Jean Walker honored as “Neighborhood Hero”
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.
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.
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.