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Havre de Grace's Ted Hoke celebrated 100th birthday, honored by city council

Ted Hoke, second from left, speaks during a Havre de Grace City Council meeting Monday when he was honored for reaching his 100th birthday this week. Mayor William T. Martin, left, proclaimed April 16, 2019, Hoke's birthday, 'Ted Hoke Day.'
Ted Hoke, second from left, speaks during a Havre de Grace City Council meeting Monday when he was honored for reaching his 100th birthday this week. Mayor William T. Martin, left, proclaimed April 16, 2019, Hoke's birthday, 'Ted Hoke Day.' (David Anderson/The Aegis)

Tevis Leroy Sylvester “Ted” Hoke, a Havre de Grace resident, celebrated his 100th birthday this week, a milestone recognized by city and Harford County leaders.

“You’ve seen one heck of a century,” Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin told Hoke as the latter was being honored during Monday’s City Council meeting.

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Hoke, who was born April 16, 1919, turned 100 on Tuesday. The mayor announced during Monday’s meeting that the next day would be proclaimed “Ted Hoke Day” in Havre de Grace.

Hoke appeared with members of his family and spoke briefly about his memories growing up in Havre de Grace, such as the former Havre de Grace Racetrack, which local residents knew as “The Graw” when it was in business from 1912 to 1950 along Old Bay Lane — the site is currently a Maryland National Guard facility.

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Mary Katherine Smith Jennings, of Fallston, was honored by the Harford County Council Tuesday as an inductee into the county's Century Club for residents who have reached age 100.

Hoke also said he attended school in the city. He started in a one-room schoolhouse in Perryman and later took a train to Havre de Grace to attend the segregated Havre de Grace Colored School. He graduated from high school after completing the 11th grade, according to the mayor’s proclamation.

Havre de Grace Colored School students attended through 11th grade until 1949; they were required to go through 12th grade starting in 1950, according to the website of the Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation, which is working to establish a museum and cultural center in the former school building on Alliance Street.

“I appreciate all that has been done and said here, will be said here tonight,” Hoke said.

Hoke and his wife, Margaret Smith, were married in 1940. They have three children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, according to the proclamation, which the mayor read into the record.

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Hoke worked as a painter at Aberdeen Proving Ground, retiring in 1968. He is a member of Union United Methodist Church in Aberdeen and St. James A.M.E. Church in Havre de Grace — Hoke has spent 30 years singing with the St. James Male Chorus, and he has been a member of the church’s Senior Choir. He has also served on the St. James finance board and as a trustee, according to the proclamation.

His hobbies include gardening and visiting friends at his local barber shop, plus he enjoys eating at McDonald’s.

Steve Gamatoria, 60, who serves as chief of staff for the mayor, recalled spending his childhood visiting Hoke at his home or spending time at the home of Hoke’s mother-in-law, noting he “had some really fun times back then.”

“Ted has always been a perfect gentleman; what you see is what you get,” Gamatoria said.

He lauded Hoke’s contributions to the community through his family, friends and church, “just by the way that he always presented himself and the example that he’s always set.”

Martin gave Hoke a city flag and challenge coin, noting he felt “completely unworthy” to present them to Hoke.

“You, sir, have earned it, and I appreciate you being here and I want to see you again when you turn 105,” the mayor said.

Harford County Councilman Curtis Beulah, whose district includes Havre de Grace, talked during the County Council meeting Tuesday about celebrating Hoke’s 100th birthday at St. James earlier in the day.

Beulah noted Hoke “looks easily 75” rather than 100 years old, and said he has “just a pleasant, beautiful family and we just had a good time.”

The councilman said he plans to present a proclamation to Hoke, which could happen in May.

“Just an outstanding gentleman, family, [he is] full of a lot of wisdom,” Beulah said.

Council president returns

Six weeks after he announced he would undergo treatment for prostate cancer, Havre de Grace City Council President David Glenn returned to the dais Monday evening.

Glenn came to the meeting from a Havre de Grace Little League game, and he said later that his doctor gave him “the green light” to return to the field, where he is a coach.

“First off, I’ve got to say, ‘Wow, it’s great to be back,’” he said, drawing applause from his colleagues.

Every Havre de Grace leader, including the mayor, city council members and department heads, wore a light blue shirt bearing the slogan “We got this” during the regular council meeting Monday evening as a tribute to Council President David Glenn’s battle with cancer.

Glenn announced March 4 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would need surgery. All city leaders wore T-shirts bearing the slogan “We got this” at the next meeting March 18 to show their support to Glenn on the day of his operation.

He pulled through, and Glenn said he threw out the first pitch for the Little League opening day April 13. Glenn said the support he received while going through treatment was “humbling and overwhelming,” and he thanked people for their visits, calls, emails, cards “and most importantly, your prayers.”

He thanked his colleagues for “holding the fort” while he was out, especially Councilman David Martin for serving as acting council president.

“We can never predict the future, but I will say there’s still a lot of fight in this Warrior,” the Havre de Grace High School graduate said. “I truly, from the bottom of my heart, want to say, ‘Thank you again for all your support’ … Warrior Proud, Grace on Top.”

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