Havre de Grace will get nationwide television exposure Sunday when famed singer Johnny Mathis says it's where he got addiction treatment that saved his life.
A "CBS Sunday Morning" interview with Mathis, 81, is scheduled to air Sunday, according to a news release from the network.
He and interviewer Nancy Giles discuss a range of topics, from a musical career that began in the 1950s, his current collaboration with producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, dealing with racism and even a threat on his life during his early days of touring. He will also talk about how he has overcome various personal challenges, including recovering from alcohol abuse.
Mathis says he went to Havre de Grace, which is the location of Father Martin's Ashley recovery center, on the advice of former First Lady Nancy Reagan — Mrs. Reagan died in 2016.
"We were sitting around, you know," Mathis recalls in the interview. "I was drinking, and she suggested I might have a problem."
Mathis says Mrs. Reagan "sent me to a place called Havre de Grace in Maryland, and I was there with a bunch of Jesuit priests."
"I had three weeks of finding out why I drank, how I could stop," he continues. "And it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my life."
Amy Farrell, a spokesperson for the singer, confirmed in an email that "Mr. Mathis is referring to his stay at Father Martin's Ashley treatment center in Havre de Grace, MD."
She noted in an email Thursday that Mathis "would not have more to say about it other than" his comments in the CBS interview.
Father Martin's Ashley, now called Ashley Addiction Treatment, has been in Havre de Grace since it was founded in 1983 by the Rev. Joseph C. Martin, a Catholic priest, and his business partner, Mae Ashley Abraham, according to the center's website.
Ashley offers inpatient and outpatient treatment to people struggling with addictions, as well as support for their families, according to its website.
There have been numerous reports quietly circulated in the community in the years since Ashley began of celebrities coming for treatment. None, unless they've been confirmed by those seeking treatment, like Mathis has done, have been made public.
The Rev. Martin died in 2009. He had his own battles with alcoholism and became well known for his "chalk talks" about the disease of addiction, which became staples of military training, first with the Navy and then with other branches of the service, according to his obituary in the New York Times.
Abraham, the priest's partner and close friend, is also a recovering alcoholic. She encouraged Rev. Martin to open a local treatment center, and they spent seven years to raise the money to build the facility on the former estate of the late U.S. Sen. Millard Tydings, according to the obituary. Ashley is in Oakington, a small community off of Route 40 between Aberdeen and Havre de Grace that is in the Havre de Grace ZIP Code.
Rev. Martin welcomed patients by telling them, "the nightmare is over," according to the obituary.