Dayhoff: A tribute to the passing of three great Carroll countians who made a difference

Among the many community leaders lost in 2020 are Marvin Hollinger, 80, August 28, 2020; Jeff Schaffer, 67, August 10, 2020; and Tommy Dent, 69, June 25, 2020.
Among the many community leaders lost in 2020 are Marvin Hollinger, 80, August 28, 2020; Jeff Schaffer, 67, August 10, 2020; and Tommy Dent, 69, June 25, 2020. (Photocollage with submitted photos by Kevin Dayhoff)

The year 2020 is not over yet but many will credit the year as the worst days of our lives. Everyone we know has been touched by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. To pour salt in the wound, the year has been full of stuff you simply cannot make up.

An article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, by the Australian columnist Brigid Delaney said it best, July 3. The year 2020 has been “full of completely novel, whack experiences: toilet paper panic buying, social distancing, lockdowns, hotel quarantines, washing and sanitizing your groceries, elbow-bump greetings, takeaway cocktails and Zoom funerals … The year started with large parts of Australia destroyed by megafires…”


Let’s add for good measure, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, a locust plague of biblical proportions in Africa and a brawl caught on film in Thailand involving thousands of monkeys fighting over food — “it seemed a portent of something larger. Our imaginations fevered by a strange, long and discombobulating March, it was tempting to see the monkeys as sinister symbols of a society descended into chaos and madness…,” wrote Delaney. And just think we have the winter months coming soon.

In Carroll County the march of time has also not been kind for a number of distinguished Carroll countians. All of us have lost loved ones, family members, and friends this year. Hold their memories in your hearts and never let go.


Fortunately, we have many bright young leaders steadily assuming leadership positions in the community. Nevertheless, the loss of folks such as Jeff Schaffer, the EMS and firefighter who rode with the Taneytown and Pleasant Valley fire companies, has been unsettling. Schaffer died of COVID-19 on Aug. 10. He, no doubt, contracted the deadly disease while serving our communities on the front lines of fighting the 2020 coronavirus pandemic

Tommy Dent passed away suddenly on Thursday, June 25 of an apparent heart attack. He was a graduate of the Westminster High School class of 1970. In high school he stood-out as a student leader, a member of the student senate, a great singer, a member of the Key Club, the Varsity Letter Club, and a three-sport athlete. TD — number 32 — was co-captain of the football team, number 30 on the basketball team, and was a record-holder in track and field.

Tommy was a wonderful friend and a great community leader who lived a life of grace. Tommy got it honest. His parents were wonderful and kind people. Tommy was extremely talented. He worked hard at his small business. Westminster is a much better place because of Tommy. He will be greatly missed.

Marvin Hollinger, 80, of Westminster, died Aug. 28 at Dove House, surrounded by his family. He was employed by the Maryland State Police at the Westminster Barracks for 40 years as a police communications operator. Hollinger was a life member of the Westminster Fire Department, a member and current secretary of the Westminster Fire Police, member, and current vice-president of the Maryland Troopers Association.

None of these folks were Hollywood movie stars or over-paid sports celebrities, but they were all a hero for many in our community. Recently much has been said in the media about the role of “heroes” in our lives. Much of the discussion has arguably been unfortunate, meaningless, and unintelligible drivel, not really worthy of our time.

Without police officers, firefighters, EMS providers, emergency dispatchers, nurses and healthcare workers, teachers, men and women in the military, and public works employees; there can be no community. They really are the heroes in our community. More often than not they have to work two jobs to raise a family and make ends meet in order to serve our community. Politicians do not know they exist and usually the media ignores them unless they make a mistake. Throughout the pandemic they have had to get up every day, suit-up and go to work — while the many of the highly paid folks in our community “worked from home.”

Much of the interest in Carroll County history is focused upon certain dates or this or that building or road, but what really makes our county great are its people.

The history of Carroll is really not the story of a place, although many will agree that is indeed a wonderful story. However, Carroll County is a story about people. The people who fell in love with Carroll County and devoted their lives to making Carroll a better place. People who throughout history that made the county great.

We have been blessed by many great folks who have gone before us and remain inextricably interwoven into the fabric of what we are today as a county. As the county grows and day-to-day life in today’s world gets increasingly complicated, the buildings and the roads are still here but the people who made it happen are gone — out of sight and out of mind.

Those we love don’t go away. They walk beside us every day, Unseen, unheard, but always near, Still loved, still missed and very dear.

May the memories of happy times sustain us, the support of family and friends comfort us, and may God’s love embrace us as a community and bring us peace.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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