William Heller Hedeman grew up dirt poor in Relay, according to his wife, Betsy. One of his favorite memories was when the firemen from Relay Fire Hall would treat the children to hot dogs once a month.
"After eating squirrel, rabbits and gudgeon [a small fish, usually used for bait], hot dogs were like filet mignon to him," Betsy Hedeman, 90, told a group of more than 60 who gathered at the at the Relay Town Hall on Nov. 1 for the Relay Improvement Association's 10th annual senior luncheon. "Relay meant so much to my husband. It made him very happy."
To honor her husband's memory, Betsy Hedeman, who now lives in a retirement community in Lutherville, donated $100,000 to the Relay Improvement Association.
After graduating from Catonsville High School in 1936, Bill would go on to a successful career with Bendix. He also taught negotiations at the Johns Hopkins University's McCoy College where there is an endowed professorship at the college in his name.
He and Betsy raised their two daughters in Lutherville before returning to Relay in 1974. There they lived for 30 years in a modular home built by Western Voc-Tech students, she said.
"Thank you seems insufficient," said Faith Hermann, of the community group, said upon accepting the check at the senior luncheon held Nov. 1 at the Relay Town Hall. "Thank you so much, Betsy. There will be a plaque honoring Bill."
Once a fire hall and then a library, the Relay Town Hall is now a hall that the community uses for various purposes.
"It needs a lot of upkeep," Hermann said after Friday afternoon's ceremony as she looked over the grounds and building on Arlington Avenue. "Betsy's donation is so generous and immensely helpful. I can't find the words to say."
Upstairs, the hall has a stage for local productions. On the main level is a kitchen. The hall has been rented for weddings, bridal and baby showers, graduation parties and reunions. A book club meets there and the community uses it for its annual Fall Fest celebration and for a high tea.
For the last 10 years, the senior luncheon has brought close to 70 seniors together to reminisce about their time in Relay.
"It's hard for me to believe we started this 10 years ago in a blizzard," said Karen Shannon, who organized the luncheon. "It was in February and I thought, 'I need to cancel. They're never going to show up.' They all did."
Born and raised in Relay, Shannon started the luncheons with her father to bring old friends together.
"A lot of these people I have known my whole life," Shannon said. "My family has lived here since 1949. I live in the house where I was born and raised."
There were 130 invitations sent out for this year's luncheon and Buggy Breeden said he made 300 phone calls inviting people to attend.
"We have people from the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland here," Breeden said.
After a blessing given by Del. James Malone, who represents District 12A that includes Arbutus, Catonsville, Relay and part of Howard County, the group enjoyed the lunchtime meal.
The various dishes were donated by the community, Shannon said.
Bill Hedeman died nearly five years ago. Betsy Hedeman decided to present her gift at the luncheon and to share memories of the past.
She brought photos of her husband, including his first-grade class photo, where he stood in a sailor suit on Relay Elementary's steps with his class.
"I have lots of history with me," she said as she smiled.
Married 53 years, Betsy knew how important Relay was to her husband.
"I married a Relay person," Betsy said. "Bill was a huge success in life. In his heart was always Relay."