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Gateway to the Mountains

George Wireman

Chapter 40: Outstanding Citizens

Thurmont is justly proud of its citizens and takes great pride in the fact that a number of them have attained great success in many and varied fields of endeavor. Each success has brought with it many re-warding experiences and wide recognition, not only for the individual, but for the community as well. This chapter does not necessarily cover all of the outstanding citizens of Thurmont, for there arc many, but is designed to give the reader an insight to the degree or measure of success attained by those mentioned here.

Robert C. Tyson

Robert C. Tyson, son of Robert Alexander and Effie May (Fleming) Tyson, was born in Thurmont, Md. on August 13, 1905. He attended Thurmont High School and Mercersburg Academy. In 1923 he graduated from Mercersburg Academy and entered Prince-ton University, where he majored in economics and graduated in 1927. Following graduation, he was associated with Remington Rand, Inc., and from January 1, 1929, with Price Waterhouse & Co. In 1932, Mr. Tyson became a Certified Public Accountant of the State of New York.

On June 1, 1939, he joined United States Steel as assistant audit supervisor. Rising successively to general accountant and assistant comptroller, he was elected comptroller of the corporation on February 29, 1950. He was elected a vice president on January 11, 1951, and vice chairman of the Finance Committee and a member of the Board of Directors and Finance Committee on November 25, 1952. Upon the retirement of Enders M. Voorhees on May 8, 1956, Mr. Tyson was elected by the Board of Directors as chairman of the Finance Committee.

Robert C. Tyson

Mr. Tyson is a member of the American Iron and Steel Institute; the Financial Executives Institute; member and director of the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, Inc.; member of Visiting Committee, Board of Overseers, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, Cambridge, Mass.; member of the advisory board, Hoover Institution, Stanford, California; member of the board of directors, executive committee and vice chairman of the Commerce and Industry Association of New York; vice president, New York Chamber of Commerce; chairman of the Tax Foundation; trustee, Princeton University; trustee of Lahey Clinic Foundation, Inc., Boston, Mass.; director of the Boy's Clubs of America; member, Board of Regents and Finance Committee of Mercersburg Academy; member, Board of Directors, Board of Overseers, and Executive Committee of Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Virginia; member, Board of Trustees, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, Vice Chairman of Board of Directors and member of Board of Trustees, Voorhees Technical Institute.

He serves on the Boards of Directors of the Chemical Bank New York Trust Company and Uniroyal, Inc.

Mr. Tyson holds the honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Stamford University. He is the recipient of the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation.

Club affiliations include The Links, Links Golf Club, Princeton Club of New York, National Golf Links, Union League Club, Duquesne Club of Pittsburg, Rolling Rock Club, Pennsylvania, Connequot River Club, New York, Laurel Valley Golf Club, Pennsylvania and Pine Valley Golf Club, New Jersey.

Mr. Tyson is married to the former Lucy Bannar of Norfolk, Virginia. They have one daughter, Mrs. Ralph E. Lawrence of Norfolk, Virginia, and one grandson, Robert Tyson Lawrence. Mr. and Mrs. Tyson reside at 888 Park Avenue, New York, New York.

Robert Tyson has indeed attained notable success in the business world and Thurmont is very proud to claim him as one of its native sons.

Victor M. Birely

Victor M. Birely was born in Thurmont, Maryland on June 24, 1895, the son of Samuel M. and Belva Cramer Birely. His father was a pioneer banker and one of Frederick County's leading businessmen. having organized several banks as well as conducting a number of industrial enterprises. The name Samuel M. Birely may be found in other chapters of this volume, for he was active in civic affairs and contributed much to the early history of Thurmont.

Victor M. Birely, like Robert C. Tyson, attended public schools in Thurmont and Mercersburg Academy. From 1923 to 1932, he con-ducted an investment business in Baltimore, Maryland, which in later years was transferred to Washington, D. C. where he has remained active in the investment securities business.

Mr. Birely has won wide recognition for his interest in Republican politics and in 1932, despite the general Democratic trend and ultimate landslide of that party, as well as the bad weather that prevailed on election day, the Thurmont district went heavily for Herbert Hoover and the Republican ticket. This was due largely to the well-organized Republican machine in this district, under the able leadership of Victor M. Birely, who was chairman of the Republican Central Committee for the Thurmont district.

Victor M. Birely has always been a student of Lincolniana and is considered a leading authority on the life of Abraham Lincoln. He was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a member of the Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission 1958-1961.

Mr. Birely is a member of the Lincoln Group of D. C. (Governor and Past President), Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, Columbia Historical Society, Sons of American Revolution and the Huguenot Society. He is treasurer of the U. S. Capitol Historical Society, a non-profit organization which published "We The People", a story of the capitol, having sold to date over 1,500,000 copies in this and other countries. The late President Kennedy was an Honorary Trustee, and President Johnson is presently an Honorary Trustee. Mr. Birely is a member of the National Press Club and is a member of the Lutheran faith and an active Mason.

In 1955, Mr. Birely and his son William, together with Kenneth R. Robertson organized Birely & Company, a well known investment firm. This firm, organized by securities men with many years of experience in the investment business, opened its main office in the Commerce Building and later another branch office in Arlington. Virginia. In 1964 this same firm opened still another branch office in Montgomery County as a convenience to investors living or working in the suburbs.

William C. Birely

William C. Birely, son of Victor M. Birely, has followed in his father's footsteps. He entered the investment business in 1947 with Folger, Nolan, Inc., where he was vice president until 1952. He was also a general partner of Rouse, Brewer & Becker from 1952 to 1955. William has served as a member of the Montgbmery County Council and the Montgomery County Board of Appeals.

A native of Thurmont, and a vice president and director of the Thurmont Bank, William C. Birely lives in Ashton and is prominent in investment, civic, and fraternal activities. He was president of the Montgomery County Young Republicans Club in 1948 and was a Republican Precinct Chairman for 16 years and Republican District Chairman from 1957 to 1962. He was elected as a delegate to the Maryland State Republican Conventions in 1952, 1956, and 1960.

In the fall of 1967, Mason & Company, Inc. announced that they had acquired a portion of the assets of Birely & Company and most of the members of the Birely staff joined with Mason. As a result of this transaction the scope of the brokerage services in the Washington area have been broadened considerably.

In addition to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, Mason & Company, Inc. offers assistance in portfolio reviews, investment banking, and regional distribution of underwriting. Today Mason & Company is an integral part of the Washington business community and maintains the same high standards of service which was a major factor in the success of Birely & Company.

Nola Jane Birely

Miss Nola Jane Birely, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Birely, represented the District of Columbia at the "Miss United States" beauty pageant in Norfolk, Virginia in the fall of 1965. The Birelys will long remember the pageant for Nola won the title of "Miss United States."

She attended the University of Maryland and was a student of the Patricia Stevens Career College of Washington. Although she is not a native of Thurmont, Nola Jane Birely enjoys visiting friends and relatives in the community. She has a deep love for Thurmont and rightfully so, for it is the native home of her father and grandfather.

Mrs. Charles H. Clarke

Mrs. Charles H. Clarke, known to her many friends as "Mother Clarke", is now in her twenty-fifth year of collecting small gifts to distribute to the sick and wounded veterans in area hospitals.

It all began years ago, when she and her late husband operated a tavern in Thurmont. She would hand out coffee and doughnuts to soldiers as they passed through the town in large convoys. She was a friend to all service men and during the war won their respect and admiration for the many little favors she did for them. Her home was a "home-away-from-home" for the servicemen. She contributed much to their morale. When the war ended, she continued this service and today she still begs and borrows to carry on this personal service for "my boys in uniform."

Through the years "Mother Clarke" has received many awards and citations for her work including a medal from Francis Cardinal Spellman, who also had an interest in service men.

Each year, as the Christmas season approaches, "Mother Clarke" begins writing letters to area merchants and manufacturers, seeking small items to hand out to "her boys" at Christmas.

"Mother Clarke", now 72 years of age, enjoys this sort of thing, and strongly believes there is a special need, especially among the sick and wounded soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

She will long be remembered for her many acts of kindness shown to the service men, and since the Vietnam war has grown more in-tense in recent months, she is kept busy, visiting the hospital wards and providing the veteran with little pleasures that only a "mother" would think of. Her work, which she considers a mere pleasure, has won for her the respect and admiration of the entire community as well as thousands of service men throughout the country.

Mrs. Clarke now lives in Baltimore, but still enjoys her visits to Thurmont, where her interest in the service men had its beginning some twenty-five years ago.

Rodman Myers

Early in 1968, Rodman Myers, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Myers, was named as Maryland's "Outstanding Young Farmer" of the year.

Rodman started his farming career by working for his father at "Sonnyside Dairy Farm' after graduating from Thurmont High School. After nine years of working at home, he decided to go Into farming for himself and presently owns some 240 acres of rlch farm-land just north of the community. He has made many Improvements and has modernized many farming methods with automatic equipment.

In 1961, Rodman and his wife Jean were honored as "State Young Couple of the Year" by the Maryland State Grange. Rodman is a member of the Farm bureau, A. S. C. local committee, Maryland Cooperative Milk Producers' Association, Thurmont Adult Agricultural Class, Frederick County and National Holstein Assoc., Frederick County Breeders' Cooperative, the Future Farmers of America, St. John's Lutheran Church and many other organizations.

Rodman Myers well deserves the title of "Outstanding Young Farmer" and through the years he has gained wide recognition for his interest in and his devotion to the many farming activities which make up his daily life.

Mrs. William McPherson McGill

In 1934, Mrs. William McPherson McGill was appointed by the late Governor Albert C. Ritchie, as a member of the Maryland Tercentenary Commission. This was indeed quite an honor for Mrs. McGill, as she was the only woman appointed to serve on this thirty-member commission, created by the governor in connection with the 300th. Anniversary of the State of Maryland.

Again in 1964 this same citizen received another award, having been selected as Maryland's "Mother of the Year" by the Mothers Committee of Maryland.

Mrs. McGill was first nominated for this award by the Women's Democratic League of Frederick County. The final selection was made by Arlene Moreland who was Maryland State Chairman of the American Mothers Committee. She represented Maryland in New

York, where she was the guest of Governor J. Millard Tawes and competed for national honors.

Mrs. McGill is a charter member of the United Democratic Clubs of Maryland. She has been active in historical work and is a member of the Frederick County Historical Society, having served at one time as Historian. Her youngest son Francis, who has studied opera for a number of years, recently won the acclaim of opera critics in Europe as well as in the United States. He is presently appearing in Germany's operatic circuit and his performances have been rated as "most outstanding."

Frederick Graf Whelan 3rd.

On June 8, 1965, Frederick Graf Whelan 3rd., son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Graf Whelan Jr. and grandson of Mr. and Mrs. William McGill, received the Presidential Medallion from President Johnson. Frederick was among several presidential scholars who were appointed by the President of the United States on the recommendation of a special commission. The program was established to give distinction and encouragement to what President Johnson has called "the most precious resource of the United States ... the brain power of its young people."

This award is based on the intellectual attainment and potential for future accomplishment. Ludlow H. Baldwin, headmaster of Gilman School, where Whelan attended, described the youth as "a great boy, talented in many areas."

Young Whelan led his class academically for the three years previous to June 1965. He was a class officer, editor of the school newspaper, a member of the glee club and has won many prizes for mathematics, and an essay on government and music.

"He uses his great talent in a moral way. On Saturday mornings he tutors educationally deprived boys," says a Gilman school official and both his parents and grandparents are proud of this young lad who is now in college and making a name for himself. His mother, the former Caroline McGill, is a native of Thurmont and contributed much to the success of the girls basketball championship of 1935 and 1936, when she was a student at Thurmont High School.

Chapter Index

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