2018 Hall of Fame Inductees



Rudolph Brown

Dr. Margaret Clapp

Obery M. Hendricks Jr., Ph.D. 

Frederick Shack 

Sheila Walker, Ph.D.



Edward T. Bowser Sr.

Doris Britton

John L. Costley, Sr.

Althea Gibson  

Henry “Hank” Hamilton

The Honorable William Holt

J. Garfield Jackson, Sr., Ph.D.

Leroy J. Jones, Sr.

Ronald Manzella

Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver



Donna Alexander, DVM

Reginald D. Baker

Melvin Fieler, D.D.S.

Virginia Fletcher

Louis LaSalle

J.W. Pierson

Dr. Richard Thaler



Adegoke Steve Colson

David “Pic” Conley

Gwen Guthrie

Ann Harding  

Janice Ian

Naturi Naughton

Steve Washington



Michael Booker

Thomas Dean

Chris Fletcher

Charles Hinton

Robert “Bob” Lester

Larry Shumacher, Sr.

Raquel Vassell

Troy Webster

Lance Wigfall  

Arts & Letters

Rudolph Brown


Rudolph Earl Brown(January 7, 1952 – June 24, 1997) was a dedicated family man, journalist and activist, who graduated from East Orange High School with honors in 1970. “Rudy”, as he was affectionately known, held his first job as a journalist with East Orange High School’s newspaper, “The News”, whose motto was “keeping the community well informed”. Rudy held this motto true to heart as he gained the reputation of a dedicated journalist who sought to expose the truth, but also to report on positive news.

In 1974, Rudy received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications with honors from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. While at Rutgers, he was a community activist and photo journalist for the “Black Voice” student paper. Rudy continued his educational attainment with post-graduate work at New York University and the New York School for Social Research. 

Rudy started his professional career at Metromedia (FOX Television) as the production assistant on a variety of programs, including The Ten O’clock News, Sports Extra, Mid-Day Live and Wonderama. At Metromedia he worked as an engineer, operating studio cameras and videotape equipment. In 1978, he became the associate producer of “Sports Extra”, where he coordinated reporter and crew assignments, field producing and editing. Rudy subsequently became associate producer of “Black News” Metromedia, where he served as unit manager, and then in 1982 became producer of the show, which was renamed the “McCreary Report”, where we remained until 1996. With the McCreary Report leaving the airwaves in 1996, after decades of community programming, Rudy’s entrepreneurial spirit prompted him and two friends to create “3-B’s Productions”, which was his life-long dream. 

Committed to making a difference in the community and lives he touched, Rudy became an active Board Member of Urban Women’s Retreat (a shelter for abused and battered women), The Cable Television Commission Advisory Board for the City of East Orange, Educational Television Consultant for the East Orange Board of Education and President of the Park Avenue Estates Association.

In line with his commitment to the community and reputation as a dedicated journalist, Rudy brought informative, quality programming to black audiences and won scores of awards throughout his 21-year career. He won the Communications Excellence for Black Audiences award every year from 1983 to 1990. Additionally, he received several Emmy nominations including one for a documentary on Argo Starch, a product which was found to cause anemia in African-American women. This documentary resulted in the FDA subsequently putting a warning label on the product and awarding Rudy a merit citation.

Rudy was well loved by his family and friends. He married Ginger Williams in November 1982 and they have two sons, Randall and Randolph. Friends recall him as a person who “had the ability to be a very radical voice without being radical” and having “the ability to really challenge things that he thought was unfair”. In conjunction with his journalistic reputation, Rudy was always seen as a wonderful friend and a devoted father and husband.

Dr. Margaret Clapp


The winner of the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for biography, Margaret Antoinette Clapp (1910-1974) was a distinguished American educator who served as president of Wellesley College from 1946 to 1966.

Margaret Clapp was born April 10, 1910, in East Orange, New Jersey, the daughter of Anna Roth and Alfred Chapin Clapp, an insurance agent. She graduated from East Orange High School in 1926 and from Wellesley College in 1930. She received an A.B. from the latter with a focus on history and economics. While in college she was named a Wellesley College Scholar, an award given for academic excellence.

Following graduation, she taught English literature at the Todhunter School for Girls in New York City. She stayed in this position for 12 years, during which time she also worked at Columbia University for her master's degree in history, which she received in 1937. During World War II and shortly thereafter she taught in the history departments of various universities in the New York City area, including the City College of New York (1942-1944), Douglass (1945-1946), and Columbia (1946-1947). At the same time Clapp continued her graduate studies at Columbia in American history.

Margaret Clapp was the eighth president of Wellesley College. Her presidency of Wellesley, which extended from 1949 until she resigned in 1960, was one of the most notable in the history of the college.  In 1970 she received a rare honorary doctorate from Wellesley.

Miss Clapp stressed a well- balanced, liberal arts education for her students and set a brisk, workmanlike tone for them.  As a college administrator, she kept student enrollment at a steady 1,700. During her tenure of office, the value of the college's endowment increased from more than $15 million to $99 million, five major buildings were, erected, older buildings were remodeled and other improvements were made.

 A feminist during the 1950's when conventional notions of feminine identity were at a peak, Clapp maintained that women's sole purpose in life was neither motherhood nor wifedom. Against the then popular Freudian "mystique" Clapp urged that women pursue careers and that social programs such as day care centers and domestic services be provided to allow women to combine work with domestic commitments.

In 1966 Clapp retired from Wellesley and the following year served briefly as chief administrator of a women's college (Lady Doak) in Mandurai, India. In 1968 she accepted a position as United States cultural attaché to India. Later she served as minister-councilor of public affairs in the United States Information Agency (USIA), an office she held from 1970 to 1971.

Clapp retired from public life in the early 1970's and returned to Tyringham, Massachusetts, where she died of cancer in 1974. The library at Wellesley is named in her honor, a fitting tribute to a woman who furthered the cause of women's education.

Obery M. Hendricks, Jr. , Ph.D.


Obery “Buddy” Hendricks moved to East Orange from Farmville, Virginia via Newark, when he was three years old. He attended Stockton and Kentopp grammar schools and Lincoln and VLD for junior high. He is a 1971 graduate of East Orange High School, where he was Vice President of the Student Council and President of the Black Student Union.

A life long social activist, Obery Hendricks is one of the foremost commentators on the intersection of religion and political economy in America. He is the most widely read and perhaps the most influential African American biblical scholar writing today. Cornel West calls him “one of the last few grand prophetic intellectuals.” 

A widely sought lecturer and media spokesperson, Obery’s media appearances include CNN, CBS, Fox News, Fox Business News, the Discovery Channel, PBS, BBC, NHK Japan Television and the Bloomberg Network. He has provided running event commentary for National Public Radio, MSNBC, and the al-Jazeera and Aspire international television networks. He has been a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Democratic National Committee, for whom he delivered the closing benediction at the 2008 Democratic Convention; served on the National Religious Leaders Advisory Committee of the 2008 Democratic Presidential campaign and served in the Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group at the U. S. Department of State under Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. He has been an Affiliated Scholar at the Center for American Progress and a Senior Fellow at The Opportunity Agenda, a social justice communications think tank; and serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). Obery is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and Salon.com, a former editorial advisor to the award-winning Tikkun magazine, and a contributing editor to The Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion. The Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation has called his work “the boldest post-colonial writing ever seen in Western biblical studies.” 

Hendricks’ best selling book, The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted (Doubleday, 2006), was declared “essential reading for Americans” by the Washington Post. Social commentator Michael Eric Dyson proclaimed it “an instant classic” that “immediately thrusts Hendricks into the front ranks of American religious thinkers.” The Politics of Jesus was the featured subject of the 90-minute C-SPAN special hosted by the Center for American Progress, “Class, Politics and Christianity.” Former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Governor Howard Dean has pronounced his most recent book, The Universe Bends Toward Justice: Radical Reflections on the Bible, the Church and the Body Politic (Orbis, 2011), a “tour de force.”

A former Wall Street investment executive and past president of Payne Theological Seminary, the oldest African American theological seminary in the United States, he is currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University in the Department of Religion and the Institute for Research in African American Studies; a Visiting Professor of Bible and Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, and Emeritus Professor of Biblical Interpretation at New York Theological Seminary. An Ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Hendricks holds the Master of Divinity with academic honors from Princeton Theological Seminary, and both the M.A. and Ph.D. in Religions of Late Antiquity from Princeton University.  

Frederick Shack


Frederick Shack, LMSW, is the Chief Executive Officer of Urban Pathways, Inc., whose mission is to ensure that homeless and at-risk New Yorkers have the housing, services and support they need to be self-sufficient. Under Mr. Shack’s leadership, which began in 2005, Urban Pathways has developed more than 600 units of affordable and supportive housing and has constructed nine buildings across four of New York City’s five boroughs.  


Prior to joining Urban Pathways, he spent 14 years at HELP USA, one of the nation’s largest human services agencies, serving disenfranchised citizens, as Senior Vice President of Client Services and Public Policy.  


Mr. Shack is the Vice-Chair of the Board of the Human Services Council of New York, Vice-Chair of the Board of the Supportive Housing Network of New York, and a former member of the Board of the NASW's New York Chapter.  He also currently serves as a member of the Mayor’s Non-Profit Resiliency Committee and as a member of the Mayor’s Supportive Housing Taskforce. In addition, he is a founding member and past president of Homeless Services United.  


Mr. Shack is a proud graduate of East Orange High School, Class of 1970, and went on to receive his bachelor's degree from Rutgers College and a Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University. Along with his duties as CEO of Urban Pathways, since 2006 he has taught homeless policy and field supervision as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Social Work. In addition, he authored sections on “Poverty, Housing Policy and Homelessness in NYC” in two additions of the NASW-NYC’s Poverty Toolkit.

Mr. Shack is a devoted husband, to his wife Gloria, and devoted father, to his two children, Victoria and Douglas.  

Sheila Walker, Ph.D


Sheila S. Walker was valedictorian of her EOHS graduating class of 1962. She obtained a BA cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in Political Science, which included spending a year in Paris studying at the Institute d’Études Politiques and the Sorbonne, and a PhD from the University of Chicago in Cultural Anthropology. Beginning her teaching career at the University of California at Berkeley in the School of Higher Education, from which she moved to the Department of African American Studies, she became a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and then a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the African Diaspora and the World program at Spelman College, holding endowed chairs at the latter two institutions.

While at Bryn Mawr, Dr. Walker spent a summer living with a family in the Bamum Kingdom in Cameroon in Central Africa. That was the experience that most defined her life and about which she is currently writing a memoir. It led her to become a cultural anthropologist with a focus on Africa and the Global African Diaspora. As a result, she has done field research, lectured, and participated in cultural events in most of Africa and the African Diaspora, initially in the Americas—Chile to Canada—and then including less obvious places like Turkey and India. She has numerous scholarly publications and has also written for popular publications such as Ebony and Essence. 

Dr. Walker was invited by the United Nations Remember Slavery Programme to give the keynote address at the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the 2016 International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In addressing the issue of “remembering slavery,” she asserted that whereas it remains appropriate to recall the horrors to which enslaved Afro descendants were subjected during the period of slavery, it is even more important to highlight their contributions, accomplishments and triumphs—in spite of slavery.

Executive Director of the non-profit organization Afrodiaspora, Inc., her goal is to share widely her experiences and knowledge of the Global African Diaspora. Her book, African Roots/American Cultures: Africa in the Creation of the Americas, and companion documentary, Scattered Africa: Faces and Voices of the African Diaspora, are based on the international conference she organized with support from UNESCO on “The African Diaspora and the Modern World.” Her most recent, and pioneering, book, Conocimiento desde adentro: Los afro-sudamericanos hablan de sus pueblos y sus historias/Knowledge from the Inside: Afro-South Americans Speak of their People and their Histories (in Spanish), features chapters in which Afrodescendants from the nine Spanish-speaking countries in South America tell the stories of their communities from their own perspectives. 

She is now making documentary films using the large library of images she has accumulated during her extensive field research and travels. Her most recent documentary, Familiar Faces/Unexpected Places: A Global African Diaspora, features both well-known Afrodescendant communities in Brazil and Colombia, for example, as well as lesser known ones in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, India and Turkey.  She looks forward to showing it in EO!

Civic & Community Service

Edward T. Bowser, Sr.


Edward Theodore Bowser, Sr., was a pioneering civic and political leader. He was born January 13, 1901 to William Henry Bowser and Annie Woodson Bowser in East Orange, New Jersey. He attended Eastern Elementary School and graduated from East Orange High School. He attended New School of Industrial Art (before becoming Newark College of Engineering) and received a certificate in Architectural Drafting. It was during this time he began drawing plans for new churches, church additions, houses and businesses in and around East Orange. 

Edward T Bowser, Sr. was active in community affairs in East Orange. He was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly and served two (2) terms from 1950-1955. He was elected to the East Orange City Council and served the 3rd Ward from 1963-1965.   He was a member of the East Orange Planning Board, and was appointed Chief Building Inspector in 1967, by then Mayor James W. Kelly making him the first African-American Department Head in the City of East Orange, and served until 1975.

He began his Masonic career at age 21 as a member of St. John's Lodge #43, of the Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masonic Order. He rose quickly through the ranks during his 67-year career to become a luminary in the Masonic world as Grand Master of Prince Hall Grand Lodge and as a Past Patron of St. John Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. His contributions were prolific.  

His proudest accomplishment was retiring the lodge’s mortgage In 10 rather than the contracted 20 year term. The masons purchased land across the street from the Temple, constructed housing and named it the Edward T Bowser, Sr. Complex in 1990. 

Edward T Bowser, Sr. was a life long member of Calvary Baptist Church. His mother, Anne Bowser, was one of the original founders of the church. 

Edward T. Bowser, was the husband of Louise Elizabeth Patemann Bowser, herself the Grand Patron of her Eastern Star Lodge, and raised four successful sons. Most notably, youngest son Robert L. Bowser, Civil Engineer, Land Surveyor and Professional Planner who served a four - term Mayor of the City of East Orange. He had nine grandchildren and six great - grandchildren.


r. He was born January 13, 1901 to William Henry Bowser and Annie Woodson Bowser in East Orange, New Jersey. He attended Eastern Elementary School and graduated from East Orange High School. He attended New School of Industrial Art (before becoming Newark College of Engineering) and received a certificate in Architectural Drafting. It was during this time he began drawing plans for new churches, church additions, houses and businesses in and around East Orange. 

Edward T Bowser, Sr. was active in community affairs in East Orange. He was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly and served two (2) terms from 1950-1955. He was elected to the East Orange City Council and served the 3rd Ward from 1963-1965.   He was a member of the East Orange Planning Board, and was appointed Chief Building Inspector in 1967, by then Mayor James W. Kelly making him the first African-American Department Head in the City of East Orange, and served until 1975.

He began his Masonic career at age 21 as a member of St. John's Lodge #43, of the Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masonic Order. He rose quickly through the ranks during his 67-year career to become a luminary in the Masonic world as Grand Master of Prince Hall Grand Lodge and as a Past Patron of St. John Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. His contributions were prolific.  

His proudest accomplishment was retiring the lodge’s mortgage In 10 rather than the contracted 20 year term. The masons purchased land across the street from the Temple, constructed housing and named it the Edward T Bowser, Sr. Complex in 1990. 

Edward T Bowser, Sr. was a life long member of Calvary Baptist Church. His mother, Anne Bowser, was one of the original founders of the church. 

Edward T. Bowser, was the husband of Louise Elizabeth Patemann Bowser, herself the Grand Patron of her Eastern Star Lodge, and raised four successful sons. Most notably, youngest son Robert L. Bowser, Civil Engineer, Land Surveyor and Professional Planner who served a four - term Mayor of the City of East Orange. He had nine grandchildren and six great - grandchildren.


Doris Britton


Doris Elizabeth (Johnson) Britton on December 26, 1932 to the late George and Sereatha L. (Harrison) Johnson in East Orange General Hospital - East Orange, NJ. She was a lifelong resident raised and educated in the East Orange School District. Doris attended East Orange High School from 1947-1951. Doris was very ambitious in high school and belonged and participated in several activities in high school. She played basketball, she was a member of Modern Dance, President of Girls Glee Club, and one of a few black female Cheerleaders in her junior and senior years for both basketball and football seasons. Doris was known as “Shortstop” and “A Cheerleader with a cheerful disposition” which was quoted in her 1951 yearbook.  In high school, during her time as a cheerleader, it was told that she attempted to march with East Orange High School’s band but wasn't allowed to because she was black and some of the students would throw stones keeping her away and preventing her from walking with the rest of the team/students. Doris was proud to be a cheerleader for East Orange High School and periodically shared various stories. Doris was a graduate of the Class of 1951. 

In 1955, Doris met and married David Britton. Seven (7) children were born of this union: Six (6) boys and one (1) girl: David, Dean, Darryl, Dale, Dawn, Deric and Dodd and they all were educated in the city she cherished. Doris raised seven (7) children as a single parent. In 1968 she moved her children to Arcadian Gardens better known as “Little City”.  During times in Little City, Doris was well known for not only cooking enough food for seven children but always having enough prepared for several of the neighborhood kids. Friends and relatives were able to join her biological children at the dinner table with no questions asked. She was most remembered for how she prayed to the Lord to take her before any of her children. In her history of East Orange, she would often reminisce and mention how beautifully kept it remained during her childhood into adulthood.  Doris worked for years at Westinghouse in Bloomfield, NJ.  She transferred to Phillips Lighting Company as a keypunch operator and later worked briefly for the East Orange Board of Education. Doris always worked hard and was a guiding light to her children whom all loved and adored her immensely. She instilled the best of herself in her children and was a best friend to them all.

Doris was funny, feisty, a friend, and most of all she loved her children more than anything. Doris never complained about being a single parent, raising seven (7) children. She sacrificed a lot and never wavered. Doris always said, “If I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat”. She loved being a mother and a grandmother and was a best friend to many.

The Britton Family humbly and respectfully thanks the Selection Committee for the honor of our mother’s induction into the 2018 East Orange Hall of Fame. Our mother was truly our “SHERO”; we have learned so much from her, including survival skills from watching how she showed love to not only her family but to countless others in the 3.9 square mile land called East Orange.

John L. Costley, Sr.


Proud Veteran and Community Service Leader 

John L Costley, Sr., one of thirteen children, was born in Maryland in 1898 and spent his early childhood in Newark, New Jersey. At the age of seventeen, Mr. Costley joined the 369th all Black Infantry in New York. The 369th served 191 days in combat with the French 161st division along the Argonne Forest and Vages Mountains and was the first across the Rhine River into Germany. He was decorated with the French Croix de Guerre (Cross of War), the U.S. Medal for Service and the New York/New Jersey State Medals. He was the first African-American Grand Marshal of the East Orange Memorial Day Parade. 

After the war, he married Ms. Bessie Scott and soon after move to Bedford Street in East Orange. Here the couple raised six children, all of whom attending East Orange Public Schools. Mr. Costley drove a truck for Breyers Ice Cream Company, a Crane Operator at Brooklyn Navy Yard, and was one of the first Afro-Americans to become a Toll Collector for the New Jersey Turnpike. He also served as the president of the Toll Collectors’ Benevolent Association.

 Throughout his life, Mr. Costley was devoted to youth and education. He was active in organizing boys’ clubs and working with anti-poverty agencies. After he retired, he stay committed to children, helping to develop an alternative high school program (The HAY Project), The East Orange Coop Nursery and a summer youth employment program.

 Mr. Costley was always dedicated to education and the East Orange Community. It was for his faithful service that John L. Costley, Sr. Middle School was named in his honor in 1981. 

Mr. Costley was a dedicated member of Messiah Baptist Church until his passing on December 8, 1980.

Althea Gibson


The name Jackie Robinson has been synonymous with courage, superior athleticism, fierce competitor and breaking the MLB color barrier.  Now if he were a woman, with those same qualities and was also a FAMU graduate, AKA Soror, singer, actress, musician, author and broke the color barrier in tennis as well as pro golf, then his name would be Althea Gibson.  

The US Open used to be the US Nationals and is tennis’ Branch Rickey & Brooklyn Dodgers, by giving Gibson an opportunity as the first African American to play in our National Grand Slam tennis tournament in 1950.   She won her first major as the French Open Singles Champion in ’56 and in 1957 she won the first of two consecutive US Nationals and Wimbledon Singles & Doubles Championships.  She’s a member of the New Jersey Hall Of Fame and the International Tennis Hall Of Fame of Newport, RI.

We commemorate the 60th Anniversary of this pioneer and trailblazer, who won 11 Major Titles and whose life and achievements transcend sports. No player overcame more obstacles of poverty, race and gender discrimination to become a champion than Althea Gibson and even though she had to leave tennis at the height of her powers because they didn’t pay amateurs, she gave Black tennis of the American Tennis Association and HBCUs credibility paved the way for Arthur Ashe, Leslie Allen, Zina Garrison and Katrina Adams, straight through to today and importantly for Venus and Serena Williams who continue the legacy…..

Althea Gibson’s life and achievements transcend sports. A truant from the rough streets of Harlem, Althea emerged as a most unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s. Her roots as a sharecropper’s daughter, her family’s migration north to Harlem in the 1930's, mentoring from Sugar Ray Robinson, David Dinkins and others, and fame that thrust her unwillingly into the glare of the early Civil Rights movement, all bring her story into a much broader realm of the American story.


No player, not even the great Arthur Ashe (who came a decade after Althea), overcame more obstacles to become a champion than Althea Gibson; the first African-American to play at (and win) Wimbledon and the US Open was a woman. She was celebrated by ticker-tape parades in New York City, twice, to welcome her home after hard-fought victories. There was no professional tennis circuit for women in her era, so her options were limited. As Althea said, “You can’t eat a crown.” When she the #1 player in the world, she still could not afford her own apartment, and became constantly indebted to her benefactors.

Forced from the game to make a living, Althea later brought her talents to golf, breaking another color barrier: the LPGA, where she competed for over 10 years. She retired from competitive tennis and played exhibitions on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters, became a recorded Jazz singer, performing on the Ed Sullivan Show and “What’s My Line,” and landed a role in a John Wayne/John Ford film.


Late in life, forgotten by the "Tennis Establishment" and barely able to make ends meet, she became reclusive, enveloped by bitterness and resentment towards those she saw reaping million-dollar paydays. On her last trip to the US Open, she went unrecognized. She was extremely proud, didn’t want to ask for help, and wound up isolated.

Throughout her entire journey, Althea remained true to her conviction

Henry "Hank" Hamilton


“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius

Henry William Hamilton is a distinguished legend in the milieu of education, government, and public service.  His reputation in all facets of the aforementioned, are the hallmark by which “Hank,” as he is intimately and warmly regarded, abides.

To date, Henry has amassed an enviable total of fifty-eight (58) years as an educator in both New Jersey and Connecticut: Most notably, as principal of the Whitney E. Houston Academy for Creative and Performing Arts, (formerly the Franklin School) in East Orange, which was named after the iconic singer/actress, and Henry’s former student.

Henry is a natural born educator at heart and his passion for working with youngsters of all ages is an indomitable part of his DNA.  He is beloved by everyone.  

A product of the East Orange and Irvington School Districts, Henry attended East Orange High School before graduating Irvington Technical School, Henry excelled and lettered in all disciplines of sports including: baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and track.  His athletic talents garnered the young jock an athletic scholarship to Fayetteville Teacher’s College in North Carolina.  

Active in civic affairs, Henry has served as an Essex County as a Committee member and Chairman of the Second Ward (East Orange.)  Henry has also received countless accolades including: East Orange Community Development Service Award and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Spirit Award among others.  

While Henry is like a father figure to a litany of students he has led over the years, he is a devoted single parent to twin sons, Kendall and Kenneth.

Hon. William Holt


A pioneering Corporate, Civic and Political leader, William C. “Bill” Holt is as much a part of East Orange as East Orange is of him. A product of the East Orange Public School System where he graduated from Ashland Grammar School and Clifford J. Scott High School. Continuing in East Orange, Bill received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration, with a major in Accounting from Upsala College.

Sports became a part of Bill’s life at a very early age.  He would go on to become a prolific athlete in high school and college, earning All-State Honors in football and baseball.  His efforts earned him a four-year scholarship to Upsala College where he excelled in football, baseball and track. Here earned a total of eleven Varsity letters. Holt and three of his teammates, Fred Hill, Norman Hinkes and Thomas Henderson became known as the Famous ‘Four H’ Backfield. Together they combined to delight the most avid sports fans. In 1973, Bill along with Fred Hill and another boyhood friend, Richard Meningall, were inducted into the Upsala Sports Hall of Fame. After graduating from college, Bill played professional baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His promising career was interrupted by two years of service in the United States Army.

His career achievements as a professional  include: serving as an auditor and computer programmer with the Department of Treasury, State of New Jersey. But is was his passionate desire to make a difference that led him to excel in the Department of Community affairs and to make a transition into corporate life. While at Hoffman LaRoche,  he became Director of an innovative program TTP that provided comprehensive training,  job placement and college credits for minorities as laboratory technicians in chemistry, biology and microbiology. 

His profound commitment to public service led him to become  highly regarded for his stewardship and intuitive insights as a  ‘voice of reason’ on the East Orange City Council, Holt was privileged to represent both the Third Ward and Fourth Wards. He served with great distinction as part of the coalition that ushered the First Black Mayor to power in the late 1960’s — he served three successful terms — and then returned after a 23-year hiatus to serve from 2003 through 2012. One of his proudest accomplishments was passage of the Open Space Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund legislation prior to his departure in November 2012.

J. Garfield Jackson, Sr., PH. D.


For those that knew him, J. Garfield Jackson Sr. and education are practically synonymous. In 1989, this recognition brought Mr. Jackson one of his highest honors – an elementary school in his name. J. Garfield Jackson Sr. Academy stands as a physical testimonial to the lifelong mission of the man for whom it is named. Born on April 28, 1912, the second of five children to Katie Clark Jackson and Ellison Jackson, Mr. Jackson has spent his life guided by the following dictum: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” 

Even as a young high school student, Mr. Jackson broke racial barriers, thus beginning his ongoing quest for educational, social, and economic equality. In 1935, Mr. Jackson began his career in education as a teaching principal in the Elk Township, NJ School District. From 1951 until his retirement in 1980, Mr. Jackson promised and delivered unwavering support to thousands of young children pursuing educational excellence in New Jersey schools. As a teacher, assistant principal and recreational supervisor, Mr. Jackson was a positive role model and encouraging voice for every student who crossed his path. In 1962, he was appointed principal of Henry E. Kentopp School, becoming the first African American principal in Essex County. He served as principal at Kentopp until 1972, and then as Interim Superintendent of the East Orange School District and Director of Principals until his retirement. Exemplary leadership and a commitment to community service have been the hallmark of Mr. Jackson’s life. 

He was a member of the Essex Area Arts Council and New Jersey Alliance of Black Educators. He has served as President of the Lions Club, Co-Founder of the Men of Essex, and Chairman of the Black Issues Convention Education Committee. Other special honors also include being inducted into the Glassboro High School’s Sports Hall of Fame and having the library at Mildred E. Barry School carry his name. As a young child, Mr. Jackson developed a distinct interest in Africa via his exposure to Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Trips to Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin and other countries were an incredible inspiration to him. In the early 90's, he was given the honor of sitting on the Board of the Unity Home Lodge, a guest house in Accra, Ghana. Founded by his youngest sister, the late Mrs. Jessie Arnold, this hospitality service assisted other African Americans in realizing similar dreams visiting the continent. An international traveler and avid golfer, he attended four Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Barcelona, Seoul and Atlanta.

Leroy J. Jones. Sr.


LeRoy Joseph Jones Sr. Born in the City of Orange Township on April 6, 1935 to the late Joseph Henry Jones Jr. and Dorothy Bond, LeRoy Joseph Jones Sr. began his journey through life. In September of 1956, LeRoy met and married Rosan Gordon. Together they nurtured and raised their children. LeRoy attended the Orange Public Schools joining the graduating class of 1953 and then joined the U.S. Navy to proudly serve his country until his honorable discharge in 1966. In 1971, LeRoy earned an Associate Degree in Urban Studies from Essex County College and in 1972, attended the Community Action Training Institute at Rutgers University. He later continued his academic studies at Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies. LeRoy’s educational background and service to his country easily prepared him for the many career choices he would make in his various efforts to serve others. 

In his commitment to public service, he generously served on numerous boards and was a member of local and state organizations committed to confronting the challenges of poverty, discrimination and serving youth in disadvantaged communities. Some of these organizations included: Trustee for the Youth Institutional Complex of Bordentown, Yardville and Annandale; Trustee of the East Orange Neighborhood Development Corporation; member of the BAN-WYS, YMCA of East Orange; member of the YMCA Board of Management of Orange; Coach East Orange Tigers Pop Warner football ;appointed member by Governor Thomas H. Kean to the New Jersey State Law Enforcement Planning Agency; Senior Hearing Officer and member of the State Parole Board; American Legion Post 308 Commander; Boy Scouts of America Scout Master Troup 4 in East Orange; and a lifetime member of the NAACP. LeRoy’s commitment to public service has changed the lives of many and as such, his contributions were recognized by numerous organizations such as the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National District Attorneys Association, NJ State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the American Correctional Association. We would be remiss not to mention that aside from his family, LeRoy loved all sports. It was only natural that as an avid athlete he would devote his time to supporting youth in sports and became known for his elite basketball referee style. He was also, a true diehard fan of the Dallas Cowboys. He followed them wholeheartedly, win or lose! If you wanted to know facts and stats on the Cowboys, LeRoy Joseph Jones was your man. He knew stats about every player no matter when they played. 

He was a devoted man that showed his love for his family and his community in his every action. LeRoy’s unconditional love and fatherly guidance that he gave to his family is evident through his children and future generations to come. He was a quiet gentle giant whose dedication and unselfish service will never be forgotten. LeRoy Joseph Jones Sr. departed this earthly life on Friday, July 17, 2015, after living a long, productive and family-oriented life. Heaven has gained another angel. Rest well, we love you, however God loves you best!!!

Ronald Manzella


Ron Manzella, an East Orange native,  has had a prosperous career in government marked with accomplishments in fiscal responsibility, economic development, management and government relations.

Ron is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ having earned a Bachelor's degree in Sociology in 1972. He then went on to earn a Master's Degree in in Rehabilitation Counseling in 1974, and an Education Specialist Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling in 1984, both from Seton Hall University. He holds a Public Managers Certificate which he earned in 2005 from Farleigh Dickinson University and also has post master's graduate credits in Labor Negotiations and has taken courses in Leadership, Motivation and Organization.

His career in government began in Essex County where he served in various capacities including Executive Director of the Irvington Youth Resource Center, Director of the Essex County Division of Youth Services, Director of Essex County Correctional Services, and Acting Essex County Administrator. In the Township of Union, Manzella began his career in 2003 as the Director of Public Works, working his way to Assistant Administrator in 2005, and ultimately Township Administrator in 2011.

As the Administrator for the Township of Union, Manzella handles the day to day operations of the Township including the development and presentation of operational and capital budgets, labor and contract negotiations, and helps to ensure that the Township is moving forward according to the needs of Township residents and the directives of the Township Master Plan.

Manzella has experience as a guest speaker/lecture at Rutgers University and Seton Hall University. He is a State- Licensed Marriage Counselor and a State-Certified School Social Worker.

He is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the NJ Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, the Irvington Juvenile Conference Committee, the Child Placement and Review Committee, the Magnet School Advisory Board, the Irvington Special Services Advisory Board, and the Boy Scouts Executive Committee, among others.

Manzella has been the recipient of the B'nai B'rith Man of the Year Award, the Outstanding Man of America Award, the Men of Essex Scholar Athlete Award, the Boys Club of New Jersey Athlete of the Year Award, the Big Ten Hall of Fame Award and the Dr. Fayer Award.

He resides in Union with his wife Linda.

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver


Sheila Y. Oliver took the oath of office as New Jersey’s 2nd Lieutenant Governor on January 16, 2018. She is the first woman of color to serve in statewide elected office in New Jersey history. She was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs by Governor Phil Murphy.

Lt. Governor Oliver is a 40-year resident of East Orange, and a native of Newark.

First elected to the General Assembly in 2003, she became Speaker in 2010 – the first African-American woman in state history to serve as such, and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house.

She has chaired the Assembly Human Services Committee, and served on the Labor, Higher Education, Women and Children, Commerce and Economic Development, and Transportation and Independent Authorities committees. She also sat on the Joint Committee on the Public Schools and the Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity.

Prior to her election to the General Assembly, she served as an Essex County Freeholder, from 1996 to 1999, and was a member of the East Orange Board of Education.  She also served as an Assistant County Administrator for Essex County from 2000 until 2018.

An alumna of Newark’s Weequahic High School, she went on to graduate cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Lt. Governor Oliver holds a Master of Science Degree in Community Organization, Planning and Administration from Columbia University and has received honorary doctorates of humane letters from both Lincoln and Montclair Universities, in addition to Berkeley and Essex County College.

Lt. Governor Oliver has received numerous accolades and awards from organizations across the country honoring her life-long public service and advocacy for women’s equality, education and social justice.


Donna Alexander, DVM


Donna Alexander was born to Kathryn and the late William Alexander. She was educated in the East Orange School District and was the Valedictorian of the East Orange High School Class of 1974. Her parents were educators and growing up, young Donna always had a cat and a dog but she also had a large extended family in North Carolina where she enjoyed spending summers with horses and other animals. While a senior in high school, she was a cheerleader, athlete and a true leader. Her Valedictory speech challenged her peers to strive for excellence. Donna won the New Jersey’s Junior Miss competition. She was the first African-American girl to capture the state Junior Miss title in its history; the first to compete in the national pageant, was one of the finalists and was awarded the scholarship for Academic Achievement. In addition, at the age of 17, Donna was one of the first African American “Breck Girls” touting the shampoo in a long-running ad campaign that featured women including Christie Brinkley, Kim Basinger, Brooke shields, Cybil Shepherd, Cheryl Tiegs and Jaclyn Smith. The ad came out after she won the New Jersey Junior Miss competition while a senior at East Orange High School. She also appeared in magazines like Seventeen, Glamour and Mademoiselle; she even did a few modeling jobs afterwards. 

Donna earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978 and Veterinary Medicine degree from Penn in 1982. Dr. Alexander worked at the Chicago Animal Care and Control from 1984 to 1999 and “pioneered the spaying and neutering of juvenile animals as young as eight weeks of age” – that helped “spark historic decreases in animal euthanasia”. She was a long-time Chief of Cook County Animal and Rabies Control. She ran the department since 2007 with passion. Donna was such a hands-on veterinarian that Cook County Government canceled its reduced-cost rabies vaccine clinics Tuesday and Wednesday because she was the one who administered the shots. She went all over the county in her mobile van, and she did all of the shots herself. Donna vaccinated about 4,500 animals against rabies every summer. Whenever there was an outbreak of canine flu or police needed to clear out the homes of animal hoarders, or even the time in 2008 that a cougar was shot in Roscoe Village, Dr. Alexander was the one fielding calls from reporters and answering questions from the public.

Dr. Alexander was a regular on the WGN Radio Show where she talked about low-cost rabies vaccine clinics. Dr. Alexander, the County Veterinarian, was proactive in getting the word out and alerting all veterinarians about an outbreak of a dog flu (H3N2) that had begun to spread. She closed dog parks, dog beaches and got the word out to dog groomers and boarding facilities. She was one of the strongest advocates in America. She never sought fame or credit – it was all about the animals. Rabies was a passion for her and she helped create one of the best ordinances in the nation regarding trap-neuter-return-vaccinate. It has been the law in Cook County for some time now.

Donna Alexander was a “Dedicated Professional” and she loved animals and anything that had to do with their medical maintenance. She was told she only had four months to live when diagnosed with cancer three years ago. Thanks to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, she had three more years to spend with her mother. Dr. Donna Alexander, “A 2018 Hall of Fame Inductee!”  

Reginald Baker


Reginald D. Baker Baker is the Business Administrator of Physical Therapy of the Oranges located in South Orange, New Jersey — one of the leading regional companies in the health care/physical therapy industry. During the summer months Physical Therapy of the Oranges sponsors East Orange Campus High School students by hiring them for summer employment providing the students the opportunity to get into the workforce environment.

Reginald, known in East Orange as “Baker” or “Bake”, is a product of the East Orange School System. He attended Elmwood Elementary School, Vernon L. Davey Jr. High School and East Orange High School. Baker was a gifted and talented athlete. He was a leading scorer on the East Orange High School Basketball Team that won the 1974 Essex County Tournament Championships and Three (3) in-a-row State Championships. He graduated in 1974. Baker furthered his education at Bucknell University where he played Four (4) years of College Basketball. Baker was selected to the East Orange High School Decade All-Dynasty Team from 1969-1979.

Baker’s charitable efforts in support of the East Orange Community has been prolific. He has helped sponsor and mentor students who participated in the following programs: 

Reginald D. Baker East Orange High School Christmas Tournament - sponsored 15 Varsity High School Teams; Baker was the only former Student/Player to have a tournament that bears his name.

Baker purchased equipment and uniforms for Clifford J. Scott High School Football Team under the leadership of Head Coach Larry Schumacher. He also sponsored Orange High School and Seton Hall Prep Five Star Basketball Camps Reginald D. Baker Student Achievement Award – East Orange High School —Sponsor for the Essex County High School Football All-Stars —Sponsor for the Essex County Touch Football Pony Championship Team League —Sponsored 15 Classic Cars for the Annual East Orange Memorial Day Parade And sponsor of the James Moss (Junior Basketball Team) Top Shelf Athletics event.

Reginald D. Baker is a loving father of three (3) children: Reginald D. Baker, Jr., Raquel Carter, Ryan Baker and the honoured Grandfather of Six (6): Jada, Avery, Kennedy, Ray, Rylen, and Rayven. Special Recognition to Opal V. Newton and Virginia Pitchford.

Baker attributes his success to the following individuals who have served as his mentors: He wishes to express his gratitude to the following:  Dr. Stephen P. Waldman, Dr. Carla Miller, Attorney Michael Russo, Attorney Barry Austin, Attorney James Vasquez, Mr.Joeseph Giampa,Mr. Frederick Moore, Mr. Keith Hinton, Mr. Robert Lester, Mr.Thomas King, Mr. Leon Moss, Mr. Harry James. Mr.Henry Hamilton Mr.Hassan Ali, Mr. Michael (Dip) Dabney, Mr.James Pitchford, Dr.T. Koppel,  Ms.Yvonne Blake, and the East Orange High School Class of life (1974). You are truly the wind beneath my wings!!!

Melvin Feiler, D.D.S.


Dr. Melvin Feiler is a dentist, entrepreneur and a man of integrity. His intelligence and success have brought about many opportunities in his lifetime. Melvin was born and raised on the corner of Clinton and Hamilton streets in East Orange, NJ. He spent most of his time with friends Bill and Jack Holt and Steve Cowen. He was the captain on the varsity football team at Clifford Scott and loved to dance. His father was a well-respected man who owned and operated George’s Neighborhood Market. Dr. Feiler took the wealth of knowledge he acquired during his time in the East Orange school system and achieved success not only a Dentist but is also noted for being one of pioneers in changing the face of dentistry. Dr. Feiler graduated from The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1958. Shortly after dental school, he joined the United States Air Force and served his country for three years, rising to the rank of Captain. Most of his service was overseas, while being stationed in Korea and Japan. He returned state side in 1962, completing his obligation to our country, and began his own private dental practice. 

Dr. Feiler opened a small dental practice in Woodbridge, NJ, hanging his “shingle” and growing organically through word of mouth. His honesty and integrity drew a wide variety of patients through the practices’ doors. It was at this point that Dr. Feiler saw a void in our dental healthcare system - the need for affordable dental care for all individuals. He recognized that in the mid 1960’s there was a whole population of hardworking people that could not afford routine dental care. Dental insurance was not even a concept at this period of time, so Dr. Feiler took a risk and broke the mold in dentistry. He began offering exceptional dental care at much more affordable pricing. His practice took off and many more patients were smiling. The word spread that families could receive quality dental care at prices that were affordable. Since most of these patients worked for global and national employers like Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Motors and Merck, there was a need to expand his footprint throughout New Jersey and Michigan. He is not only known for servicing these many local communities with high quality healthcare, but also most notably known for creating the country’s first dental HMO for Ford Motor Company.

 Dr. Feiler built many strong relationships throughout his life and touched many different people along the way. He retired in 2016 leaving a company he built with many dedicated people that believed in his vision and stood by his side through the tough times. His company served countless communities consisting of 32 dental practices with over 900 employees. He has been married to his beautiful wife, Carol Ann for 49 years and is blessed to have two wonderful children, Aaron and Abbey. He currently resides in Colts Neck, NJ and enjoys spending time with his family, including his three Grandchildren, and traveling whenever he gets the opportunity. Every so often, Dr. Feiler goes back to the old neighborhood and reminisces about his time at Clifford Scott High School. He truly appreciates the valuable lessons he learned both in the classroom and from the neighborhood.

Virginia Fletcher


Virginia M. Fletcher of East Orange, (October 7, 1929 - December 13, 2002) earned a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Rutgers University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She was an active member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society. Virginia also received a Masters in Public Administration from New York University while working full time and raising a family. 

Virginia was dedicated to public service. She worked for the Housing Authority of East Orange from November 1963 to June 1975. As housing manager, she was responsible for the operation of three low rent housing developments: Family Health Care Center on Harrison Street, Vista Village Senior Citizen Center on Burnett Street, and Arcadian Gardens, the first housing complex in East Orange history, known by many as "Little City". 

Virginia devoted her unselfish efforts to ensuring the residents of East Orange community received needed health and housing services. She served as Vice Chairman of Essex Valley Healthcare Inc., Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Executive Board of East Orange General Hospital, Chairman of the Family Health Center, and Chair member of the Ambulatory Care Advisory Committee. Her long term dedication to the welfare of others earned her awards of honor from the Salvation Army, the Black Achievers Program of the YM/YWCA, Rutgers University, and the Community Council of the Oranges & Maplewood. 

Virginia was active in the United Way, Family Service Child Guidance Center, Youth Services Bureau, Salvation Army, The Mayor's Council on Senior Citizens in East Orange, The Orange Orphan Society, and she was the president of the East Orange School Districts PTA. She proudly carried the mantle of "Volunteer Extraordinaire". 

In 1974, Virginia was named East Orange Woman of the Year by Worrall Publications for her contributions and services as manager of the East Orange Housing Authority. 

Virginia was awarded with the Sojourner Truth Award for her active involvement in community activities in 1998 by The Negro Business and Professional Women's Club. She was also a lifetime member of the NAACP. 

Virginia retired from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as a Senior Property Representative. She was responsible for solicitations, sales presentations, and lease negotiations with major retail chains for consumer space in the Port Authority Bus Terminal, George Washington Bridge bus station, New York Truck terminal and Newark Liberty International Airport where she leased more business space in Terminal C to more minorities than any other airport terminal in the country. This opportunity made vendors very successful and they never forgot the opportunities she gave them. Virginia was a mentor to so many in our community, loved by friends, coworkers, and neighbors. 

Virginia M. Fletcher was married to the late Arthur Fletcher Jr., for 53 years, and had three sons, Mark, Paul, and the late Arthur III. 

Louis LaSalle


A graduate of Rutgers University with a BA in Accounting, an MBA in Finance, and a Certificate in International Finance from Seton Hall University, Louis LaSalle has proven to be a seasoned professional in all aspects of community, public, and governmental affairs. As the Vice President of External Affairs for Barnabas Health - Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey for more than two decades; Mr. LaSalle has been responsible for Community Relations, Audio Visual Communications, the Auxiliary and Gift Shop, as well as serving as a liaison to Government Affairs, Public Relations, and Development. 

In his new role, Mr. LaSalle will continue to be the liaison to Government Affairs, Public Relations and the Development Foundation, and will be instrumental in developing strategic corporate alliances for community health and wellness and will oversee health fairs and screenings, community symposia and a high-profile fundraising events such as the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Golf Opening, Saint Barnabas Medical Center Annual Gala and other community galas and events. 

Mrs. LaSalle has served as Chairman for numerous community organizations and committee such as the American Heart Association, Planning Board and Council of the Borough of Roseland, Essex County Parks Centennial Committee, and the Essex County “Save Turtleback Zoo“ Committee. He has also served and continues to serve as President of the Essex County Parks Foundation, liaison to the Township of Livingston Chamber of Commerce,  Millburn/Short Hills Chamber of Commerce, West Orange Chamber of Commerce, North Essex Chamber of Commerce, and on numerous boards of local Municipalities. He also is the Chairman of the Roseland Planning Board and continues to serve as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association, Northern Jersey region. 

Louis LaSalle has been recognized by his colleagues as a community-minded professional who is able to gather the best resources to help foster a sense of community spirit and a purpose to improve the health and well-being of New Jersey residents.

J.W. Pierson


James W. Pierson was born on June 17, 1927 and raised in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Mr. Pierson served in the Naval Air Corp from 1945 to 1946 and afterwards attended Amherst College where he was Captain of the track team. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in Economics.

Jim and his wife, Nancy resided in East Orange early in their marriage and eventually moved back to Glen Ridge to raise their family, where he served as President of the town Council. He has served on the Board of Directors of East Orange General and Mountainside Hospitals, as well as Immaculate Conception High School and as a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board.

James W. Pierson took the firm, originally a building material supplier, into heating and petroleum products after World War II. A long-time energy industry advocate, he has served as President of the Essex County Fuel Dealers Association, the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, Vice-Chairman of the Metropolitan Energy Council and has chaired the Heating Fuels Committee of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America.

Jim is the President of J.W. Pierson Co. of East Orange, New Jersey – the oldest remaining business in the City of East Orange since 1888. He is a member of the Montclair Golf Club.

Mr. and Mrs. Pierson now reside in Bernardsville, New Jersey. They have five (5) daughters: Amy, Katherine, Jennifer, Sally and Phoebe; ten (10) grandchildren and two (2) great-grandchildren.

Dr. Richard Thaler


Richard Thaler was born in East Orange, N.J. on September 12, 1945. He grew up in Chatham, and attended Newark Academy while it was still located in Newark. He attended Case Western Reserve University for his undergraduate degree in Economics and then the University of Rochester, obtaining a Ph.D. in Economics in 1974. 

Thaler has taught at the University of Rochester, Cornell, and since 1995, the Booth School of Business, University of Chicago where he is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics. He has written numerous academic articles and two best-selling books, Nudge (with Cass R. Sunstein) and Misbehaving. 

Richard is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Science, and is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and the American Finance Association. In 2015, he served as the President of the American Economic Association. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics.

He is married to France Leclerc, a former academic who is now a documentary photographer. He has three children, Gregory, Maggie and Jessie, and six grand-children.  


Performing Arts

Adegoke Steve Colson


Grammy® nominated pianist and composer - has performed internationally as a soloist and leader of jazz ensembles ranging from trios to orchestras. His work is recorded on labels that include Columbia/Sony, Evidence, and Black Saint. His Solo Piano recording Tones For, received international accolades including The Jazz Times Editor’s Choice. The Untarnished Dream – with Jazz Legends Andrew Cyrille and Reggie Workman, and wife and musical partner Iqua Colson was voted into the top 10 % of the International Jazz Critics Poll; and Hope for Love recorded with Iqua and great E.O. bassist, Andy McCloud was nominated for a Grammy®. Steve’s work has been discussed/reviewed in many languages in countless magazines, newspapers, periodicals, and several books.

Born September 4, 1949 to parents Clara and Roscoe Colson, Steve grew up on Princeton Street and attended Washington School, VLD, and East Orange High School. He always loved music but loves basketball almost as much, and was a regular at Washington, Elmwood and Rowley Parks playing in pick- up games and citywide tournaments. He credits his pursuit of music to his family and his esteemed piano teacher, Mr. Henry Smith. He auditioned into Northwestern University School of Music and left for the Chicago area after graduating EOHS in 1967. He met his future wife, Iqua, (a Chicagoan) while at N.U. and lived in Chicago after graduating. He and Iqua became early members of The Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a musicians’ collective recognized for influencing music internationally in the 20th and 21st Century. Moving to Jersey in 1982, they raised 2 sons in Montclair.

Organizations who commissioned his work include Meet The Composer, Doris Duke Foundation, AT&T, and Absolut Jazz. His pieces for band have become part of “jazz standard” repertoire performed and recorded by jazz greats. His unique compositional voice has been compared to Monk, Mingus, and Ellington as well as Ives, Berio, and Stravinsky. Some of his major works premiered in New Jersey include…as in a Cultural Reminiscence… first original work performed at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) during opening season; Lost Jazz Shrines, orchestrated and conducted stride master Willie “The Lion” Smith’s music for national project tied to U. S. Congressional Resolution declaring Jazz a “national treasure” – aired on PBS; Treasure the New City, in honor of 150th Anniversary of East Orange; NJPAC commissioned work dedicated to the 350th Anniversary of The City of Newark, Here Is The Place, Our City . Steve’s other on-screen performances include conducting his Jazz orchestra for Mezzo Channel in Europe; his role as “the piano player” in Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese’s HBO’s series, Vinyl; and the soon to be released documentary, “The Takeover – The Revolution of the Black Experience at Northwestern University.” in observance of 50th Anniversary of 1968 Takeover of N.U.’s Bursar’s Office. He was one of strategists who planned what has been called the most successful takeover of a major American University.  N.U. Library recently sent a request to start an archive of Steve’s work and artifacts.

Steve has performed on many the world’s leading stages headlining with innovators Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Max Roach, Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, and others.

David "Pic" Conley


David “Pic” Conley was born on December 27, 1953 in Newark, NJ. He was raised and educated in East Orange and attended Clifford J. Scott High School. Shortly after graduating high school, he purchased his first instrument, a flute, for $10 with the idea he sell it for double price. It was fate. Conley took the flute home and instead started playing it. Teaching himself how to play he has never put it down since. Conley began his professional career when he moved to Los Angeles with the group Port Authority of Music which included members David Townsend and Art McAllister in 1976 and by this time he had begun playing the saxophone. The group recorded an album produced by Ed Townsend, David Townsend's father. The group signed to 20 Century Records but the album was never released. He also played with a local group called the “Underground Movement” and many more. After the bands failure, Conley left to join the group “Mandrill” and they appeared on Soul Train in 1978. After quitting the group, he ventured back to East Orange to start all over again. 

David took a job with his father as a longshoreman and worked there until his father passed away and then, he eventually left the job. One of the main reasons he left the job was because he was becoming legally blind and couldn’t perform as well as he did when he could see. He started writing music with his longtime friend, David Townsend, and wrote a song called “Falling in Love” which needed a female vocalist to sing the demo. He auditioned Karen Copeland from East Orange to sing the demo eventually leading to a record deal with Sal Soul records. Conley became the founder of the Multi-Platinum Soul/R&B group Surface in 1983. The original group consisted of Conley and Karen Copeland. Townsend collaborated by writing and producing. In that same year, Surface released their debut single, "Falling in Love" performed by Copeland, which peaked at #84 on Billboard's Black Singles chart, staying on the chart for four weeks. In the U.K., the song peaked at #67 on the U.K. Singles chart. In addition, Surface recorded two more singles with her; "When Your Ex Wants You Back" and "Stop Holding Back". The group made two more singles with the record company and then broke up because of differences.

After Copeland left the group in 1984 Bernard Jackson and David Townsend replaced her by becoming the Surface we know today. More success came in 1985 when Conley became a staff writer for Screen Gems BMI. They started writing songs for groups such as New Addition, Sister Sledge, Gwen Guthrie, Isaac Hayes, Jermaine Jackson and many more of the leading singers of that time. Shortly after in 1986, Surface landed a record deal with Columbia leading them to release their debut album in 1987. In 1987, they got their first number one record called “Happy” which led to numerous number one records such as “Shower Me with your Love”, “You are my Everything”, “Closer than Friends”, “The First Time”, and 11 more top 10 records were also number one records by other artists as well. The album peaked at #55 on the Billboard 200 and #11 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart. In 1989, Surface released their second album, 2nd Wave which peaked at #56 on the Billboard 200 and #5 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart. The album was certified Platinum by the RIAA. The single "Shower Me With Your Love" peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, #3 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, and became Surface's second #1 R&B hit, topping Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart for a week in July 1989, staying on the chart for 20 weeks.

After the death of David Townsend, who was one of the charter members of Surface, the group faded and was not heard from for a while. David rebuilt the group in 2016 with a new vocalist from West Orange, named John Feva and their first CD was called “Re-surface, Where Have You Been”.

In 2018, David was religiously born again and created a new group called the “Holy Sounds of Surface”, His first CD called “Download from Heaven” and also renamed himself, “Prince David”. His contact info is all on his website called Surfaceresurface.com.

Gwen Guthrie


The renowned American songwriter and soul singing diva Gwen Guthrie is most remembered by the world for her so-called “ladies anthem” that she wrote in the mid-eighties entitled "Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent". That smash dance track, released on PolyGram Records captured international acclaim with its catchphrase: "No romance without finance. You need a J-O-B if you wanna be with me."

Over the course of her twenty-five year professional career, as East Orange’s own jewel of an artist and personality, she participated in the making of dozens of internationally recognized recordings as a songwriter, lead and/or background vocalist, beloved stage performer, producer and arranger. She also cultivated young talent in Essex County through her Children’s Matinee Workshop.  

Gwen was born in 1950 in Newark, New Jersey. From the tender age of eight, Gwen studied piano, music theory and harmony under the tutelage of her dad, Leonard Guthrie, who was, among other things, a jazz pianist and a devoted music lover.  She also performed in choirs and as a soloist at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Newark, NJ which was the home church of both her mother, Mabel Guthrie, and of the legendary jazz vocalist, Sarah Vaughn. Gwen also honed her musical and vocal talents in esteemed musical and vocal programs at East Orange High School in the late 70s; and she was a regular performer in the legendary talent shows at East Orange High School. 

This robust musical foundation would pave the wave for Gwen’s professional  songwriting and vocal performances and arrangements. Notably Gwen performed and created infectious vocal arrangements on the mega-hit by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, entitled “Back Together Again”. Angela Bofill warmed many hearts with a classic rendition of Gwen’s song “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter”; and Cuba Goodings Sr. launched a successful comeback with his recording of Gwen’s musical composition entitled “Supernatural Thing. Gwen became a star in the international reggae community when she wrote the hit “Nothing But Love” and recorded it with the legendary Peter Tosh, formerly of the Bob Marley’s group, the Wailers.

Gwen was all the rage amongst her accomplished peers and colleagues in the music industry including Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Ashford & Simpson, Phylis Hyman, George Benson, Luther Vandross and many others. Luther once proclaimed, “Gwen’s voice shines through so beautifully, it’s like pure crystal!” 

At East Orange High School in the 70s, Gwen formed her diva singing group  known as the “Ebonettes” and at Kean College, she joined and performed with  the  “The Matchmakers” alongside Larry Blackmon, who became the front-man for the internationally renowned group “Cameo”. Upon graduation from Kean, Gwen taught school for one year before she was contacted called by Whitney Houston’s mom, Cissy Houston to perform on a commercial jingle. Gwen soon became a premier commercial jingle singer. After she sang the hit song “Feelings” on an AT&T commercial jingle, she never looked back as the demand for her vocal and songwriting services soared.  

Quincy Jones recruited Gwen and produced a classic hit song entitled “Taking It To The Streets” that featured Gwen and Luther Vandross. Soon afterwards, Roberta Flack took Gwen with her on a worldwide live performance tour and insisted that Gwen perform her song “This Time I’ll  Be Sweeter” as the featured soloist in Roberta’s show. 

Ann Harding


Ann Harding was born Dorothy Walton Gatley at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in Texas, United States, on August 7, 1902. Her father was a career army officer named General George G. Gatley and her mother was Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Crabb. She had an elder sister named Edith. Due to an army background, she had to move around with her parents between various Army posts in the country from Illinois, Kentucky, Havana in Cuba, to New Jersey. During this time she attended 13 different schools before she was 13. After settling down in East Orange, New Jersey, she attended the ‘East Orange High School’ and graduated from the same. She studied drama at the ‘Baldwin School’ in Byrn Mawr, Pennsylvania for one year. While studying there, she acted in ‘Macbeth’ in the role of Macduff and Cornelia Otis Skinner played the role of Lady Macbeth. After graduation, Harding found employment as a script reader. She began acting and made her Broadway debut in Like a King in 1921. Ann moved to Rose Valley, Pennsylvania where she found her “home theatre”. Because her father opposed her career choice, she used the stage name Ann Harding. In 1929, she made her film debut in Paris Bound, opposite Fredric March. In, 1931, she purchased the Hedgerow Theatre building from Deeter for $5,000.00 and donated it to the company

Ann Harding was an American stage and film star who was very popular during the 1920s and the 1930's for her portrayal of sophisticated and aristocratic women in various plays and films. She was a petite woman with long blond hair which she kept tied like a bun at the nape of her neck. After moving to Hollywood to act in films, she became a highly sought-after actress as there were very few beautiful actresses in Hollywood who could deliver a line perfectly in front of the camera. Though she received one Oscar nomination for the ‘Best Actress’ category in 1930 for her starring role in the play ‘Holiday’, she did not win it. Harding’s performances were heralded by the critics, who cited her diction and stage experience as assets to the then-new medium of “talking pictures”. Ann’s second film, “Her Private Affair, was an enormous commercial success. She was considered to be one of cinema’s most beautiful actresses, with her waist-length blonde hair being one of her most noted physical attributes. Films during her peak include The Animal Kingdom, Peter Ibbetson, When Ladies Meet, The Flame Within and Biography of a Bachelor Girl”. She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - one in the Motion Picture section 6201 and one in the Television section 6850 Hollywood Boulevard.

Ann Harding was married twice, her husband’s being: Harry Bannister, an actor. They married in 1926 and divorced in 1932 in Reno, Nevada. Harding still loved her husband and she only agreed to the divorce to help Bannister’s stymied career. Only through dissolution of the marriage could he escape from being overshadowed by Ann’s rise to stardom. Together, they had a daughter, Jane Harding. Werner Jensen, the conductor. They married in 1937 and divorced in 1963 with Harding By this marriage, Harding had two step-children, Alice and Werner Jr. In the early 1960’s, Harding began living with Grace Kaye, an adult companion, later known as Grace Kaye Harding. Harding referred to Kaye as her daughter. On September 1, 1981, Harding died at the age of 79 in Sherman Oaks, California. Her urn was placed in the Court of Remembrance wall at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California. She was survived by a daughter and four grandchildren. 

Janice Ian


Janis Ian was born on April 7, 1951 in Farmingdale, NJ and spent her first five (5) years on a chicken farm there. She began playing the piano at age 2. In 1963, she wrote her first song “Hair of Spun Gold” and at age 12, “Hair of Spun Gold” was published in Broadside magazine. Ian played her first New York show at The Village Gate at age 13. Ian was educated in the East Orange School System.

Now in her fifth decade of writing songs and performing, Janis received her most recent Grammy nomination in 2016 for the self-produced “Patience & Sarah”, an audio book she produced and co-narrated with the actress Jean Smart (“Designing Women”.) This makes a total of 10 nominations in 8 different categories, a record for a solo artist whose first nomination came at the age of 16 for her debut album, “Janis Ian”. She lost this last Grammy to President Jimmy Carter, but two years earlier she’d received a Grammy for “Society’s Child: My Autobiography”, winning Best Spoken Word over stiff competition (President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, Rachel Maddow, and Ellen DeGeneres.) Accepting the award to a tumultuous standing ovation, Ian quipped “Well, this is a stunning upset… and I have to admit that when I saw the list of nominees, my first thought was ‘There’s got to be a joke in here somewhere. An ex-president, a First Lady, and three lesbians walk into a bar…’” On a more serious note, Ian said “We artists are the last alchemists, pulling your dreams, your hopes, your deepest desires out of thin air. We turn them into something you can hear, and play, and sing. So let us never forget this – we don’t sell music. We sell dreams.”   Ian has been in the forefront of too many controversial subjects to list here. Among others, her song “Society’s Child”, written at the age of fourteen, went on to ignite a storm among radio broadcasters and listeners for its unflinching look at the relationship between a black boy and a white girl. “At Seventeen” has been featured in everything from anti-bullying commercials to television shows like The Blacklist. At Montreux, Nina Simone said the song “Stars” was the only way she could express what she was feeling at that moment. Tennessee Williams wore out three copies of Between the Lines, Johnny Cash kept a copy of Janis’ poetry book in his personal library, and her article The Internet Debacle was the first major piece to come out in favor of downloading and Internet usage in the music industry. (Incidentally, at last count it had been re-printed on more than 5,000 sites in nine different languages, and provided testimony in the Napster and Grokster cases.) The prescient article correctly foretold the formation and rise of iTunes and Youtube, among others.

Janis also holds the distinction of hosting the first international Internet auction, in 1998, long before eBay or other auction sites came on the scene. The auction raised money for what became The Pearl Foundation, an IRS-approved charitable organization providing scholarships to “returning students”. It honors Janis’ mother, Pearl, who returned to college in her forties, hindered by Multiple Sclerosis, and went on to get her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The Foundation has no employees; everything but tax preparation is contributed or done by Janis and her wife, Pat (who likewise went back to school in her forties!) To date, it has given away more than 1 million dollars in scholarship funding, and seen more than 60 students graduate.

Naturi Naughton


Naturi Naughton stars opposite Omari Hardwick as “Tasha” in Starz Network’s #1 hit series “Power,” created by powerhouse producer/writer Courtney Kemp and executive produced by 50 Cent. Naturi is a two time recipient of the 2017 and 2018 NAACP “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series” award for her work on Power. 

Naturi is a singer and actress best known for her performances as Lil Kim in Fox Searchlight’s hit film “Notorious” and her role in MGM’s remake of the classic film “Fame”. Naughton has starred in various other projects including Warner Bros.’ “Lottery Ticket” where she starred opposite Loretta Devine, Ice Cube, Mike Epps, and Bow Wow. On the small screen, Naughton is known for her memorable guest performances on “Mad Men” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and her roles on “The Playboy Club” and “The Client List.” She also appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical, “Hairspray” for three years.

Before her transition into film and television, Naughton was a member of the Platinum selling pop trio 3LW. She was greatly inspired by Whitney Houston as a child and knew by the age of five that she wanted to be a singer and an actress. 

Naughton was born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey and attended Seton Hall University. She believes that her faith, tenacity and fearlessness will give her longevity and continue her prosperous career. 

Recently, Naughton was honored with top awards by WEEN Women Entertainment Executive Network, CIROC Women of Empowerment, Black Women Film Summit, and more…

Naturi currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York

Performing Arts

Steve Washington


Stephen Colston Washington AKA Steve Washington born in Newark, New Jersey to Colston and Bessie Washington and raised in East Orange New Jersey where he began his musical training at Stockton School in the fourth grade. He went to Rutledge Ave. middle school where he was also known as “LITTLE Stevie”. He joined the Exciting Williams Brothers Band of East Orange. Bessie Washington would take Steve to all James Brown performances where Stevie was able to go back stage and meet James Brown and Crew. After attending East Orange High School, The Exciting Williams Brothers Band opened up for “The Ohio Players” in Newark, NJ. The Ohio Players took a liking to Steve mainly because he could play Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks solos that he played on The Ohio Players hits like “Pain and Pleasure”. Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks had Stevie call him Uncle Ralph. Pee Wee gave Steve his clothing and showed Steve how to make a double bell Trumpet. Steve designed uniforms for the Williams Brothers and later for Slave. Steve traveled back and forth from East Orange to Dayton, Ohio as an Intern and understudy while they were doing tour dates. Steve became a horn tech for the Ohio Players and finished his last year of high school in Dayton, Ohio. Uncle Ralph AKA Pee Wee became Steve's legal Guardian.


In 1974, Pee Wee was in a car accident and had to get teeth implants so he was not able to play the trumpet anymore. Steve wanted to take Pee Wee’s position but The Ohio Players said Steve had to finish high school first and attend college. Steve, while in a magnet school program, met Mark "DRAC" Hicks and they started a band in 1975 which became the group known as SLAVE. Steve co-produced, arranged and co-wrote songs for Slave. Steve was named “The Fearless Leader” by Drac's father. Steve wanted The Ohio Players to produce Slave but The Ohio Players passed on Slave. Steve had played events while being a member of the Exciting Williams Brothers Band for Jeff Dixon, while Jeff was Program Director for WNJR radio station. The Exciting Williams Brothers Band recorded at the House of Music in West Orange, New Jersey. After The Ohio Players passed on Slave, Steve contacted Charlie and Irene Conrad, owners of The House of Music. Charlie and Irene allowed Steve to record a demo that was played for Jeff Dixon. Slave was signed August 31, 1976 by Jeff Dixon and Atlantic/Cotillion Records. Steve was the leader of Slave until 1980 with 2 Gold records. Steve recruited Starleana Young, Curt Jones, Kenny Johnston, David "Pic" Conley and Drew Sadler. Steve left Slave and formed “Aurra”, an offspring of Slave backup musicians including Curt Jones and Starleana Young with Steve Arrington. Steve Washington produced Steve Arrington's first solo single. Steve, The Fearless Leader, left Aurra in 1984 and married Sheila Horne, one of “The Brides of Funkenstein”. Steve went on to co-produce and write for George Clinton of “Parliament Funkadelic”.


Michael Booker


Michael L. Booker Mike was educated in the East Orange Public School System. The East Orange native is a highly-respected executive in the gaming industry. Most noteworthy is his 38 year – tenure as a Casino Manager at Harrah’s Atlantic City.  He is a day one team member who was recognized in 1998, with the company’s highest honor: “Chairman’s Award” for community service.  He was the co-founder of Operation H.E.L.P (Harrah’s Employees Love People).  The committee is comprised of over 100 team members who became actively involved with many local non-profit organization including Habitat for Humanity.

As a gifted and talented basketball player and athlete — his career achievements are prodigious  He began his high school career starting as a freshman on an undefeated JV team that won the Big Ten conference and JV county championship.  He started varsity his sophomore year under Coach Robert Lester and led the team in rebounding and averaged over 10 points a game.  East Orange lost to Central in the Essex County Championship but went on to win the 1973 Group 3 State Championship 68-54 against North Burlington High School finishing number four in the Star-Ledger poll with a 25-5 record.


During his junior year, Mike was named co-captain and helped lead East Orange to an Essex County Championship when they beat an undefeated Orange team 76-72. The 1975 team was referred to as the East Orange Express scoring over 100 points in eight games including four games in a row early in the season.  East Orange won the Big Ten and Essex County Championship with a win over an undefeated Essex Catholic 92-85, which is still the highest scoring game in ECT history.  East Orange was finally derailed in the State final by Lakewood 72-71, snapping a 39 game winning streak and denying EO a fourth straight State Championship. 

Mike received a full basketball scholarship to attend Northern Illinois University to play in the Mid-American Conference. He started 12 games during his freshman year at Northern Illinois University before transferring back home in 1977 to play for Coach Richie Adubato at Upsala College in East Orange, NJ. Upsala made it to the Division 3, NCAA tournament all three years he played. He was named “captain” his last two years. Mike led the team in scoring his junior year with an 18 point per game average.  He was selected First Team All-East during his junior season. He had a career high 34 points in a loss to Stony Brook University his senior year.  Mike became the sixth player to score a thousand points at Upsala and finished his career scoring 1233 points. Mike graduated from Upsala College in 1980 with a degree in Business Administration. 

Thomas Dean


Tom Dean graduated from Sidwell Friends School in 1947 and attended Bucknell University.  He was the quarterback of the 9-0 1951 Bucknell football team, and he became the fourth member of that team’s offensive backfield to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

After graduation, Tom found his passion again in football…but this time as a coach.   He began coaching in Pennsylvania. He also coached in Maryland.  But, it was his coaching stint at a Group IV high school in New Jersey that solidified his legacy.

Tom Dean became the Head Football Coach at East Orange High School in 1960.  During his first season he defeated a ranked Orange football team that went 8-1.  For the next few years, East Orange would post multiple win seasons playing against some of New Jersey’s top programs in Belleville, Nutley, Montclair, and Phillipsburg.  Then, in 1963, with High School All-American Jim Oliver, Coach Dean earned his first New Jersey #1 ranking.   The victory against Montclair that year is said to be one of the best New Jersey high school football games ever played. 

In 1967, East Orange was ranked #1 and undefeated as it entered its traditional Thanksgiving Game against Barringer High School.  The game was played in a torrential down pour, and ended in a 13-13 tie.  However, based on the Panther’s wins over ranked teams Montclair and Phillipsburg that year…Coach Dean was awarded his second New Jersey #1 ranking.  

The following year, in 1968, the Panthers posted an undefeated season earning Coach Dean his third New Jersey #1 ranking in five years.  East Orange would be one of a few programs in New Jersey history to win Back to Back State Football Championships in 67’ and 68’, and Tom Dean would go on to earn numerous awards and recognition for his coaching success.

Throughout the years Coach Dean remained in close contact with his East Orange players.  Often catching a train from Maryland to join them in triumph and tragedy.  He remains as one of the most notable figures in New Jersey football history.

Chris Fletcher


Christopher “Chris” Fletcher was born on December 25, 1948 in Morristown, New Jersey. He and his brother, the late Kevin Fletcher, completed their early education in Madison, NJ and Morristown, NJ before their family moved to East Orange. 

Chris attended East Orange High School and was a member of the Track and Football teams. Chris’ passion dedication to football enabled him to play both ways: offense and defense. Chris graduated in the EOHS Panther “Class of 1966”. He received a scholarship to Temple University. In 1970, Chris was drafted in the 9th round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played seven (7) seasons with the Chargers from 1970-1976. During his career he amassed 13 interceptions including one which he returned for a touchdown.

After football, Chris worked for 10 years as a Regional Sales Manager for Johnson-Wax. Although he is a New Jersey native, Chris enjoys fishing and warm weather. He has one son named Christopher.

Charles Hinton


Charles Hinton exemplified skill, speed, and athleticism, distinguishing himself both on and off the gridiron. As a remarkably talented running back deluxe player, his coaches often described Hinton as “all-everything “, including “All-American”. An explosive runner, Charles Hinton, was named by the Star-Ledger as one of the running backs of the decade. He was named to the All-County, All-State and All-American Teams. After graduating from East Orange High School in 1969, Charles led the Arizona Western College Matadors to a 9-0 record, a No.2 National Ranking, and the Championship of the Arizona Junior College Conference. After participating in the Shrine Bowl in Savannah, Georgia, Charles Hinton was recruited to USC, where he became a key member of the Trojans 1972 National Championship Team coached by John McKay.  As noted by author Bill Block “An Immortal Team of Mortal Men”, Hinton showed the nation what a “Jersey “ East Orange football player could do! Charles was a hybrid! McKay played Charles in both offense and defense. In the 1972 Rose Bowl, USC both undefeated and untied, Charles (Sugarbear) Hinton was stellar! He was then invited to play in a starter position on the 1972 College All-Stars, who played against the undefeated-untied Miami Dolphins. From Charles’s point of view, the mind-set of the Team is that you approach each game as a business. Subsequently, after professional careers in both the NFL (Broncos) and the WFL (Portland Storms), Hinton joined major Fortune 500 consumer product companies including: Johnson& Johnson, Durkee Foods, Scott Paper, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi Co. as a Regional Sales and Marketing Manager covering the West Coast and Alaska. He also has given numerous motivational speeches, mentoring young athletes in Arizona and Portland. Charles enjoys seeing the passion in their eyes and the joy for the sport. Charles Hinton lives with his wife, Cynthia, in California. They have four adult children and eight grandchildren.

Robert "Bob" Lester


He was one of the most dominant coaches in New Jersey high school basketball history. Bob Lester’s professional teaching career began in September 1969-1977, at East Orange High School.  Subsequently, Bob started his interscholastic coaching career in 1971-72 as the Head Boys’ Basketball Coach.  It is to his credit that Coach Bob Lester won the NJSIAA Section Championship, 8 times.  As East Orange High School’s Head Coach, “Bob” secured the most consecutive wins (39), captured the best 2 season record (56-1) and is a 7 time winner of the Essex County Tournament Championship.  During his tenure with the Panthers, Coach Lester participated in the Essex County Tournament as finalists (10 times in 16 years). His teams were the Conference Champions (8 times), Conference Runners-up (5 times), Nationally-ranked three times (1974-75) (1975-76) (1976-77) and Bob Lester was named 5 times as Coach-of-the-Year! His 6-year record at East Orange High School is 159-19. 

In 1985 and 1989, Coach Lester was recognized and awarded by the Essex County Freeholders for Outstanding Coaching Efforts, selected as the Basketball Coach of the Year by Star Ledger; in 2003, chosen as Essex County Basketball Coach of the Half Century by Worrell Publication and acknowledged, in 2004, as Retired Essex County Coach of the Year.  Coach Lester has been elected to: The Montclair State College Athletic Hall of Fame (1981), the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame (2003), Ft. Scott (Kansas) Community College Hall of Fame (2005) and the NJSIAA Athletic Hall of Fame (2010). 

Bob Lester relocated to Atlantic City, New Jersey where he was a Teacher and Boys’ Varsity Basketball Coach from 1977-1979.  During the years (1979-2003), Bob Lester became a Teacher/Counselor and coached the Boys’ Varsity Basketball, Cross-Country and Girls’ Volleyball teams at Montclair High School. He retired from coaching at Montclair High School in 1989. Bob Lester ended his 18-year interscholastic coaching career with a record of 374 wins and 98 losses.  His overall interscholastic basketball coaching accomplishments include: winning the NJSIAA State Championships (4 times), NJSIAA State Runner-up (3 times) and NJSIAA State Finalist (7 times).  


Coach Robert “Bob” Lester attended Central High School in Newark, NJ (1962-64). He was the starting center for the 1963-64 NJSIAA Group IV State Championship Basketball Team that finished with a 26-1 winning record and ended their season as the number 1 team in the State of New Jersey.  After graduation from high school, Bob Lester attended and graduated from Ft. Scott Jr. College (1966) and Montclair State College (1969).

Larry Shumacher, Sr.


Born in Rich Square, North Carolina, Larry Schumacher Sr. lived most of his life in East Orange, New Jersey. He attended Stockton and Columbian Public Schools in East Orange and was a graduate of Bishop Walsh Essex Catholic High School. Larry was a natural athlete, while attending Essex Catholic, he excelled lettering in 3 sports; Basketball, Football and Track & Field for which he held a state record for 20 years in shot put and discus. He was named 1st Team-All City and All State. Larry was awarded the prestigious “Men of Essex Award” as the outstanding scholar athlete in Essex County ’66. Larry was recruited by 60 different colleges. His choice was the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana. As a member of the Fighting Irish football team at Notre Dame, Larry’s accomplishments included the Herring Award, New Jersey’s Selected All-American, Independent Colleges All-American, Midwest All-American and was their first black football defensive captain. Larry graduated with a B.S. in Economics and M.S. in Counseling Psychology.

Larry served as an Assistant Coach in 1970 at Notre Dame, was named Essex Coach of the Year by the East Orange Record in 1992 and 1996, and the Star Ledger in 1992 and 1996. In 1997, was named Coach of the Year by the East Orange Irish Association. He was inducted into the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame, Essex Catholic Foundation Hall of Fame, received the Notre Dame Centennial Award, and appointed as Honorary Head Coach of the North-South Football Classic. Larry also served as Head Football Coach at the following high schools in New Jersey: Clifford J. Scott, Essex Catholic, Summit, Central and as the first Head Coach at East Orange Campus.

Larry worked with the Medger Evers College, Summit, Newark and East Orange School Districts, and the Essex County Vocational School. He served as a Senior Manager with Munford & McGrady, Inc., in Newark, NJ and as a Career Education Counselor with the State Department of Education. In 1998, Larry was appointed by the Honorable Robert L. Bowser, Mayor of the City of East Orange, New Jersey, to serve as a City Official in the position of Director of Recreation & Cultural Affairs, which he held until his passing on September 4, 2010.

Larry was the Co-Founder/Administrator of the Annual Paul Robeson Football Classic. He was the only member of the Men of Essex Organization who was also a recipient of the Men of Essex Award. Larry served on the Essex Catholic High School Foundation and as a member of the Notre Dame Monogram Club.

Schumacher achieved distinction as the First African-American defensive captain in Notre Dame Football. Larry's career and life's work were dedicated to the enrichment and development of youth through academic and athletic achievement. So as a memorial, the Larry C. Schumacher, Sr. Student Athlete Scholarship Foundation (LCSSSASF) was formed. The Foundation’s mission is to support the higher education aspirations of deserving student athletes from Essex County High Schools.


Raquel Vassell


A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Racquell Vassell rose to become one of New Jersey’s most promising student-athletes in the state and the nation. During her senior year, Vassell was named top performer of the week in the county and the state representing East Orange Campus High School. At the Essex County Championship she won four gold medals and broke three meet records in the same day. Vassell was the defending state Meet Champion in the hurdles both indoor and outdoor. At the completion of her senior year, Racquel Vassell had established herself as one of the most dominant high school track & field performers on the national scene.

In the spring of 2007, Vassell received a full scholarship to Hampton University in Hampton, VA. College was a bitter-sweet experience for Racquell because success once did not come easily. Vassell’s freshman year of college was her coming out story. She was one of the top performer’s in her conference and on the East Coast at the end of her outdoor season. During the indoor season of her sophomore year, she established a name for herself. At this point Vassell thought she was making strides towards becoming one of Hampton University’s top performers both at the conference and national level but the course changed. In the outdoor season of the same year going into her junior year of the track and field season, success was elusive. She had tremendous success in the long jump from her freshman into her senior year. In her final year of college, Vassell ran a personal best in the 60 meter hurdles and jumped a personal best in the long jump as well. 

Racquell Vassell is currently a dedicated Minister serving at The Rock Place where she’s a school teacher. Vassell still enjoys working out because she loves running track. She gives thanks to God for the wonderful opportunities she had through track and field. She thanks her parents, siblings, extended family and coaches for their continuous support. She gives a special thank you to her step-father who granted her the opportunity of a lifetime by making it possible for her to migrate to the United States and therefore paving the way for her success. 

Raquell's extraordinary career achievements include: 2005 Essex County Champion (indoor); 2006 Essex County Champion (indoor and outdoor); 2006 3rd in the Nation in 4 x 200 meter (indoor); 2006 The Men of Essex Track Athlete of the Year; 2007 Essex County Athlete of the Year; 2007 All-Around Performer of the Year; 2007 NJ Meet of Champions (indoor and outdoor hurdles; 2007 Finalist: Gatorade Athlete of the Year; 2007 5th in the Nation in 55 meter hurdles (indoor); 2007 The Men of Essex Athlete of the Year; 2008-2009 MEAC Outstanding Performer (indoor and outdoor 2010 New Balance Collegiate Invitational Winner (long jump); 2011 16th in the Nation in 60 meter hurdles (indoor); 2011 2nd Team All-American (NCAA)

Troy Webster


Troy Webster grew up playing basketball in Elmwood Park where his basketball skills were developed by the likes of his father, Leon Webster; Harry James, George Ramsey, Lou Miles, Bill Oliver and countless others.  Troy attended Our Lady of the Valley High School where they won the County and State Championships. He graduated from Clifford J. Scott High School in 1982 after leading the school to two back-to-back State Basketball Championships. Troy went on to graduate from George Washington University in Washington, DC with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications before he was drafted by the New Jersey Nets Basketball Team. Troy’s time with the New Jersey Nets was cut short by a career ending knee injury. 

 Since then, Troy has been very successful in construction and development even after carving out the five years of dedicated service to the City of East Orange. From 2008 to 2013, Troy served as Zoning Officer, Ombudsmen of Redevelopment, City Business Administrator and Aide to Mayor Robert Bowser.  

 Troy has been married to Siobhan Webster for 30 years, has two children and two granddaughters.

Lance Wigfall


Lance T. Wigfall became one of the top 400-meter runners in the state of New Jersey as well as the Country during his career at East Orange Campus High School. He broke the New Jersey Indoor  State record in the 400 with the time of 47.19 and held it for eight years. Wigfall won State Titles three times in the 400 meter dash, along with multiple Championships in  Essex County,  as well as in the Iron Hill Conference .

After high school Lance decided to further his education at Montclair State University as well as continuing his athletic career under the late Gerald “Beenie” Benson. Upon the conclusion of his freshman year at MSU, and talking with family members and different mentors, Lance transferred to Lincoln University of Pa., to complete his Bachelors of Science in Health and Physical Education. Lance also competed under the leadership of the NCAA Hall of Fame Coach Cyrus D. Jones. During his career at Lincoln University, he became a 16 - time All-American in College, with combined performances both Montclair State and Lincoln University. Wigfall, a 3-time New Jersey Meet of Champions 400 meter winner in high school and a multiple college All-American, has quickly shown that he is just as impressive as a coach as he was as a record-breaking sprinter. 

After coaching stints at Lincoln High School in Jersey City for one year, and at Weequahic High School  in Newark for four years, Wigfall returned to his alma mater at East Orange Campus High School as head cross-country coach and assistant track coach in 2013. Wigfall then became the head track and field coach at East Orange Campus H.S. during the 2015-2016 indoor track and field seasons, and promptly led the Jaguars into being one of the best programs in the country.  

Wigfall’s coaching accomplishments are nothing short of impressive: : He is a three - time Group 4 Indoor Track and Field State Champion (2015,2017,2018); He was selected New Jersey Coach of the Year in 2016, 2018; Seven - time National Champs (Three times during the winter track and field season and  four times during the spring track and field season); He also was selected six – times as  Coach of the year by the Essex County Coaches Association; Six – times Group 4 Section 2  State Champs (Two - times during the winter track and field season, and four times during the spring track and field season); six - times Essex County Champs (two – times during the winter track and field, and four times during the spring track and field season); a five - times Super Essex Conference Champion (two-times during the winter track and field, three-times  during the spring track and field season); Fastest American team at the Penn Relays two years in a row 2017 &  2018; Undefeated season during the 2018 winter season ranking as #1 in the State of New Jersey and only taking one loss during the 2018 spring track and field season, during the NJSIAA Group 4 State Championship. 

During the day you can find Coach Wigfall walking the halls of East Orange Campus H.S. as the In - School Suspension Coordinator, encouraging students to continue the academic road of success by always telling them to “ See It Through”.