May 17, 2022

Brick Ceremony Highlights College’s Champions

Brick Ceremony

The College of Southern Maryland Foundation honored seven people who have special connections to the college and the St. Mary’s County community at its annual Brick Recognition Ceremony at CSM’s Leonardtown Campus. The Brick Ceremony was April 23.

Bricks have been installed in front of the campus’ Wellness and Aquatics Center in memory of CSM facilities employees Sherman Clevenger and Thomas V. Cox, Leonardtown entrepreneurs Dick Curry and Johnny Joseph, and county educator and CSM Foundation Director Rhokey Millham, plus another brick has been installed to honor CSM administrator Dr. Tracy and Lori Jennings-Harris, director of the county’s Department of Aging and Human Services.

Bricks can be bought through the CSM Foundation by family members and friends, then the proceeds go to the foundation’s general scholarship fund to help CSM students.

“The CSM Brick Program provides both a way to memorialize and pay tribute to loved ones and members of the community who are our true champions,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy in her address during the ceremony.

“It allows us to remember those no longer with us. … People who made an impact,” said CSM Foundation Chair of Directors Nancy Hempstead. “And participants are supporting our community and the youth in our community at the same time.”

Family, friends, and former co-workers of those recognized attended the afternoon ceremony and later gathered in groups outside of the Wellness and Aquatics Center for pictures and to talk about their memories around the newly engraved bricks.

The sons of longtime St. Mary’s County Public Schools employee Rhokey Millham participated in the event. “It choked me up, seeing her name on the brick,” said Eric Millham, one of her sons. “She was a believer in this place … a believer of lifelong learning.”

The CSM Foundation donated the brick to honor Rhokey, who was on the CSM Foundation Board of Directors from 2002-2012. She chaired the Board Development Committee, the Annual Fund/Special Events Committee and a number of fundraising committees while serving on the board. In 2018, she was posthumously awarded CSM Foundation Director emerita status. Her career with the public school system mirrored that commitment to education and included positions as an early elementary school teacher, Title I resource teacher, principal at two different elementary schools and assistant principal at a middle school, director of library science and director of instruction.

“It’s nice to see her star on the walk of fame out there,” Keith Millham said after the ceremony. “I think it meant a lot to her to be on the board here, and it means a lot to us to see this recognition.”

The CSM Facilities Department donated two bricks in recognition of the contributions of two former Leonardtown Campus employees, Sherman Clevenger and Thomas V. Cox. Clevenger was in charge of buildings and grounds maintenance at the campus and, even before that, at St. Mary’s Community College. He was honored as a dedicated employee who enforced high standards and was instrumental in transitioning the facilities’ functions under the regional college umbrella.

“He was a very nice guy [who] did what anybody ask him to do,” said CSM Building and Grounds Team Leader Andrea Chisley, a former co-worker. “[He was] very particular about how he wanted things done in his department.”

Mr. Cox was facilities supervisor of the Leonardtown Campus, where he was known for his spirit of cooperation and camaraderie among his staff, plus his great pride in the quality of his staff’s work at the campus.

“He was straightforward, honest, and a dependable worker,” said CSM Facilities Operations and Maintenance Assistant Director Don Posey, Mr. Cox’s former supervisor. “He had a true compassion for the people working in his department and an earnest desire to make the college better. He implemented plans and secured funds for the Maintenance Building — a project that was desperately needed. … The brick that bears his name is but a small tribute to an employee who was so dedicated to the Leonardtown Campus.”

Two former, well-known Leonardtown entrepreneurs Dick Curry and Johnny Joseph were also recognized for their impact on St. Mary’s County with bricks engraved with each of their names as well as their business, the Leonardtown Supermarket.

A brick to memorialize Mr. Curry was donated by Marsha Anderson, Brenda Curry, and Rita Eversberg. “I think it’s all about tradition and carrying on the family name,” said Brenda Curry, Dick Curry’s daughter-in-law. “To me, that’s important.”

Originally from Wilkes-Barre, PA, Dick and his wife, Cecilia (nee Joseph), and their two children, Peter and Marsha, moved to Leonardtown in 1952, where, along with Dick’s brother-in-law, Johnny Joseph, they bought and operated the Leonardtown Supermarket. The partnership established a local business that was known for its outstanding meat market and for being a place where friends liked to gather for a cup of coffee, where Redskin football pools were created and where anyone could get the store’s famous eggnog during Christmas.

The family’s commitment to the community went far beyond the walls of its store. Dick Curry was known for his loyalty and dedication at St. Aloysius Church, the Loyola Retreat League, the Lions Club, and the Knights of Columbus. He was known for his loyalty and hard work, for his kind, generous and jolly personality, and as a person who always had a good joke and treated everyone as his best friend.

Phyllis Joseph, Johnny Joseph’s wife, who donated a brick in honor of her husband, said she likes the idea of a memorial to her husband and the store being placed at the college, because the campus is in Leonardtown. “That store was his life,” she said. “I feel like they contributed to Leonardtown. The business meant so much to them.”

Johnny Joseph was the happiest spending time with his wife and their children, Mike, Joe, Johnny, Beth and Margie and their spouses, as well as eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The entrepreneurial spirit of the family lives on in St. Mary’s where at least one Leonardtown Supermarket descendant, Dick Curry’s granddaughter, Beverly Newman, is co-owner of Bella Salon and Spa in California. Newman said she grew up hearing stories about her granddad’s approach to business. “He was the best butcher ever and just good to everybody,” she said.

While most of the bricks recognized at the ceremony were in memoriam, one was donated by a couple still actively contributing to the college and community, Dr. Tracy Harris and Lori Jennings-Harris.

The couple has lived in St. Mary’s County since 2006 and have both worked toward helping residents enter and succeed in college and through life. Lori Jennings-Harris is the Director at St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services. Dr. Tracy Harris is CSM’s Vice President of Student Equity and Success and is a leader in recruitment, admissions, registration, financial assistance, advising and counseling, special population services, student life and athletics at the college.

“The opportunity to support the CSM Foundation by honoring the Leonardtown Campus with a brick dedication was an excellent platform for my wife and I to share our love and commitment to CSM, Leonardtown, and its students,” Dr. Tracy Harris said.

The CSM Brick Program is a lasting celebration of those who have a special connection to the college and surrounding community. As a tribute to a family member, a friend or to represent a special occasion, a brick is inscribed and placed among other bricks at locations available on the La Plata, Leonardtown, and Prince Frederick campuses. Bricks can be purchased for $200 each, and the funds provide financial support to the college and its mission. For more information, contact the CSM Development Department at 301-934-7599 or visit the foundation online.

For more about the College of Southern Maryland, visit its Leader member page.

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