to be permanently installed at various area locations to follow in the weeks or months 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.
The following will be included on the Walk of Fame:
- Thomas Ustick Walter, 1804 – 1887: Nationally renowned architect who designed the U.S. Capitol Dome, the Historic County Courthouse, and Horticulture Hall in West Chester. Plaque presented by Rob Lukens 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. Plaque presented by Darcy Goldberg of the Chester County Art Association.
- Elinor Zimmerman Taylor, 1921 – 2010: State Representative 156th District, first female W.C. Borough Council member, advocate for women’s rights, the elderly, child care, and education. Plaque presented by State Senator Andy Dinniman.
- Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, 1924 – present: Founder of DeBaptiste Funeral Home, Mayor of West Chester (1994-2002), widely known for his business acumen, civic and religious leadership and philanthropy. Plaque presented by West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta.
- Phillip Jamison, 1925 – present: Considered one of America’s premier watercolor artists and has been featured in many major national museums. Plaque presented by Ann Christie of the Chester County Art Association.
- Dr. Charles Swope, 1930 – 2003: “Mr. West Chester”, President of the First National Bank, Marine veteran, community and civic leader, West Chester University Board President. Plaque presented by Jim McErlane, Esq.
- Addy Kelly, 1936 – 2005: Co-Founder of Kelly’s Sports, the Little All American Football Association and West Chester Area Sports Association, business leader, and generous community figure. Plaque presented by Ann Duke.