Local elite

The new­est class is in­duc­ted in­to the North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame. 

  • Headed to the Hall: Bill Boggs is one of four individuals and a volunteer group that were inducted into the Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame on Sunday. Boggs, a television host, producer, journalist and author raised in the Tacony/Mayfair area, was the only living inductee. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

  • The inductees: Friends of Pennypack Park, formed in 1987, is an all-volunteer organization that sponsors park cleanups and trail restorations and monitors water quality in Pennypack Creek. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

  • Edward Duffield was an engraver and clock and compass maker in colonial Philadelphia. One of his compasses is shown above. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

Four in­di­vidu­als and a vo­lun­teer group were in­duc­ted in­to the North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame dur­ing a Sunday af­ter­noon ce­re­mony at Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity.

The in­duct­ees were Ed­ward Duf­field, Al Schmid, Robert N.C. Nix Sr., Bill Boggs and Friends of Pennypack Park.

Among those ad­dress­ing the crowd were former Holy Fam­ily Pres­id­ent Sis­ter Francesca On­ley, City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on and state Rep. Mike Driscoll.

Jack Mc­Carthy, pro­ject dir­ect­or for the Hall of Fame, showed videos of the in­duct­ees from the four pre­vi­ous ce­re­mon­ies and a present­a­tion on loc­al his­tory.

Fath­er Judge High School seni­or Adam Nork was re­cog­nized as the win­ner of a stu­dent cre­at­ive writ­ing con­test. He won a $2,000 schol­ar­ship to Holy Fam­ily, a Din­ing Car gift card and an iPad, donated by Joe Ash­dale, busi­ness man­ager of Dis­trict Coun­cil 21, the In­ter­na­tion­al Uni­on of Paint­ers and Al­lied Trades. Sean Kelly, Nork’s teach­er, also re­ceived a Din­ing Car gift card.

The Hall of Fame is sponsored by Glen Fo­erd on the Delaware in part­ner­ship with Holy Fam­ily, the His­tor­ic­al So­ci­ety of Frank­ford, the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce, Al­le­gra Mar­ket­ing/Print/Mail and the North­east Times.

Here is some back­ground on the in­duct­ees:

• Ed­ward Duf­field (1730-1803) was a well-known en­graver and clock and com­pass maker in co­lo­ni­al Phil­adelphia, as well as an act­ive pat­ri­ot dur­ing the Re­volu­tion­ary War and an im­port­ant civic lead­er in the North­east. He was raised at “Ben­field,” his fam­ily’s es­tate in the area that is now Mor­rell Park. The Duf­field fam­ily home stood about where Christ the King Cath­ol­ic Church is now loc­ated. By age 21, he had a shop at 2nd and Arch streets, where he did en­grav­ing and made and sold watches, clocks and com­passes. The large double-faced clock that hung out­side his shop may have been the first pub­lic clock in Amer­ica. In the 1760s and 1770s, he was re­spons­ible for main­tain­ing the clock in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now In­de­pend­ence Hall. The His­tor­ic­al So­ci­ety of Frank­ford has one of his rare com­plete sur­viv­ing com­passes. In late June 1776, Ben­jamin Frank­lin was stay­ing at Ben­field, re­cov­er­ing from an ill­ness. Frank­lin had been ap­poin­ted to the “Com­mit­tee of Five,” a group in­clud­ing Thomas Jef­fer­son and John Adams that was charged with draft­ing the De­clar­a­tion of In­de­pend­ence. It is prob­able that when the Com­mit­tee met in late June 1776 to dis­cuss the fi­nal form of the De­clar­a­tion, the meet­ing was at Ben­field. In the late 18th cen­tury, he helped to es­tab­lish two loc­al schools, the Lower Dub­lin Academy and the By­berry and Mo­re­land School, and was in­stru­ment­al in the form­a­tion of All Saints Epis­copal Church in Tor­res­dale. He is bur­ied in the cemetery of All Saints Church.

Fred Moore, pres­id­ent of the Trust­ees of Lower Dub­lin Academy, ac­cep­ted for Duf­field, whose an­cest­ors were not in­ter­ested in the hon­or.

• Robert Nel­son Cor­neli­us Nix Sr. (1898-1987) at­ten­ded Lin­coln Uni­versity and the Uni­versity of Pennsylvania School of Law, re­ceiv­ing his law de­gree in 1924. In the mid-1950s, Nix was among the first res­id­ents of Green­belt Knoll near Holme Circle. In 1958, he was elec­ted to the U.S. House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives for the 2nd Dis­trict, the first black per­son to rep­res­ent Pennsylvania in the U.S. House. He was re-elec­ted 10 times, serving 20 years be­fore los­ing in the primary in 1978. He lived at Green­belt Knoll un­til his death. The Robert N.C. Nix Sr. Fed­er­al Build­ing in Phil­adelphia is named in his hon­or. His son, Robert N. C. Nix Jr., was elec­ted to the Pennsylvania Su­preme Court in 1971, and served as chief justice from 1984-1996.

The award was ac­cep­ted by his grand­son, Robert N.C. Nix III. He was joined by two of his broth­ers and his son, Rob.

• Al­bert An­drew Schmid (1920-1982) was a World War II hero whose val­or in the South Pa­cific in 1942 earned him great hon­or and fame. He was raised in Burholme. He worked on farms and at odd jobs be­fore tak­ing a job in 1940 at the Dodge Steel Com­pany in Ta­cony. On Dec. 7, 1941, he heard on the ra­dio about the Ja­pan­ese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor. Two days later, he en­lis­ted in the Mar­ines. After train­ing in Car­o­lina, he had a short leave back home, dur­ing which he col­lec­ted a bo­nus from Dodge Steel and used the money to pur­chase an en­gage­ment ring for his girl­friend, Ruth. In the early-morn­ing hours of Aug. 21, 1942, he was man­ning a ma­chine gun nest with fel­low Mar­ines Lee Dia­mond and Johnny Rivers, when hun­dreds of Ja­pan­ese began at­tack­ing their po­s­i­tion. Rivers was killed early in the battle and later a gren­ade landed in the nest, severely wound­ing both Dia­mond and Schmid. Dia­mond, who was phys­ic­ally in­ca­pa­cit­ated, dir­ec­ted Schmid, who had been blinded, where to fire, as wave after wave of Ja­pan­ese at­tacked. When they were fi­nally res­cued hours later, Schmid and Dia­mond had held their po­s­i­tion and hun­dreds of Ja­pan­ese lay dead be­fore them. He was awar­ded the Navy Cross and was giv­en a hero’s parade by the Phil­adelphia In­quirer. The book Al Schmid Mar­ine was pub­lished in 1944, and in 1945 Warner Broth­ers re­leased the movie Pride of the Mar­ines, with Hol­ly­wood star John Gar­field por­tray­ing Schmid. Schmid, Ruth and their son lived on Fill­more Street in Frank­ford be­fore mov­ing to Flor­ida. He is bur­ied at Ar­ling­ton Na­tion­al Cemetery.

Al Schmid Jr., who lives in Ten­ness­ee, ex­pressed his grat­it­ude in a video.

Ac­cept­ing for Schmid was James McNesby, a former Mar­ine and dir­ect­or of pub­lic safety and se­cur­ity at Gwynedd Mercy Uni­versity.

“He was de­serving of a Medal of Hon­or,” McNesby said.

• Bill Boggs is a tele­vi­sion host, pro­du­cer, journ­al­ist and au­thor. Raised in the Ta­cony/May­fair area, he gradu­ated from Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School in Janu­ary 1959 and went on to study at the Uni­versity of Pennsylvania, re­ceiv­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree from Penn’s Annen­berg School for Com­mu­nic­a­tion. He worked as as­sist­ant dean at Penn be­fore be­gin­ning a long ca­reer in tele­vi­sion. His first TV job was in 1968, work­ing the Tele­PrompT­er for le­gendary Phil­adelphia news­caster John Fa­cenda at Chan­nel 10. Later, he was as­so­ci­ate pro­du­cer and oc­ca­sion­al on-air per­son­al­ity at Chan­nel 3. After host­ing a re­gion­al TV show in North Car­o­lina in the early 1970s, he moved to New York City, where he hos­ted Mid­day Live on WNEW from 1976 to 1986 and served as news an­chor for Week­end Today on WN­BC. He went on to host and pro­duce talk shows, game shows, com­edy, food, travel and sports pro­grams. A four-time Emmy win­ner, he was ex­ec­ut­ive pro­du­cer of the Mor­ton Downey Jr. Show, as well as found­ing ex­ec­ut­ive pro­du­cer of Court TV and Com­edy To­night. He ap­peared for a dec­ade on Bill Boggs Corner Table on the Food Net­work. In 2003, he de­b­uted a solo off-Broad­way stage show called Talk Show Con­fid­en­tial, which in­cluded stor­ies and video clips from his years as a tele­vi­sion talk show host. That show, and his nov­el At First Sight, were op­tioned for a movie in­spired by his life. He was celebrity cor­res­pond­ent for the syn­dic­ated PBS tele­vi­sion show My Gen­er­a­tion, which fea­tured in­ter­views in­spired by his 2007 book, Got What it Takes? Suc­cess­ful People Re­veal How They Made It to the Top. He is sought after as a mo­tiv­a­tion­al speak­er and has an­oth­er book com­ing out in 2017. He has ap­peared in over a dozen movies, is an of­ficer of the Fri­ars Club of New York and a mem­ber of the board of dir­ect­ors of the Phil­adelphia Mu­sic Hall of Fame. In 2000, he was honored as a “Fath­er of the Year” by the Na­tion­al Fath­er’s Day Com­mit­tee.

Boggs was joined by his son, Tre­vor, who lives in his boy­hood home on Walk­er Street. He said he was grate­ful for and humbled by the award. He de­scribed the North­east as a place where blue-col­lar, middle-class people work hard. He’s al­ways main­tained a good work eth­ic.

“That comes from North­east Phil­adelphia,” he said.

Boggs said he re­mem­bers he and his fifth-grade class­mates giv­ing three- to five-minute pub­lic speak­ing re­marks, something that he said helped him in his ca­reer.

“I learned that at Dis­ston Ele­ment­ary School,” he said.

At Lin­coln, he was on the foot­ball and track and field teams and was pres­id­ent of the stu­dent as­so­ci­ation. He wore his class ring and ac­cep­ted his award on be­half of the school and his class­mates.

“Lin­coln High School offered me the op­por­tun­ity to be suc­cess­ful,” he said.

• Friends of Pennypack Park has worked to main­tain and pre­serve Pennypack Park for al­most 30 years. The Park was es­tab­lished in 1905 by the City of Phil­adelphia to en­sure the pro­tec­tion of Pennypack Creek and the pre­ser­va­tion of the sur­round­ing land. The Park con­sists of 1,688 acres of wood­lands, mead­ows, wet­lands and fields, and serves as a re­cre­ation area. Pop­u­lar activ­it­ies in­clude hik­ing on miles of back­woods trails, horse­back rid­ing, bi­cyc­ling on the park’s nine-mile paved bike path, pic­nick­ing and fish­ing in the Pennypack Creek. Friends of Pennypack Park was formed in 1987 by a group of in­di­vidu­als who were con­cerned about the state of the Park and had a vis­ion for an or­gan­iz­a­tion that would be an ad­voc­ate for the land­scape and act­ively work to im­prove its con­di­tion. An all-vo­lun­teer or­gan­iz­a­tion, Friends of Pennypack Park activ­it­ies in­clude con­duct­ing monthly nature and his­tory walks, spon­sor­ing park cleanups and trail res­tor­a­tions, mon­it­or­ing wa­ter qual­ity in Pennypack Creek, and hold­ing meet­ings on mat­ters con­cern­ing the Park. The Friends have also re­paired and re­placed pic­nic tables and benches, placed ad­di­tion­al trash cans throughout the Park, erec­ted gates at trail en­trances to keep out un­au­thor­ized mo­tor vehicles, and in­stalled in­form­a­tion­al signs at park en­trances.

Linde Lauff, pres­id­ent of Friends of Pennypack Park, de­scribed the park as an “oas­is.”

“It is the gem of the North­east,” she said. ••

What Makes North­east Phil­adelphia Spe­cial?

By Adam Nork

Fath­er Judge High School Seni­or

Dis­tin­guished on the map by a great land­mark,

North­east Phil­adelphia is home to Pennypack Park.

A place where chil­dren learn and grow,

On them, our hope, we do be­stow.

Flow­ing in a stream of po­ten­tial,

Our young men and wo­men are wise and pruden­tial.

With an open mind, flows their in­spir­a­tion

To be­come suc­cess­ful and im­prove the na­tion.

Loc­ated in a city where broth­erly love is known,

To every­one that nick­name is shown.

Our fam­il­ies stay to­geth­er,

For it’s the idea of unity we treas­ure.

The bond between our neigh­bors is strong,

For re­la­tion­ships are pros­per­ous and long.

De­veloped from our in­cred­ible work eth­ic,

North­east Phil­adelphia is truly epic.

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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