West Chester to debut its Walk of Fame

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Seven honorees will be celebrated Sunday with memorial plaques

Thomas U. Walter, the renowned architect who designed the historic courthouse in West Chester, is one of the inaugural honorees for the West Chester Walk of Fame.

Thomas U. Walter, the renowned architect who designed the historic courthouse in West Chester, is one of the inaugural honorees for the West Chester Walk of Fame.

From artist N.C. Wyeth to architect Thomas U. Walter, West Chester will inaugurate its Walk of Fame on Sunday, Oct. 27, with the unveiling of seven plaques at a 2 p.m. ceremony at Borough Hall.

Launched in June 2012, the Citizen Recognition Project was started by a group of area residents determined to create a legacy of the contributions made by notable citizens who lived in and around West Chester. Led by Jim McErlane as chairman and Jeff Brown as president, the group formed committees to research, nominate, and select the first seven candidates to receive a West Chester Walk of Fame plaque. Not until a list of 94 worthy candidates was developed did the group realize the enormity of the task before them, a borough news release said.

In a process infused with difficult decisions, the list of potential nominees was narrowed by the selection committee, at first to 38 and then to 20. Students in the eighth grade at St. Agnes as well as middle-school students from the West Chester Area School District did extensive research on the background of the 20 semi-finalists. The biographies were used by the committee to determine the seven individuals to be honored with inaugural West Chester Walk of Fame plaques, the release said.

All of the plaques will be on display at the Borough Hall ceremony, with permanent installation at various area locations to follow in the weeks or months ahead.

The committee prepared the following list and brief biography for each of the honorees:

Thomas Ustick Walter, 1804 – 1887: Nationally renowned architect who designed the U.S. Capitol Dome, the Historic County Courthouse, and Horticulture Hall in West Chester. Plaque will be presented by Rob Lukens of the Chester County Historical Society.

N.C. Wyeth, 1882 – 1945: A founder of the Chester County Art Association, his illustrations of Scribner’s “Treasure Island” secured his fame nationally as an illustrator. Plaque will be presented by Darcy Goldberg of the Chester County Art Association.

Elinor Zimmerman Taylor, 1921 – 2010: State Representative 156th District, first female W.C. Borough Council member, advocate for women’s rights, the elderly, child care, and education. Plaque will be presented by State Sen. Andy Dinniman.

Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, 1924 – present: Founder of DeBaptiste Funeral Home, Mayor of West Chester (1994-2002), widely known for his business acumen, civic and religious leadership and philanthropy. Plaque will be presented by West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta.

Phillip Jamison, 1925 – present: Considered one of America’s premier watercolor artists and has been featured in many major national museums. Plaque will be presented by Ann Christie of the Chester County Art Association.

Dr. Charles Swope, 1930 – 2003: “Mr. West Chester,” president of the First National Bank, Marine veteran, community and civic leader, West Chester University Board President. Plaque will be presented by Jim McErlane.

Addy Kelly, 1936 – 2005: Co-Founder of Kelly’s Sports, the Little All American Football Association and West Chester Area Sports Association, business leader, and generous community figure. Plaque will be presented by Ann Duke.

The West Chester Walk of Fame Fund was established completely through voluntary contributions and is managed under the Chester County Community Foundation. No public money was used for the project, the release said.

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