More than 200 people opted to spend a sunny Sunday indoors for what, for many, was an emotional Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
“The average Philadelphian probably doesn’t think of ‘Northeast Philadelphia’ and ‘history’ in the same sentence,” Hall of Fame project director Jack McCarthy said as he took the microphone inside Holy Family University’s Education and Technology Center.
Since 2009, that’s what the Hall of Fame ceremonies have aimed to do – get people thinking about the Northeast’s history and how its major players have impacted not just the region, but the city, and even beyond the country. Some of the 2012 inductees have had a global impact.
Work for Sunday’s ceremony began in March when the Selection Committee began taking nominees for the next class of Northeast Philadelphians to be honored. Four people and seven churches made the final cut, and their impact will live on tangibly in the winning essay and piece of art contributed to the project by two Northeast students.
“The Northeast is indeed special and we should be proud to live in a great neighborhood,” Father Judge senior Alexander Citerone wrote in his winning essay. He won an iPad and a $2,000 scholarship to Holy Family for writing the best “what makes Northeast Philadelphia special” essay. The contest was open to all high schoolers in the Northeast. Citerone shared the spotlight with Holy Family art student Kathleen O’Connor. Her “On the Map” painting” honors the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees – the last class to be honored.
Robert Cornelius, credited with taking the first photograph, lived in Wissinoming.
The first airmail trip – from NYC to DC, stopped in Bustleton.
Philadelphia International Airport was initially planned for the current site of Kraft factory.
Glen Foerd is the last riverfront estate in Philadelphia.
Following a reception featuring a string quartet from the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, guests were treated to a video highlighting other Northeast historical locations of note. McCarthy presented video profiles of each inductee after remarks from Holy Family President Sr. Francesca Onley and Councilman-at-large Denny O’Brien, a Northeast native and Hall of Fame sponsor.
Frank Shuman, 1862-1918 Though best known globally for helping build the world’s first solar power station in Egypt, Shuman shined in the Northeast, as well. He lived and worked in Tacony, and as part of the Tacony Iron Works, he helped build the William Penn statue that still stands atop Philadelphia’s City Hall.
Leon Sullivan, 1922-2001 Sullivan and his family were some of the first residents of Greenbelt Knoll, Philadelphia’s first planned interracial community. He founded the Opportunities Industrialization Centers, now an international organization that provides job and life skills training to those who need it most.
Ed Kelly, 1926-2012 Kelly grew up and raised his family in Rhawnhurst, and after serving in World War II, turned his attention back to the Northeast. He was an executive director of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and founded the popular Pennypack Park summer concert series.
Chris Ferguson The Far Northeast native joked about being grateful to be able to celebrate his induction on his own behalf. He went from watching planes at the Northeast airport as a kid to engineering school in Drexel, then onto the Navy and a career in space with NASA.
Houses of worship 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 AME Church have the honor of sharing an induction accepted by Rev. Paul Andell of the Historical Society of Frankford. All at least 200 years old, the churches were recognized for carrying Northeast Philadelphians through many important events throughout the nation’s history.
For all the focus on history, the common bond of the Northeast united everyone on the auditorium, especially as Kelly’s youngest son, Ted, accepted his father’s induction.
“When you look up [community service] in the dictionary, I think a picture of my father should be there,” Ted Kelly said. His speech brought the family and many other to tears as he reflected on Kelly’s devotion to the Northeast and the concert series that has provided an estimated $1 million in entertainment to date. Kelly died almost two months to the day before his induction.
“Ed Kelly was institution from the time I was first elected,” O’Brien said. “I’ve always been very impressed with the history and every wonderful thing that happens in Philadelphia.”
Sunday’s ceremony brings the grand total of Hall of Famers to 10 people and nine institutions.