Letters to the editor

May 22, 2010

Kepler's legacy will live on in HCC leadership program

To the editor:

Since Dr. Atlee Kepler's death on April 28, many in our community have spoken and written about Hagerstown Community College's first president being a scholar, a gentleman and just the right person to lead the college through its formative years. Many of the students and employees from HCC's early days, along with members of the community, have mourned his loss, but are ever so grateful for his life.

After the funeral service on May 1, HCC was pleased to host a reception on campus for family and friends, where we had the opportunity to express our heartfelt sympathy. I had the distinct pleasure of joining trustee Merle Elliott and professor Vaughn Crowl to share our memories of Dr. Kepler.

In my remarks, I emphasized that Atlee Kepler was the rarest of men and he personified the best in Washington County. Despite all of his life accomplishments, we find ourselves remembering, first and foremost, not his deeds, but his character. It was the character of the man that so captured the respect and affection of all those who spent quality time with him.


In this regard, Mrs. Kepler has generously allowed me to share with others how Atlee reacted to visitors during his last few months. As family and friends called upon him, they ended their visits in admiration and wonder. Most were thinking, "You know, I went out there to cheer up Atlee and instead I found he cheered me up."

Atlee Kepler was a man of profound faith who believed in God and trusted in His will. He was a man who truly loved Washington County and for whom words like "educational opportunity for all" and "the need for quality public education" were not clichs, but rather beliefs he worked hard to establish in our community.

As an accomplished world traveler, he believed that Washington County was not just a small place in a large universe, but a very special place populated with many kind and charitable people. He strongly believed in the golden rule and the potential of everyone to serve the common good.

Although I had the pleasure of knowing Atlee for only eight years, I valued each of my conversations with him. As most of his friends know so well, he was a terrific story teller. His deepest convictions were always clearly stated, people centered, and as firm and steady as the walls of his church or his beloved HJC. Kepler felt that good people can change their communities for the better, as he exemplified. He believed that gentlemen should always do the kindest things, which he habitually did. He believed everyone had the right to a quality education, a rewarding job and a loving family.

As we give Dr. Kepler our final salute, it is a fond salute to a man who was beloved. It is a grateful salute to a man who dedicated his life to the education of others. It is a profoundly respectful salute to a man who helped convince local citizens that high quality and affordable post-secondary education was essential to the success of Washington County. In brief, he was a wonderful man, successful educator and highly dedicated citizen of Washington County.

Although Dr. Atlee Kepler belongs to the ages now, we preferred it when he was still with us. The extended HJC/HCC family feels strongly that Dr. Kepler's legacy should live on. Consequently, the college plans to perpetuate the memory of his leadership qualities by designating its student leadership program, which includes a credit-bearing course taught annually by professors Vaughn Crowl, Mike Harsh and Louise Wine, as the "Kepler Student Leaders Program."

HCC will be seeking contributions for a new student leadership education fund. These dollars will help the college improve and expand its initiative to nurture the best and brightest student leaders, drawn from the college's student body, as well as from local high school student leaders who participate in HCC's early college program (ESSENCE). The goal is to raise funds to sustain the program that nurtures the leadership potential of many outstanding students and also memorializes Dr. Kepler's leadership legacy. Consequently, the students who complete the student leadership curriculum will henceforth be known as "Kepler Leaders."

We invite the community to contribute to the Atlee Kepler Student Leadership Fund by contacting or sending contributions to the HCC Foundation ( or 301-790-2800, ext. 213).

Now that Atlee Kepler has gone to join his Lord, we are left with cherished memories. His extraordinary legacy of service to the college and the community will never be forgotten. God bless Atlee Kepler's family, friends and the college he loved so dearly.

Guy Altieri
Hagerstown Community College

Washington County's Republican delegates are effective

To the editor:

As the Republican minority leader in the Maryland House of Delegates, I have followed a few of the recent opinion pieces regarding "legislative effectiveness."

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