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It was with great sadness that I learned of Mr. Alden Halsey’s death.

There were two periods of my life when his work in Harford County Public Schools affected me personally. The first was in the fall of 1962. At the supper table after my first day of second grade at Highland Elementary School, my parents asked me nonchalantly if I had noticed anything different.

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What I had noticed was how pretty my teacher was, but I wasn’t going to tell them that, so I said that there wasn’t anything different. Then they asked me if there were any “colored” (that was the preferred term in those days) children in the class. I brightened and said that yes, there was one girl. That was that.

Harford County Public Schools were on their way to becoming fully integrated, not only peacefully, but in a neighborly way. The integration plan was developed by Alden Halsey, then 31, at a time when some in the senior leadership of the school system and many in the county’s populace were frankly racist. Mr. Halsey, junior in the leadership ranks, accomplished an exemplary integration through his quiet and competent commitment to justice.

Through the ensuing decades, as a citizen and community leader I had occasion to know Mr. Halsey who had become Deputy Superintendent of Schools, but it was during my council presidency that we actually worked together.

When Dr. Roberty retired — a superintendent who nurtured multiple tiers of qualified leaders — many of us thought Mr. Halsey the perfect successor. The Board of Education wanted an outside candidate and hired Dr. Ray Keech. Dr. Keech immediately showed his worth by asking his rival, Alden Halsey, to continue as Deputy Superintendent. What the two men — very different in temperament — thought and felt about each other was invisible to me. They left their egos at home and worked together for the good of the young people entrusted to their care.

The light of Alden Halsey not only continues to shine in all of us who knew him, but also anonymously in the school system to which he dedicated so much of his life. Above all humane and fair, he was, simply, one of the finest people I have ever had the privilege to know.

May he rest in peace and light perpetual shine upon him!

JEFFREY DIRK WILSON

Street

The writer was president of the Harford County Council from 1990 to 1994.

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