George Kendrick loves football and bleeds red and gold for the Arbutus Athletic Association, so when they celebrated the organization's 85th anniversary by inducting 26 new members into the Hall of Fame, the 90-year old couldn't have been more excited.
"It is my love," he said. "Other than my wife (Naamah), football is the next best thing. For 70 year's it's all I did."
Actually, Kendrick, has been actively involved running softball and basketball programs and helping to organized the Arbutus Firecracker 10K, but football is his first and deepest passion.
That passion originated in the 1940's when he met and Ross Rainey, the pillar of the organization before Kendrick.
"What a wonderful man," Kendrick said. "He was my best friend."
Kendrick asked former president Steve Kuhn to read a tribute about Rainey, which was originally spoken during a night honoring Rainey, on July 21, 1968.
Kuhn read the piece about Rainey, stating, "During his years of unprecedented service to the community, he proved without doubt his sincere belief that the endless energy of boys is a positive and notable trait needing only the proper vehicle for its outlet. The Arbutus Athletic Association provided that vehicle. Ross Rainey guided that vehicle."
Kuhn continued reading, "This night was made possible, not by the effort of individuals, but by the spontaneous agreement by all of the community that this tribute is well-deserved and long overdue."
Then Kuhn spoke to the crowd at Martins West about what those words meant to the people involved with the Arbutus Athletic Association.
"Every single word we just read about Ross Rainey applies to the 26 people (new inductees) and the 25 people before them, and the people that are still in the organization, as members and coaches and players, that keep this organization what it is today — the absolute greatest youth organization in the entire world."
In the previous induction, candidates, as stated in the bylaws, included only coaches or players.
There was no mention of volunteers so Kendrick suggested they change the by laws.
"Everybody did something and that's the only way we could recognize them was to change the bylaws," Kendrick said.
Thus, Sherry Kuhn was honored as the first pure volunteer Hall of Fame inductee.
Kuhn worked concessions for endless hours in the red truck and eventually organized registration and fundraising.
In one year, she spearheaded a fundraiser selling cheesecakes that made $17,000.
Kuhn was involved for 10 years and when she received her award she said, "It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the organization and I am honored."
Later in the evening, her son, Matt Kuhn, the current president was also inducted.
Among the other inductees were Robert Hulse, Joe Rauser, Larry O'Neil, Tommy Johnson, Lindy Bowman, Harry Prince, Nick Fritz, Pete Urbanski, Glenn Weber, Valerie Stocksdale, Danny Hoffman, Eric Hamilton, Mary Patterson, Dawn Carroll, Bob Mallory, Keith McLaughlin, Henry Karcher, Tommy Arnold, George Roycroft and Jimmy Schwartz.
Schwartz, a Mount St. Joseph graduate and current head coach of the National Football League's Detroit Lions, was unable to attend because he was preparing for his game against the New Orleans Saints, but his father, Jim Schwartz Sr. accepted his award.
Posthumous inductees included Tommy Crough, John Kuhn, Don Paylor and Carl Linton.
Kendrick, who said his failing eyesight caused him to retire from the sidelines coaching the Arbutus Big Red semi-pro team, introduced several of the inductees with stories etched into his memory.
"When I get up to talk about someone I don't need notes," Kendrick said. "It's all up in my head."
Thousands of football fields worth of great memories of a lot of dedicated people.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun