NE Hall of Fame inductees announced

Local elite: The Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame’s next class of inductees includes (from left) Al Schmid, William “Bill” Boggs III and Robert N.C. Nix Sr. The other inductees are Edward Duffield and Friends of Pennypack Park. SOURCE: JACK MCCARTHY

The Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame was scheduled to hold a news conference on Wednesday morning at Holy Family University to announce its next class of inductees.

The induction ceremony will take place on Oct. 16 at Holy Family.

The biographies of the inductees were written by Jack McCarthy, project director for the Hall of Fame.

Edward Duffield (1730–1803)

A colonial clock and compass maker, civic leader and educator.

Born and raised at “Benfield,” his family’s estate in what is now the Morrell Park neighborhood of the Northeast, Duffield was a well-known clock and compass maker and civic leader in colonial Philadelphia. His double-faced clock that hung outside his shop at 2nd and Arch streets in Old City may have been the first public clock in America. For a time, Duffield also maintained the clock on the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall. Duffield was good friends with Benjamin Franklin. In June 1776, Franklin was appointed to the “Committee of Five,” a group including Thomas Jefferson and John Adams that was charged with drafting the Declaration of Independence. It is probable that the Committee met at Benfield in late June to discuss the final form of the Declaration, while Franklin was staying there recovering from an illness. During the British occupation of Philadelphia in the Revolutionary War, Duffield was imprisoned briefly in Walnut Street Prison, which he had helped to build. Members of Franklin’s family also stayed at Benfield during the British occupation.

In addition to being active in many civic institutions in the city, Duffield was a leader in the Northeast community. He helped to establish two local schools, the Lower Dublin Academy and the Byberry and Moreland School, served as founding president of the Trustees of Lower Dublin Academy, and helped to found All Saints Episcopal Church in Torresdale. He also pursued various agricultural innovations at Benfield.

ull; Al Schmid (1920–1982)

World War II hero

Albert Andrew “Al” Schmid was born in 1920 in Burholme and began work at Dodge Steel in Tacony in 1940. On Dec. 9, 1941, two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Marines. Sent to Guadalcanal Island in the South Pacific, Schmid and two fellow Marines, Cpl. LeRoy Diamond and Pvt. Johnny Rivers, were manning a machine gun post on the night of Aug. 21, 1942 when hundreds of Japanese attacked their position. Diamond was killed instantly, Rivers was seriously wounded and unable to fire the gun, and Schmid was blinded by a grenade. For four hours, Rivers directed Schmid, who couldn’t see, where to shoot. By morning, they had killed 200 Japanese and had survived the attack.

After many surgeries, Schmid regained a little sight in one eye. In 1943, he received the Navy Cross “for extraordinary heroism and outstanding courage” and was personally commended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He received a hero’s welcome when he returned home to Philadelphia, including a parade in his honor and the Hero Award from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Schmid’s heroic actions, along with his difficult recovery and subsequent marriage to his Tacony sweetheart Ruth Hartley, were the subject of the 1945 Warner Brothers film, Pride of the Marines, starring John Garfield.

Robert N.C. Nix Sr. (1898–1987)

Congressman

Robert Nelson Cornelius Nix Sr. was born in South Carolina and graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1921. After receiving a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he began practicing in Philadelphia. He became active in the local Democratic Party as a committeeman from the 4th Ward in 1932, was appointed special assistant deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1934, and was a delegate to the 1956 Democratic National Convention. In 1958, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, the first African-American to represent Pennsylvania in the House. He was re-elected 10 times, serving 20 years before losing to William H. Gray III in the primary in 1978.

In the mid-1950s, Nix was among the first residents of Greenbelt Knoll in Holmesburg, the first planned interracial housing development in the City of Philadelphia and one of the first in the United States. Nix worked for the passage of the landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s. He was chairman of the Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service and chairman of the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy. The Robert N.C. Nix Federal Building in Philadelphia is named in his honor. His son, Robert N.C. Nix Jr., became the first African-American to be elected to statewide office in Pennsylvania when he was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1971.

William “Bill” Boggs III

Television host, journalist, author

Boggs was born in 1941 and raised in Mayfair. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a master’s degree from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication. He was celebrity correspondent for the syndicated PBS television show My Generation, which featured interviews inspired by his 2007 book, Got What it Takes?: Successful People Reveal How They Made It to the Top. As a result of that book, he is sought after as a motivational speaker.

A four-time Emmy winner and former news anchorman for WNBC in New York City, Boggs has hosted and produced a wide range of TV shows, including talk shows, game shows, comedy, food, travel and sports shows. He was the executive producer of the groundbreaking Morton Downey Jr. Show and founding executive producer of Court TV (now TruTV). He helped launch the Food Network and appeared on various shows on the network. In 2003, he debuted a solo stage off-Broadway show called Talk Show Confidential, which included stories and video clips from his years as a television talk show host. That show and his novel, At First Sight, were optioned for a movie inspired by his life. He also formed a production company that produced several music shows, a documentary and the syndicated series Comedy Tonight. Boggs is an officer of the Friars Club of New York and a member of the board of directors of the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame. In 2000, he was honored as a “Father of the Year,” by the National Father’s Day Committee.

Friends of Pennypack Park

Institutional inductee

Friends of Pennypack Park was formed in 1987 by a group of individuals who were concerned about the state of the Park and had a vision for an organization that would be an advocate for the Park and actively work to improve its condition. FOPP activities include: conducting monthly history and nature walks, park clean-ups, meetings on matters concerning the park and environment, and monitoring of water quality in Pennypack Creek on a regular basis. Past accomplishments include: placing public telephones in the Park, repairing and replacing picnic tables and benches and placing additional trash cans throughout the Park, erecting gates at trail entrances to keep unauthorized motor vehicles out of the Park, and installing informational signs at park entrances.

Pennypack Park is the green heart of the Northeast. The Park was established in 1905 by the City of Philadelphia to ensure the protection of Pennypack Creek and the preservation of the surrounding land. The Park consists of 1,600 acres of woodlands, meadows, wetlands and fields and serves as a natural recreational area for all to enjoy.

Popular activities include hiking on miles of backwoods trails, horseback riding, bicycling on the park’s nine-mile paved bike path, and picnicking and fishing in the Pennypack Creek.

For almost 30 years, the Friends of Pennypack Park have worked to maintain and preserve this wonderful Northeast natural resource. ••