Jean Walker hon­ored as “Neigh­bor­hood Hero”

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By NI­COLE RODMAN nrod­man@ches­pub.com

Jean Walker, long­time pres­i­dent of the Dun­dalkPat­ap­sco Neck His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, was among seven com­mu­nity lead­ers hon­ored dur­ing Bal­ti­more County’s in­au­gu­ral Neigh­bor­hood Hero awards.

The life­long Dun­dalk res­i­dent re­ceived a Bal­ti­more County ex­ec­u­tive ci­ta­tion and Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the His­toric Court­house in Tow­son on Oct. 12.

Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Ka­manetz and mem­bers of the Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil were also on hand for last week’s cer­e­mony.

“These folks are our un­sung he­roes, truly im­pres­sive and folks who un­selfishly de­vote their time and en­er­gies and ex­per­tise be­cause they sim­ply want to give back and keep our com­mu­ni­ties strong,” Kamenetz said of the honorees.

Walker rep­re­sented dis­trict seven in the awards, which were pre­sented to one de­serv­ing com­mu­nity ac­tivist in each of the county’s seven coun­cil­manic dis­tricts.

Born in Dun­dalk, Jean Ann Walker grad­u­ated from Dun­dalk High School in 1952 and Tow­son State Col­lege in 1958. Now re­tired, she taught at Our Lady of Hope School, Mer­ritt Point El­e­men­tary and San­dal­wood El­e­men­tary School dur­ing her ca­reer.

A mem­ber of Our Lady of Hope Ro­man Catholic Church since the age of 7, Walker serves as a Eucharis­tic min­is­ter and par­ish vis­i­tor at the church. She has also served as chair of the church’s blood drive.

How­ever, it is in her ca­pac­ity as long­time pres­i­dent of

the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety that Walker is best known.

Walker joined the so­ci­ety as a vol­un­teer fol­low­ing her re­tire­ment from teach­ing in 1992. In 1995, she was in­vited to be­come a board mem­ber; she was elected vice pres­i­dent of the group in 1997. She served as act­ing pres­i­dent for sev­eral years dur­ing the ill­ness of then-pres­i­dent, the late Eleanor Lukanich, be­fore be­ing elected pres­i­dent of the so­ci­ety in 2001. It is a post she con­tin­ues to hold to­day.

In her role as pres­i­dent, Walker spear­heads many as­pects of the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety and its mu­seum, in­clud­ing se­cur­ing and pro­cess­ing ac­qui­si­tions, plan­ning and cre­at­ing dis­plays and co­or­di­nat­ing the so­ci­ety’s many events.

This year has been a par­tic­u­larly busy one for the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety, with the 100th an­niver­sary of Old Dun­dalk cel­e­bra­tion this sum­mer, the so­ci­ety’s 50-year-old time cap­sule open­ing in June, as well as flea mar­kets, speak­ers and other spe­cial events.

Walker is the first to ac­knowl­edge that keep­ing the so­ci­ety run­ning is a team ef­fort, a sen­ti­ment she shared with county deputy di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions Ellen Kobler dur­ing last week’s award cer­e­mony in Tow­son.

“It was a real honor for me to be nom­i­nated and awarded, but it’s not all me – ev­ery vol­un­teer at the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety is a part of what we do,” Walker told Kobler.

In fact, the Dun­dalk-Pat­ap­sco Neck His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety is one of the only his­tor­i­cal so­ci­eties in the re­gion to be open full-time hours, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. week­days, staffed en­tirely by vol­un­teers.

Sev­eral mem­bers of the so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing Harry Young, Ray Scott and Dolores Stump, were among the five in­di­vid­u­als who nom­i­nated Walker for the award.

“She does tremen­dous re­search,” Young told the

Ea­gle last week, not­ing that he “can’t think of any­one who de­serves [the award] more.”

Ac­cord­ing to Walker she was “shocked” when she heard from Young that she has been se­lected for the award — es­pe­cially since she didn’t know the award ex­isted in the first place.

“I knew noth­ing at all about it,” she said.

Never one to seek the spot­light, Walker added, “They know I’m not happy about things like that.”

Nev­er­the­less, she wished to thank those who nom­i­nated her, as well as the fam­ily and friends who ac­com­pa­nied her to Tow­son for last week’s cer­e­mony.

For Walker, how­ever, her work with the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety is not about ku­dos.

“When I started vol­un­teer­ing, it wasn’t for recog­ni­tion or honor, it was be­cause I felt strongly for a cause or or­ga­ni­za­tion,” she ex­plained.

For Walker, the im­por­tance of teach­ing res­i­dents — es­pe­cially young res­i­dents — about their his­tory can not be over­stated.

“I didn’t know any­thing about Dun­dalk his­tory be­cause they don’t teach it in school,” she said.

In their mis­sion — “col­lect­ing and pre­serv­ing the his­tory” of Dun­dalk — Walker and her fel­low vol­un­teers seek to pass that his­tory down to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Dun­dalkians, now and those to come.

“It is im­por­tant to keep his­tory go­ing so peo­ple know what came be­fore,” she said.

For now, Walker will keep busy col­lect­ing and pre­serv­ing this his­tory with her fel­low his­to­ri­ans.

The so­ci­ety will soon be hard at work build­ing this year’s Christ­mas Train Gar­den to be housed, as al­ways, in the so­ci­ety mu­seum at 4 Cen­ter Place, across from the Dun­dalk Post Of­fice.

The dis­play will open on Satur­day, Dec. 2, dur­ing the Dun­dalk Christ­mas Pa­rade and Hol­i­day Hoopla event, and re­main open through New Year’s Day.

For more on the Dun­dalkPat­ap­sco Neck His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, call 410-284-2331 or visit www.dun­dalkhis­tory. org.

COUR­TESY BAL­TI­MORE COUNTY

Jean Walker (sec­ond from left) was hon­ored by (far left) Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz (D), (far right) Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil­man Todd Cran­dell (R-7) and (sec­ond from right) Cran­dell’s se­nior coun­cil as­sis­tant Doug An­der­son last week in Tow­son.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF BAL­TI­MORE COUNTY

One com­mu­nity ac­tivist from each coun­cil­manic dis­trict was hon­ored dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral Neigh­bor­hood Hero awards on Oct. 12.

Jean Walker re­ceived ci­ta­tions and res­o­lu­tions in her honor in Tow­son last week.

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