'What a great leader'

John M. Waltersdorf is honored at Hagerstown Community College

John M. Waltersdorf is honored at Hagerstown Community College

April 08, 2006|By PEPPER BALLARD


Faithful. Loyal. Generous. Honest.

These were the words the Rev. Dr. D. Stuart Dunnan used to describe friend John M. Waltersdorf during Hagerstown Community College's Seventh Annual Tribute, a fundraiser Friday night at the college's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center that benefits the college, its students and the Waltersdorf-Henson Endowment Challenge.

More than 430 people paid $125 a plate to attend the tribute, said Lieba Cohen, the college's director of institutional advancement.

Net proceeds from the event, from both ticket sales and sponsorships, were expected to exceed $60,000, which Beth Stull, HCC spokeswoman, said would go toward endowed scholarships.


The ARCC was transformed for the event. The lights were dimmed. About 100 strands of white Christmas tree lights dangled from lines strung below the gymnasium's high ceilings. Blown up photographs of Waltersdorf and images from the movie, "March of the Penguins" were spread throughout the room, which was created by a border of black cloth-sheathed walls.

Before handing Waltersdorf a citation from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, James D. Fielder Jr., secretary of the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation made an allusion that Waltersdorf is like the emperor penguin.

"What a great leader John has been," Fielder said.

Waltersdorf served as president of Tristate Electrical & Electronics Supply Co. from 1960 to 1994, at which time he passed the reins to his daughter, Grayson W. Oldfather. Waltersdorf was CEO of the company until it was sold in November 1999 to a Dutch firm, Hagemeyer N.V., according to the tribute program.

His philanthropic endeavors include the Community Foundation of Washington County, Md. and along with his late wife, Peggy, and the Richard A. Henson Foundation, created the Waltersdorf-Henson Community Challenge in 2004, with contributions of $2.5 million each.

"Not every businessman is as successful in their business, nor as admired, as you are by your colleagues," said Dunnan, who is Saint James School's headmaster.

He said that what is also important to note about Waltersdorf, a Washington County, Pa. native, is that "he did not just succeed in this community, he stayed in this community."

He said Waltersdorf "dearly loved his wife, Peggy" and was devoted to his marriage. He has four children, he said.

Waltersdorf was wearing a Saint James School bowtie, Dunnan said.

Catherine Oldfather, 15, Waltersdorf's granddaughter, said she was always too young to attend her grandfather's honoree events in the past.

"I think it's awesome," she said. "He's loving all of it. He definitely deserves it."

Waltersdorf sat at the head table and watched as Dunnan spoke, occasionally bowing his head, humbly. At the end of Dunnan's speech, he clapped and clasped his hands together.

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