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Irvin-Craig named business club's Woman of the Year

September 13, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

A leader, a mentor and model for woman.

An advocate for the poor and homeless.

At an event Monday night to honor Washington County's first elected female commissioner, friends and business associates heaped praise on Linda Irvin-Craig as she was recognized as the Hagerstown Business and Professional Women's Club's Woman of the Year.

Speakers neatly spared Irvin-Craig, who works with Interfaith Housing Alliance Inc. in Frederick, Md., one important adjective, her son pointed out: goofball.

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"I'm talking goofy with a capital Guh-double ooh-f-y," said Woody Irvin of Alexandria, Va.

Irvin-Craig, who served four years as a member of the Washington County Board of Education before winning election to the County Commissioners in 1986, looked on and smiled as a handful of speakers paid homage to her.

More than 30 people attended the event at Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

A member of the City of Hagerstown Board of Zoning Appeals and co-chair and co-producer of Elvis Lives, Irvin-Craig said she was honored to be named Woman of the Year.

"I'm extremely honored and so very pleased that Business and Professional Women, which is a fine, fine organization, that they would have chosen me," she said.

Irvin-Craig served as commissioner from 1986 to 1994.

Jim Upchurch, president of Interfaith Housing Alliance Inc., said Irvin-Craig treats homeless clients with the same dignity and respect as elected officials.

"She cares about the community. She cares about everyone in the community," Upchurch said.

According to Sandra Mills, Hagerstown Business and Professional Women's Club started in 1936 to promote equity for women in the workplace. Mills was the chapter's Woman of the Year in 1996.

Irvin-Craig works as the fund development and community relations officer for the housing alliance, which helps find housing for low- and moderate-income families and individuals in Western Maryland and southcentral Pennsylvania, Mills said.

Children's Village of Washington County is a testament to Irvin-Craig's concern for all people, Hagerstown Fire Department public education officer Mike Weller said.

Children have told Weller the skills they learned at the Mount Aetna Road facility saved their lives. Irvin-Craig helped lobby to make the safety town possible, Weller said.

"I am often mistaken for one of the people who first brought the original idea for the Children's Village here to Hagerstown, and that could not be further from the truth," Weller said.

Irvin said his mother always kept her sense of humor, even as she managed a business and public life.

The family cat's name was Mushmellon, and reuben sandwiches were casseroles. Irvin-Craig's ham radio handle was Rice Krispies, because as her son explained, the car's engine often went "snap, crackle, pop."

Irvin said he and his sister learned fairness and benevolence at home.

Irvin-Craig said she's learned to be a little goofy.

"You have to be a little goofy part of the time to deal with the really serious things. It's a break you get from dealing with really serious things," she said.

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