Mount Airy's Hall of Fame observing 15th anniversary

Luke J. Kissell
Luke J. Kissell (Submitted photo, Carroll County Times)

The Mount Airy Hall of Fame is marking its 15th anniversary.

The Historical Society of Mount Airy recently announced that its Hall of Fame inductees for 2014 are E. Michael "Mike" Eacho, Janice Wagner Jewell, Luke J. Kissell, James C. Stargel and Richard J. "Dick" Swanson.

The 2014 class will be officially inducted at the Historical Society of Mount Airy's Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner March 18 at American Legion Gold Star Post 191, 801 Prospect Road, Mount Airy.

The social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the induction ceremony.

Tickets, for sale through March 6, are $22 per person. They may be purchased from Ellie Bonde at the Blossom & Basket Boutique, 3 N. Main St., Mount Airy, and at Mount Airy Town Hall, 110 S. Main St.

For more information, call Mount Airy Town Hall at 301-829-1424 or 410-795-6012.

E. Michael "Mike" Eacho


Born March 4, 1953

E. Michael "Mike" Eacho was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Rockville. He served in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve for 23 years, including duty aboard a destroyer, a submarine and in a naval communications unit. He moved with three of his sons and two daughters to Mount Airy in 1989.

Eacho helped coach a baseball team in the Mount Airy Youth Athletic Association and restored the old football scoreboard. He is a member of St. Michael Catholic Church, and served on the parish council for three years, including one year as the council secretary. He also taught religious education classes.

Eacho helped start the Historical Society of Mount Airy in 1997 and has served as secretary, vice president and, now, president. He and his brothers helped with the rebuilding of the Mount Airy Museum. He has also helped to maintain the historical society's collection of town artifacts and has written the society's newsletter for seven years. He has helped with the design, writing and purchase of signs that will describe the history of all the buildings in historical downtown Mount Airy.

He is married to Pat Eacho. They are the parents of 11 children and have 25 grandchildren.

Janice Wagner Jewell


Born March 9, 1934

Janice Wagner Jewell was born and raised in small-town Mount Airy. She has fond memories to share of life in town in the late 1930s and '40s. She was active in Girl Scouts, and she played softball and basketball and ran track at Mount Airy High School. Samuel "Sam" Jewell swept her off to a 27-year adventure of travel and raising a family in the Air Force. They returned in 1977 to her hometown.

To help her transition into civilian life, she joined American Legion Auxiliary Unit 191, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10076 Auxiliary and the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary. She got involved in many community programs with all three organizations.

She was chaplain for the VFW auxiliary for nine years and assisted with its involvement in Mount Airy Fall Festival activities.

She enjoys helping with the electronics-recycling program at the American Legion, keeping thousands of pounds of junk out of the local landfills. She served 12 years as the American Legion auxiliary president.

She has supported the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary preparing and serving banquets and annual carnival dinners. At the American Legion, she is most comfortable preparing and serving food for weekly bingo, local organizations' banquets and weddings. These meals earn money to support American Legion programs that support local and state veterans programs and school and community programs.

When she is not serving, she enjoys gardening and loves being with her family: six married children, 14 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren (with two more on the way), and her brothers and their families. She is thankful for her good neighbors and friends in her beloved Mount Airy, which is not so "small town" anymore.

She joins her father, William E. Wagner Sr., brothers William E. Wagner Jr. and Thomas W. Wagner, and niece Wendi Wagner Peters as a member of the Mount Airy Hall of Fame.

Luke J. Kissell

Born April 25, 1963

Luke J. Kissell was born on a farmette in Gamber. He attended Westminster High School, graduating in 1981. From there he spent two years and received a diploma from Nashville Auto and Diesel College in Nashville, Tenn.

In his early teens, Kissell started in the Japanese martial art of Shotokan karate and later earned a black belt in the Korean art of Tae Kwon Do. In the mid-1980s, he met the man who would change his life direction: Grandmaster JiMong Choe. Choe was not only an expert in Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do, but also a world-famous Oriental medical doctor. Kissell has continually trained under Choe to this day.

In August 1991, Kissell opened his martial arts business in Mount Airy because of the "quality of character" of the people who lived here. His business has changed locations, as buildings were being re-purposed. At one point a friend suggested that Kissell move his business to a nearby town. Kissell responded, "No, I chose Mount Airy and my students are here so I'm not leaving." Eventually, a new location was obtained.

Through the years, Kissell has stressed to his students the importance of community service and "giving back." He has volunteered at Boy Scout and Girl Scout functions in Mount Airy, Career Days at New Market Elementary School, the Mom's Club, and various health and fitness seminars at local schools and organizations. Kissell has organized food and clothing drives to help charities. He has raised money for Mount Airy Net and local victims of the 9/11 attacks on this nation. He has volunteered for high school seniors' graduation projects and given "anti-bullying" seminars for the Mount Airy community.

James Cary Stargel


Born March 30, 1959

James Cary Stargel has been a Mount Airy resident for 25 years. He was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Upper Montgomery County before moving to Mount Airy. He graduated from Wheaton High School in 1976. He attended Montgomery County Community College and Bowie State University, where he earned degrees in criminology and computer science.

Stargel presently works for the Federal Aviation Administration as a computer scientist building next-generation air traffic control systems for the U.S. Government.

After serving the U.S. Army for 21 years, he retired as a sergeant major in the Military Police. He received many decorations for his service, including the Meritorious Service Medal, twice; the Humanitarian Service Medal; the Army Commendation Medal, several times, and the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

As a practitioner of the martial arts, Stargel has been practicing karate for almost 50 years and has been awarded many accolades, including induction into the Karate Hall of Fame as Grandmaster of the Year, Grandmaster Instructor of the Year and Sensei of the Year. He has produced more than 60 black belts under his leadership, traveling the world to learn and teach his art -- most recently to Colombia in South America, where he has gone more than a dozen times to teach. In a recent trip there, the Colombian Minister of Culture awarded him the Gold Medal of Merit for his help in spreading the art in Colombia.

Stargel helps martial arts locally by acting as the chief referee for many local tournaments, both in Mount Airy and in nearby areas on a volunteer basis. He also volunteers to help local schools prepare their students for black-belt exams by offering his knowledge and experience.

Stargel has been a member of the town's Recycling and Sanitation Committee for 10 years, serving as chairman since 2012.

For 2014, has been elected as worshipful master of Prudence Lodge 190, the local Freemason Lodge which has been in Mount Airy since 1894. He has been a member there since 2006. He has volunteered many hours on the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides parents a child identification program that is in the Amber Alert format.

Stargel has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 23 years, and he is a member of American Legion Gold Star Post 191.

In 1980, he married Lisa Macklin and they have raised four children -- three boys and one girl -- and have two grandchildren.

Richard J. "Dick" Swanson

Born May 26, 1944

Richard J. "Dick" Swanson was born in Bridgeport, Conn., and moved to New Jersey at the age of 1. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Finance and Commerce in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He married the same year and entered the Master of Business Administration program at Rutgers Graduate School of Business. With advance standing, he was able to complete his second year taking evening classes while working full time for the Department of Defense.

He received his MBA in 1969 and was drafted into the U.S. Army the same year. He spent two years as the "Radar O'Reilly" of Company 1 at the Fort Monmouth Signal Corp training facility.

In 1971, Swanson returned to the Department of Defense to perform audits and financial reviews of government contractors, universities, nonprofits, and state and local governments. He rose through the ranks and retired in 2005 as a regional audit manager in the Mid-Atlantic Region with responsibility for satellite offices throughout the Mid-Atlantic states.

Swanson married his wife Tina in 1979. In 1980, they were drawn to Mount Airy as a great community to raise a family and enjoy the small-town atmosphere. They have two grown daughters, and he has two children from his first marriage.

Swanson joined the town's Ethics Commission in 1994 and is currently its chairman. He was an original member of Mayor James Holt's Water Committee that later morphed into the Water and Sewer Commission in 2007. In 2012, he was appointed to the town's Board of Supervisors of Elections. He has served on several committees for the town. Most recently, he works with the Mayor's Historical Plaque Committee.

Swanson is a member of the American Legion and the Mount Airy Main Street Association. He is currently the vice president and market manager for the Mount Airy Farmers' Market. Since joining the association in 2004, he has worked on events such as the Chili Cook-off, A Main Street Christmas and History 101.

He enjoys working with other volunteers and the town staff to make Mount Airy an even greater place to live. He said that one of the nicest benefits of volunteering is making new friends throughout the community.

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