The Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame last week announced its 2014 inductees. The newest inductees will be Stephen Decatur, Virginia Knauer, Pat Worthington Stopper, Chris Matthews and the Jewish Community Center Klein Branch. The announcement was made during a May 8 news conference at Holy Family University by Sister Francesca Onley, president of Holy Family, and City Councilman Dennis O’Brien.
The inductees were chosen by a nine-member selection committee, chaired by Sister Francesca. The public participated by suggesting candidates for consideration. The induction ceremony will be on Oct. 19 at Holy Family.
Here is more information on the inductees:
• Stephen Decatur (1779-1820) was raised in Frankford and briefly attended the Lower Dublin Academy in Upper Holmesburg. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1798. He commanded a ship in 1803, taking to the Mediterranean for service in the first of the Barbary Wars — America’s wars against North African pirate states — where his leadership and actions were acclaimed. He also distinguished himself in the War of 1812. In 1815, he returned to the Mediterranean for the second Barbary War, where he secured a treaty with the Barbary States.
• Virginia Knauer (1915-2011) and her husband Wilhelm in 1948 bought and restored a historic home along the Delaware River in Torresdale. They later founded the Knauer Foundation for Historic Preservation. Virginia Knauer became the first woman to serve on City Council. In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed her Special Assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs. She later became director of the federal Office of Consumer Affairs, a position she held under Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
• Pat Worthington Stopper, born in 1928, comes from a family whose roots in the Northeast go back more than 300 years. She has spent many years collecting, preserving and sharing local history. A longtime resident of Bustleton, she has researched and written about the neighborhoods of Bustleton, Somerton and Byberry, and has given presentations to schools, libraries and historical groups. In the early 1990s, she was a founding member of the Northeast Philadelphia History Project and worked with fellow historians on two books on the history of the Northeast. She also published two pictorials on Bustleton, Somerton and Byberry. She has also been active in researching and preserving the history of her church, Pennepack Baptist. In 2013, she donated her historical collections to the Friends of Northeast Philadelphia.
• Chris Matthews was raised in Somerton. He served in the Peace Corps in Africa from 1968-70. He ran for Congress in 1974 in the Democratic primary, but was crushed by Rep. Josh Eilberg. He served six years as chief of staff for U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill. He spent 15 years as a journalist for the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. He is best known as a political commentator and news host for NBC and MSNBC. He hosted the Chris Matthews Show from 2002-12 and has been host of Hardball with Chris Matthews since 1997. He has written several books, including the bestseller Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. His most recent book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked, is about the working relationship between Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill.
• The Jewish Community Center Klein Branch, at 10100 Jamison Ave., has been serving the people of the Northeast for almost 40 years. Founded in 1975 and endowed by businessman and philanthropist Raymond Klein and his wife Miriam, the branch offers a variety of social, educational and cultural services and programs for all ages. Activities include health and wellness, after-school programs, summer day camp, sports classes and leagues, and adult education classes and programs. Social service programs are available for immigrants at risk, low-income families, senior citizens and the hungry. The branch provides more than 45,000 home-delivered meals to seniors each year.
The Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame is sponsored by Glen Foerd on the Delaware in partnership with Holy Family, the Historical Society of Frankford, the Northeast Times and Councilman O’Brien. Jack McCarthy is the project director. ••