The Laurel Historical Society will hold the first McCeney March on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 9 a.m. outside the Laurel Museum on Main Street.
The march, consisting of a 3-mile walk through historic Laurel, is part of an effort to honor the late Jim McCeney, a Laurel resident and former chairman and president of the Laurel Historical Society who died in March.
"We wanted to do something to commemorate his memory ... the idea of a walk just seemed appropriate," said Karen Lubieniecki, chair of the historical society's executive committee and McCeney's walking partner of 10 years. Lubieniecki said McCeney's daily routine consisted of a 3-mile walk Monday through Friday to different places, such as Laurel Lake and the racetrack.
The McCeney March will start at the museum and will allow walkers to pass by and observe various sites throughout historic Laurel, including the site of the Laurel Mill, Ivy Hill Cemetery, the old Laurel High School and other historic buildings and homes, before ending the walk back at the museum. Event proceeds will go to the Laurel Historical Society to help fund its exhibits, public programs and other activities. Part of the money collected will also be used to fund a scholarship of $500 in McCeney's memory for students who are interested in studying history.
"I think it's a great way to remember my father who loved his walks through Laurel, his morning walks," McCeney's daughter, Marjorie McCeney, said.
McCeney said her father's enthusiasm for Laurel and interest in historic preservation are the two things that define the contributions he made to his childhood hometown.
McCeney grew up in Laurel, the son of Dr. Robert McCeney and Lelia Brennan McCeney. He moved to the Washington suburb of Kensington where he and his wife, Bobbi, raised Marjorie and her brother, George. McCeney worked as a CPA for the Organization of American States, an international group composed for establishing cooperation and alliances among different countries throughout the Americas. Following his retirement, he and his wife moved back to Laurel in the fall of 2002, settling in McCeney's childhood home, a 19th-century frame house at the corner of Main and Fourth streets. Jim and Bobbi McCeney undertook a massive renovation project on the house.
A lifetime member of the Laurel Historical Society, McCeney served as the group's treasurer, president and chairman. He died at the age of 74 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease he was diagnosed with two year prior in which lung tissue becomes stiff and scarred, thereby disrupting a person's ability to breathe.
The historical society plans to hold the walk each year in remembrance of the contributions McCeney made to the group and the community.
"Jim was the kind of person you just wanted to have as a friend because he would always be there for you," said Lubieniecki, who called McCeney a "wealth of information" when it came to Laurel. "The same level that he offered in friendship, he offered to the Laurel Historical Society. ...If you needed something done, Jim would do it."