August 12, 2011

Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award Winner: Bill Maher (1920-2011)

My maternal grandmother, Ethelene Jones Crockett, was born in 1914 in St. Joseph, Michigan and grew up in Jackson, Michigan. She attended Jackson Junior College and graduated from University of Michigan. She married George Crockett, Jr. who was an accomplished lawyer, judge and congressman in his own right, and they had three children (including my Mom!) before she decided to attend medical school at Howard University in 1942.

Grandmother Crockett served her medical internship at Detroit Receiving Hospital but completed her residency in a New York City hospital because no Detroit hospital would accept an African American woman. She became the first Black female Ob/Gyn in the state of Michigan in 1952.

She retired from active practice in 1972. In 1978 she became the first woman president of the American Lung Association. Unfortunately, she died later that same year.

My grandmother was larger than life. I loved her very much. It would tickle her to know that her junior college created an alumni award in her name. The Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award is awarded annually by Jackson Community College.  William Maher won the award earlier this year.   This blog was sad to learn that Mr. Maher died earlier this month. [SOURCE]

Many of those who met him might agree that a conversation with William Maher was an unforgettable experience.

With a passion for his community that spurred him to support a number of local efforts, Maher had a big voice and a personality that left an even bigger impression.

Maher, an avid community activist and fundraiser, died suddenly Friday while walking on Vicary Road near his home in Liberty Township. He was 91.

Maher’s daughter, Linda Hath, said his passion to improve the community was rooted in his love for its people.

He loved being around people,” said Hath, 57, of Liberty Township. “He knew everybody.”

Maher “could never sit still,” Hath said, and he served on a number of local boards and committees, including the YMCA Board of Directors, Jackson County Airport Advisory Board and the Jackson Community College Foundation Board.

He was behind a push to institute later start times for high school students and cited studies that show teens learn better later in the morning.

His love of flying made him a regular fixture at the Jackson County Airport and he helped develop a flight training program at Jackson Community College. He chaired committees that raised money for planes and equipment for the college, led an advisory committee for the flight training program and founded the William and Mary Lee Maher Aviation Scholarship.

He had been working in recent years to install a monument at the county airport’s Aviation Heritage Park that would be dedicated to World War II pilots and what was then Jackson Junior College’s role in training them.

It was an important project to Maher, who was honored in 1994 with the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for his service in China during World War II, when he worked as a supplier for the AVG Flying Tigers and Chinese Army.

Maher had a great mind for business and a skill for convincing people to get behind projects he was pursuing, said JCC spokeswoman Cindy Allen, who often talked with Maher.

He had visited her office the day before he died, she said.

He always left you with a handshake or a hug and vowed to get back to you in a few days, and he would do that,” Allen said. “He might have a strong, boisterous voice, but he has a very soft heart.”

Maher was driven to promote the importance of education and hard work and to support students, Allen said.


Carolyn Moon (Amina) said...

What a legacy your Grandmother left you and I hope you don't mind me basking in that. I'd like to meet more people like Bill Mayer.

Villager said...

Amina - Our family is blessed to have Grandmother Crockett as part of our ancestry! I imagine that the family of Bill Mayer feels the same way about him.