The Havre de Grace mayor and City Council president paid tribute this week to a former council member and the council’s first Black president, Wardell V. Stansbury.
Stansbury died June 22; he was 85 years old.
Mayor William T. Martin called for a moment of silence in honor of Stansbury, whom he called “a very distinguished Havre de Grace citizen,” at the start of Monday’s council meeting. The mayor later said he had ordered city flags to be lowered to half staff “to honor his life and service to the citizens.”
“From the people that know Mr. Stansbury, he was a good man and as my chief of staff told me, ‘He walked the walk,’” said Martin, who noted he met Stansbury a few times since being elected to the City Council in 2008.
“What he said is what he did, so a man like that needs to be honored,” the mayor added.
Stansbury was born and raised in Havre de Grace, the youngest of seven children and the son of Mary V. Stansbury and Clayton C. Stansbury Sr. He attended the segregated Havre de Grace Colored High School, setting county records as a member of the track team, and graduated in 1953, according to his obituary. Stansbury was part of the last class to graduate from the Colored High School — Black students in the Aberdeen and Havre de Grace areas then attended Havre de Grace Consolidated School in the Oakington area until Harford County Public Schools were desegregated in 1965.
Current Council President David Glenn, a 1975 graduate of Havre de Grace High School and a distance runner for the Warriors, recalled often hearing about the records Stansbury set as a sprinter. Stansbury was inducted into the HHS Hall of Fame in 2015.
Stansbury went on to Morgan State University on Baltimore; he was a member of his college’s ROTC unit and became a second lieutenant in the Army after earning his bachelor’s degree. He earned a master’s degree while stationed with the Army in Texas — he also ran track while in college and in the military, according to his obituary.
He returned to Havre de Grace after being honorably discharged from the Army. Stansbury was the first African American hired to work for the Harford County Department of Social Services, and he spent 36 years with the agency.
He served on the Havre de Grace City Council from 1971 to 1979 and was the first Black member to serve as council president. Glenn expressed his “thoughts and prayers” to Stansbury’s family following his passing.
“He served by example, and we were the true benefactors of his tireless dedication and selfless service to this city,” Glenn said.
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“I want to personally thank his family for allowing him to serve, because we’ve truly benefited from that,” Glenn added, noting that “his candle burned out long before his memory ever will.”