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Six set for induction Friday into Havre de Grace H.S. Hall of Fame

Following a tradition started last year, five distinguished graduates of Havre de Grace High School and a late graduate of the former Havre de Grace Colored High School will be inducted into the Havre de Grace High School Hall of Fame Friday.

The induction ceremony, which is open to the public, starts at 10 a.m. in the high school auditorium, with juniors and seniors at the school present, according to Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Rick Hauf. The HHS Hall of Fame's Class of 2011 will also be honored at Friday night's homecoming football game.

"We hope to plan a seed in the minds of our students of what happens when they leave this building," Hauf said of the two-year-old hall of fame. "We hope it allows them to dream big."

This year they are inducting six alumni, of both Havre de Grace High School and Havre de Grace Colored High School, something that Hauf said is different from typical Hall of Fame inductions. Including graduates of the colored high school, however, allows them to include notable Havre de Grace alumni, as well as "bond the community together."

Harford County high schools were racially segregated until the 1965-66 school year.

The 2011 HOF inductees are Rose Mary Hatem Bonsack, the late Frederick J. Hatem, Harry S. Johnson, Robert L. Johnson, Madelyn Mitchell Shank and the late George D. Lisby.

Since her 1951 graduation, Bonsack went into the medical field in a career that she maintained for more than 50 years. Those years include everything from a contract physician at the Harford County Health Department to a limited family medicine practice she still runs in Aberdeen. She also represented Harford County for eight years in theMaryland House of Delegates.

Her education at Havre de Grace High School, she said Wednesday, served as a "great foundation" for her career.

"I felt I had wonderful teachers and they inspired me to do whatever I wanted to do and pursue a career I wanted to do," she said.

Bonsack is "very proud" to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, she said, as well as a graduate of Havre de Grace High.

"It's a thrill, really," she said, adding it is "very, very nice."

Another inductee, 1944 graduate Robert Johnson, was overwhelmed with the honor, he said Wednesday.

Johnson, a retired comptroller, financial manager and director of resource management of Aberdeen Proving Ground, can pinpoint one of the most influential moments in his life from being a student at Havre de Grace.

The summer between his sophomore and junior year Johnson worked with a school janitor cleaning classrooms when the school's principal, the late Walter Davis, called him into his office. "Professor Davis," as Johnson called him, was a man to be respected and encouraged Johnson to take a foreign language, French, in case he ever wanted to go to college.

Johnson never planned to go to college, he said, but after serving in World War II and returning to a position at Aberdeen Proving Ground with "well-educated" colleagues, he decided to go to University of Delaware and earned a degree in accounting.

"Did Havre de Grace High School have an impact on me," he asked himself. "It certainly did because Walter Davis made sure it would have an impact on me."

In addition to thanking Mr. Davis, Johnson also made a point to mention his wife of more than 50 years, Alene.

"I owe most all of that to a very great woman who I love dearly, Alene, my wife," he said.

For 1945 graduate Madelyn Shank, Havre de Grace is in her blood. Her father, R. Madison Mitchell, ran a funeral home in the city for 70 years and during those years she was born and raised. Going into the funeral business was "natural" for her, Shank said, and the day after her Tuesday evening high school graduation she worked her first funeral.

Shank went on to be one of the first women in Maryland to receive a funeral director's license in 1950 and she stayed in the position for more than 50 years until her 2000 retirement.

She remained a part of Havre de Grace through all the years, she said, working in many different capacities in the city, including co-chairperson for the Historic Candlelight Tour and serving as a member of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum Board of Directors.

"It's just a good area for volunteerism," she said.

She is looking forward to Friday's ceremony, Shank said Wednesday, adding that she is "very pleased" and considers it "an honor."

Harry Johnson graduated in 1972 and is currently a practicing attorney with Whiteford Taylor Preston, LLP in Baltimore. After his Havre de Grace graduation, John went on to earn degrees from the University of Maryland and the University of Maryland School of Law.

Johnson was unable to be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The late Frederick Hatem graduated in the class of 1943 and, like his sister, Rose Mary Bonsack, went into the field of medicine. Dr. Hatem, who died on June 6 of this year, earned degrees from Georgetown University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine after his Havre de Grace graduation.

Dr. Hatem had a family practice in Aberdeen before becoming a full-time obstetrician, giving him the opportunity to deliver as many as 400 babies in one year and more than 10,000 in his career. He also served four years on the Harford County Council.

The late George Lisby graduated from Havre de Grace Colored High School in 1949, going on to earn a bachelor's degree at Bowie State Teachers College and a master's from North Carolina Central. He returned to teach in Harford County in 1956 and later served on the Harford County Board of Education. George B. Lisby at Hillsdale in Aberdeen is dedicated to his memory.

Picking six inductees out of more than 30 applicants was a difficult task chairperson Hauf said Tuesday, especially as many of them demonstrated the school motto, Enter to Learn; Leave to Serve," and had "exemplarily accomplishments."

Paring down so many applicants to six choices wasn't easy, he said, but they know the tradition to honor Havre de Grace alumni will continue into the future.

"Our school has a long history and the common theme of our history has been service," Hauf said. "We want to recognize and honor that."

Check back with http://www.exploreharford.com to view photos of Friday's Havre de Grace High School Hall of Fame induction festivities.

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