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John F. Haggerty, 82, who was instrumental in creating the athletic complex at Harford Community College and later served as a trustee there, was named a Harford Living Treasure by the Harford County Council Tuesday.
John F. Haggerty, 82, who was instrumental in creating the athletic complex at Harford Community College and later served as a trustee there, was named a Harford Living Treasure by the Harford County Council Tuesday. (Erika Butler/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun)

John F. Haggerty, a longtime athletic director at Harford Community College who was also active in local politics, was named a Harford Living Treasure Tuesday by the Harford County Council.

“Thank you for all the service you’ve provided to Harford County,” Councilman Chad Shrodes, who has known Haggerty for many years, said.

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As athletic director at Harford Community College, where he was also associate dean of physical education, Haggerty built a small athletic program into one that gained national attention, according to his nomination.

“Their intercollegiate athletic program grew from four men’s teams to 22 men’s and women’s teams competing on a high level during his tenure,” Patrick Haggerty, one of Haggerty’s 15 grandchildren, wrote in the nomination.

Haggerty also proposed the idea of a baseball and softball complex and saw it become a reality with the help of Sen. William Amoss and Harford County Executive Habern Freeman.

“I know a lot of it was your vision and I know it was a lot of work, getting to that point,” Shrodes said. “When I think of your name, that’s what I think of most.”

Haggerty thanked the council for the honor, which was more special because last week he was declared cancer-free.

“I consider myself to be one of the luckiest guys around getting something like this,” Haggerty, diagnosed with brain cancer last year, said.

He completed his final chemo treatment last week at University of Maryland and got to ring the bell while nurses clapped.

“It was silly, but it was a nice experience and it made it all the better to be here with you guys today,” Haggerty said.

He called HCC a “wonderful institution” where he spent 52 years, including the last 10 as a trustee, but enjoyed all the things he was involved in Harford County.

A resident of the town of Bel Air, Haggerty formed and chaired the Voters Action Committee when he found out that the town required its residents to own property to be eligible to vote in town elections.

In addition to HCC and the Voters Action Committee, Haggerty was also involved in the Bel Air zoning appeals board, Harford Department of Parks and Recreation, Maryland Real Estate Commission, New Harford Democratic Club as president, Governor’s Physical Fitness Commission, the American Red Cross, Harford Haven Group Homes and Maryland JUCO Athletic Conference.

He and his wife, Joan, moved to Bel Air in May 1966; they have five children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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