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Remembering N. Linn Hendershot

May 03, 2008

The late N. Linn Hendershot, who passed away this week, often said he would do as much as he could in whatever time the Lord granted him to do it.

He did a great deal and his service on the Hagerstown City Council was just part of it. The list of his accomplishments was all the more remarkable because of the obstacles he had to overcome.

As a child he had polio, which weakened his lungs and eventually forced him to use a portable ventilator.

Despite that, he graduated from the University of Maryland and held the following jobs: Sports Information Director at Bucknell University, a public relations staff member with the Atlanta Falcons, public relations director of the United States Auto Club (Indianapolis 500) and marketing director of Motor Sports Marketing Corporation, a division of NASCAR.

When Hendershot was named a director of the Americans with Disabilities Association Political Action Committee in 1994, Dr. James Cherry, ADA's national chairman, praised Hendershot's commitment to the disabled and especially for his work on making Turner Field, one key site of the 1996 Olympics, a model of accessibility.

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He was no less committed to that cause - and many others - after returning to Hagers-town, where he became communications director of the Western Maryland Hospital Center.

He advocated for patients and their families, organizing a Christmas party to bring the holiday spirit to people who sometimes had no one else to celebrate with. He rallied the community to help build a flower garden and fish pond at the hospital, to give patients something beautiful to look at.

Working with MIHI - Many Individuals Helping Individuals - he helped raise money for the construction of accessible playgrounds. Most recently, he had advocated for a senior center for Washington County, the only Maryland County without one.

Hendershot ran for the Hagerstown Council in the 2001 election, saying he was optimistic about the municipality's future, but said that it would take good leadership to ensure success.

He positioned himself as a consensus builder, saying that, "We need leadership instead of finger-pointing, blaming everyone else but ourselves. We can't blame the delegation, the county commissioners, the governor and anyone else who happens to drop by. It's indeed time we take responsibility for the future of our city."

Soon after he won election to the council, Hendershot gave his fellow council members copies of "Cities Without Suburbs," by David Rusk. The book argued that if a municipality with relatively poor residents is surrounded by affluent suburbs, both areas will suffer.

The council on which Hendershot served saw the upgrade of the Hagerstown Fairgrounds, enactment of rental property inspection and a renewed interest in downtown redevelopment.

Whether it was a city project or something to benefit a nonprofit organization, Linn Hendershot was adept at getting many people working together on behalf of a good cause. Instead of pitying himself for the hand life dealt him, he overcame his physical disabilities by using his intelligence - and his heart - on behalf of others.

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