Northeast excellence

Sis­ter Francesca On­ley (left) and Den­nis O’Bri­en (right) hand Mark Shuman the 2012 North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame plaque for his grand­fath­er, Frank Shuman. (Maria Pouch­nikova)


The most touch­ing mo­ment in the 2012 North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame ce­re­mony bor­rowed from a cus­tom that great base­ball play­ers have used for years.

Ball­play­ers ad­mit­ted to the Cooper­stown, N.Y., shrine are en­titled to write the ac­ronym HOF along with their auto­graphs.

Ed Kelly, one of the in­duct­ees in the North­east Hall of Fame on Sunday, nev­er won the big hon­or on the base­ball dia­mond. But that didn’t stop his son, Ted, from sign­ing HOF on a base­ball, in front of the crowd and on be­half of his dad, who died in Au­gust. Then, eyes welling with tears, the young­er Kelly handed the base­ball to his mom, Jane.

That ges­ture was just one of many warm and cel­eb­rat­ory mo­ments on Sunday af­ter­noon at Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity.

In ad­di­tion to Kelly, a gi­ant in the com­munity, the third Hall of Fame in­duc­tion ce­re­mony honored an as­tro­naut, a civil rights pi­on­eer, an in­vent­or and sev­en ven­er­able churches.

The 200 or so guests listened to pro­ject dir­ect­or Jack Mc­Carthy nar­rate slide shows of the build­ings, in­sti­tu­tions and events that make the North­east’s his­tory so rich and of the in­duct­ees of pre­vi­ous years.

“This has been a won­der­ful edu­ca­tion­al ex­per­i­ence,” Holy Fam­ily pres­id­ent Sis­ter Francesca On­ley said at the con­clu­sion of the day’s activ­it­ies.

These people and churches were in­duc­ted:

• Frank Shuman (1862-1918), a Ta­cony res­id­ent who in­ven­ted a sol­ar en­gine and a pro­cess for mak­ing wire-glass. He also worked at the Ta­cony Iron Works, where he helped con­struct the massive Wil­li­am Penn statue that sits atop City Hall.

• The Rev. Le­on Sul­li­van (1922-2001), a Baptist min­is­ter, civil rights lead­er and so­cial act­iv­ist who lived on Long­ford Street in Holmes­burg. He foun­ded the Op­por­tun­it­ies In­dus­tri­al­iz­a­tion Cen­ters of Amer­ica, a job-train­ing and life-skills pro­gram. He was a lead­ing op­pon­ent of apartheid in South Africa, sat on the board of dir­ect­ors of Gen­er­al Mo­tors and re­ceived the Pres­id­en­tial Medal of Free­dom from Pres­id­ent George H.W. Bush.

• Ed Kelly (1926-2012), a World War II vet­er­an, com­munity act­iv­ist and busi­ness lead­er from Rhawn­hurst. He served as ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce from 1973-82 and is cred­ited with se­cur­ing its cur­rent of­fice on Roosevelt Boulevard. He was among a group of people who foun­ded the Pennypack Park Mu­sic Fest­iv­al in 1977. He paid for a band­shell, and the stage is named in his hon­or. He was a long­time mem­ber of the May­or’s Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil.

• Chris Fer­guson, a re­tired U.S. Navy cap­tain and as­tro­naut from the Far North­east who in 2011 com­manded the fi­nal flight of NASA’s space shuttle. He pi­loted the At­lantis shuttle flight in 2006, com­manded the En­deav­our flight in 2008 and com­manded the At­lantis flight last year. A mar­ried fath­er of three and gradu­ate of St. Martha Gram­mar School and Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School, he works for Boe­ing.

• Unity Monthly Meet­ing, Frank­ford; By­berry Monthly Meet­ing of Friends; Pen­nepack Baptist Church; Trin­ity Church Ox­ford; Pres­by­teri­an Church of Frank­ford; All Saints Epis­copal Church; and Camp­bell Afric­an Meth­od­ist Epis­copal Church. All are 200 or more years old.

The Rev. Paul An­dell, the re­tired long­time pas­tor of St. James Luther­an Church in North­wood, re­turned from Min­nesota to ac­cept on be­half of the sev­en churches.

Three gen­er­a­tions of Shuman’s an­cest­ors also at­ten­ded the ce­re­mony.

“In our fam­ily, Frank Shuman was a myth­ic­al fig­ure. He was a big­ger-than-life fig­ure,” said grand­son Mark Shuman.

Howard Sul­li­van, the son of the Rev. Sul­li­van and pres­id­ent of the OIC, said his fath­er, who would have turned 90 last week, met with kings but fought for pau­pers.

“My fath­er was an eco­nom­ic em­power­ment lead­er,” said the young­er Sul­li­van, adding that he be­lieves that job train­ing, not build­ing more pris­ons, will lead to a de­crease in crime.

Fer­guson, who re­tired from NASA last Decem­ber, was joined at the event by his wife, Sandy, and teen­age son Ian, along with his moth­er and step-fath­er. Two older chil­dren at­tend Drexel Uni­versity.

Sev­er­al stu­dents and ad­min­is­trat­ors from Arch­bish­op Ry­an were there to con­grat­u­late the school’s prized alum­nus.

Fer­guson re­called that as he was grow­ing up on Amity Road and play­ing street hockey, he used to pause to look up in the sky as planes took off and landed at the nearby North­east Phil­adelphia Air­port. Later trips to air shows with his dad led him to a ca­reer that en­abled him to com­mand a space shuttle.

The only liv­ing in­duct­ee was humbled by the hon­or.

“I’m very proud and honored to be in­cluded in this great group,” he said.

Ted Kelly, the young­est of Ed Kelly’s sev­en chil­dren, told the crowd the words “com­munity ser­vice” in the dic­tion­ary should be ac­com­pan­ied by a pic­ture of his fath­er.

“He tried to im­prove the every­day lives of what he of­ten called ‘my people in the North­east,’ ” he said.

Kelly said he could pic­ture his fath­er listen­ing to Tommy Dorsey mu­sic, mak­ing bets at a racetrack and at­tend­ing shows at “the big band­shell in the sky.”

The re­cog­ni­tion of the in­duct­ees was only part of the pro­gram.

Fath­er Judge High School seni­or Alex Citer­one was sa­luted as the win­ner of an es­say con­test. He and oth­er high school stu­dents were in­vited to write on the theme, Un­cov­er­ing North­east Philly: What Makes North­east Phil­adelphia Spe­cial?

Kath­leen O’Con­nor, a Holy Fam­ily stu­dent, cre­ated a paint­ing to hon­or the in­duct­ees of the pre­vi­ous ce­re­mony. Some of those in­duct­ees — re­tired Spe­cial People In North­east ex­ec­ut­ives Dav­id and Trina Losinno and re­l­at­ives of the late Ben­jamin Rush and Butch Bal­lard — were rep­res­en­ted on Sunday.

Dur­ing a pre-ce­re­mony cock­tail hour, the crowd was en­ter­tained by the mu­sic of Arts Academy of Ben­jamin Rush stu­dents Ry­an Dougherty, Jake Pa­lan and Cha­s­ity Nadeau and string teach­er Maur­een Brady.

The North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame is sponsored by the May­fair Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity, the North­east Times, City Coun­cil­man Den­nis O’Bri­en and the His­tor­ic­al So­ci­ety of Frank­ford. ••


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