Hagerstown woman named to Senior Citizens Hall of Fame

November 13, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- In the days following the 85th Alsatia Mummers Parade in Hagerstown, Phyllis McCleaf was hoping to soon see the top of her dining room table again.

As a volunteer for the Alsatia Club, McCleaf shared responsibilities of the formation committee with her husband, Jim, and was involved with sending out the prize money after the Oct. 31 parade.

"Since May, Jim and I fielded all the telephone calls about the parade from our home," she said.

A week before the parade, McCleaf took time out from her volunteering to attend the annual Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame banquet in Glen Burnie, Md., which honors senior citizens who have made exemplary contributions to society.

She is a member of the Washington County Retired Educational Personnel Association and the Maryland Retired School Personnel Association.

The Hall of Fame seeks to immortalize men and women and to record their names in the archives for all time because of their caring and volunteer efforts in improving the lives of others.


This year, 48 individuals were honored.

"I help out at my church -- First Christian -- in the church library," McCleaf said. She also is a member of Friends of the Washington County Library.

These were logical choices for her. When McCleaf first came to Washington County in the mid-1960s, she was trained in library science, having earned her undergraduate degree from Shepherd College in 1964 and her master's degree from Shippensburg State College in 1973.

At that time, most of Washington County's elementary schools didn't have central libraries. And the ones that did had no librarians, said McCleaf, who spent her first five years as a fourth-grade teacher at Sharpsburg Elementary School.

In the fall of 1969, she was one of a handful of people chosen to fill several new elementary librarian positions, serving two schools each.

"I spent three days a week at Fountaindale and two days at Woodland Way then," McCleaf said. In 1971, she went to Fountain Rock, where she remained until she retired in 2003.

Other than volunteering, McCleaf is devoted to her family, which includes son James G. McCleaf II; daughter, Mary Marguerite Spurgeon; and three grandchildren ranging in age from 14 months to 9 years old.

If she has anything to do with it, those youngsters will realize the benefits of their grandmother's love of the printed word even in the Internet age.

"Children still love to hold those books," McCleaf said.

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