Oktoberfest 2023: Honoring Lovettsville’s Distinguished Residents

By Michael Zapf

Honoring Lovettsville’s Residents of Distinction has been a feature of the Oktoberfest for several years. The task of selecting and inviting the honoree had been the task of the late and former mayor Elaine Walker.  The honorees typically were selected from the oldest citizens of the town.  This year the task of nominating one or several distinguished citizens fell upon the member emeritus of the Oktoberfest Committee who also serves on the board of directors of the Lovettsville Historical Society, Michael Zapf.  

10 candidates to be honored:  Mrs. Grace Hummer, Fred Lee and Anne George, Roland and Nancy England, Nancy Orndorff, Henry and Debbie Pearson, Dottie and Harold Gladstone.  The spouses were included because they are inextricably worthy of the honor being bestowed.

Lovettsville Town Council presents Distinguished Residents Awards: Those present, left to right, are Council Member Joy Pritz, Awardees Nancy Orndorf and Nancy England, Mayor Chris Hornbaker, Awardee Roland England, and Council Members Tom Budnar and David Earl.

Distinguished Residents 2023

2023 is an auspicious year for Lovettsville and the German Settlement heritage, an occasion to recognize people whose lives are part of the fabric and traditions of this community.  Each in their own way have contributed the threads that hold Lovettsville, the German Settlement together as a community.

Grace Hummer (pictured with son Steve)

Richard and Grace Hummer moved into what the columnist Russell Baker described as a “huge white wedding cake” or the “Sears, Roebuck house” inLovettsville in 1966 with their son, Steve and daughter.  In 1982 Richard was elected mayor and Grace to town council. The following year, 1983 was the Tricentennial of the first German Settlement in America and commemorated byPresidential Proclamation by Ronald Reagan and Governor Robb.  The anniversary inspired Grace Hummer, then Lovettsville Town Council woman and wife of the mayor, the late Richard Hummer, to propose, promote and organize “A Celebration of Heritage” that has become the renowned and signature event of this community and has been designated “Best in Loudoun” attracting thousands of visitors from across the country.  The scope of Mrs. Hummer’s vision included A German Band Concert, waltz and polka dance contests, craft sales and demonstrations, a children’s folk concert, the German supper and the cornerstone closing at St. James church.  Grace Hummer’s vision has expanded and continues to this day as we celebrate another Oktoberfest. 2023 is now the 340th anniversary of the first German settlement in America. The Town of Lovettsville and the Lovettsville Oktoberfest Committee are pleased to finally recognize, honor and thank Grace Hummer for her service to the Town of Lovettsville on this 40th Anniversary of “A Celebration of Heritage,” the first official Lovettsville Oktoberfest.

Roland and Nancy England

2023 also marks anotheranniversary, the 290th of the founding of St. James United Church of Christ, formerly known as the German Reformed Church.  Its members under the leadership of Elder WilhelmWenner settled in the Loudoun Valley and established “the German Settlement” a century before Lovettsville appeared on the map.  This was the Reverend Roland England’sfirst church just out of seminary.  In 1983 Roland and his wife Nancy, with Elaine Walker as chairperson, they the St. James congregation and indeed the entire town in celebration of 250 years.  We are pleased that Roland and Nancy are with us again on the 290thanniversary of the congregation.  Roland and Nancy have dedicated their lives to their Maker and to serving the people of Lovettsville, the German Settlement of the Loudoun Valley, Brunswick MD, Winchester, and at old St. Paul’s church at Neersville, Between the Hills, as spiritual guides and civic leaders. Nancy was a partner and homemaker, a church volunteer, a volunteer for Lovettsville Elementary School.  She took up nursing as a second career, employed by Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg and Loudoun Inova Hospital in Lansdowne for a total of 24 years. They raised their two sons here and both volunteered in youth sports programs. Although the Englands have retired to Boonsboro MD now, they are continually present in the life of this community. They have woven grace, peace, and civility into the fabric of our lives.

Dottie and Harold Gladstone

On the occasion of the St. James anniversary 40 years ago Pastor England opened the metal box, a time capsule from the cornerstone that had been placed therein 1901.  Dottie and Harold Gladstone were there to witness the occasion.  The couple and their family are longtime residents.  Dot is a direct descendant of Wilhelm Wenner, the pioneer elder of the Reformed Church.  The Gladstones have been and continue to be active in the life of the community.  Dot has authored a book for children, “Murphy, the little frog who wanted to read” and “A China Adventure” a memoire of Dot’s parent’s missionary journey to China on the eve of World War II.  Harold an electrical engineer by profession, served as the Lovettsville Union Cemetery superintendent for 22 years, and is the resident genealogy authority on the Booth and Mann families.They restored the old Mann homestead near Dutchman’s Creek and the old Booth family burial ground on the property.   “My contribution was to help raise 3 kids”, Dot wrote.  “They were my life as well as the church.”  This simple statement reveals the truth that has and holds the families and this community together.

Nancy Orndorff

​Was born and raised in Lovettsville.  At time when young women in athletics attracted little attention or were ignored altogether, Nancy was a star player on the women’s basketball team.  She went on to coach girls’ Senior Babe Ruth softball teams, Women’s League basketball, volleyball and girls’ gymnastics. In 1974 she became the first manager of the Lovettsville Community Center.  She oversaw its restoration after the devastating fire of November 1976. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with the love and support of her husband and family, Nancy coached and mentoredseveral generations of young people at the community center by creating a welcoming and safe venue for sports. after school activities, and day care.  She led bus trips. She planned senior citizen dinners and recreational activities; established a pre-school, organized, craft fairs, community dances, and hosteddiners including the traditional Oktoberfest diner sponsored by the Lovettsville Lions Club.  Nancy has been called “the rock of the community center.”   Since her retirement in 1994, Nancy continues an active life among her family and in the community and her church.

Fred Lee George III and Anne DeCourcey George

Fred Lee George III and Anne DeCourcey George might be dubbed the “Power Couple” of Lovettsville.  Fred has also been called the unofficial mayor of Lovettsville.  He is a lifelong resident of the community, the scion of a family that has been an influence in the community since the beginning. He is the proud third generation of five generations of former B&O now CSX railroad men.  He and Anne are a get-your-hands-dirty, hardworking, look-for-opportunities-to-enhance-the quality-of-life-of-the-community team. When work needs to be done, when a neighbor needs a hand, they pull down old sheds, cut dead trees, paint, mow, bulldoze, and forklift.  On their own initiativethey have invested resources to renovate and restorehistoric properties.

They touch a myriad of activities in Lovettsville: TheLovettsville Game Protective Association, the Lovettsville Historical Society and Museum, the Lovettsville Oktoberfest, and St. James United Church of Christ.  They host picnics, bus trips and fund raisers. Most importantly they care for the people and heritage of this community and for the welfare of generations to come.

Henry and Debbie Pearson

Henry Pearson was born and raised in Lovettsville VA and is a lifelong resident.  He graduated from Loudoun Valley High School and started his career as a line foreman with Tri-County Electric, now known as NOVEC.  Henry retired from NOVEC in 2006 after 38 years of service. He is married to Debbie, and they have 2 daughters (both residents of Lovettsville) and 5 grandchildren.  Henry coached the Lovettsville Babe Ruth and Lovettsville Girl’s Softball teams for many years.  He was well known for his skill in men’s softball and has played on many local teams, well into adulthood. He is a life member of the Lovettsville Game Protective Association and has volunteered many hours helping with community events, carnivals, and fishing derbies.  Henry started working for the Town of Lovettsville in 2008 hired by Keith Markel and Elaine Walker. He takes pride in his work making Lovettsville a town to be proud of, by helping decorate the town, assisting with parades, setting up special town events, and getting the tree ready for the annual tree lighting ceremony.  Henry has seen many changes over the years, realizing change is inevitable.  He enjoys gardening and hunting. His favorite pastime is spending time with his family, especially his grandkids. You will always find Henry with a smile on his face and willing to offer a helping hand.

In Conclusion

The quality of a community is determined by its fabric, the life threads of generations woven into the landscape.  The early settlers in this valley began the weaving process, one life at a time, some in joy, others in pain, anguish, and anger.  Once they were not a people.  They were strangers in a new land.  But now they are a people, a community made up of familieslike the Hummers, the Englands, the Gladstones, the Orndorffs, the Georges, and the Pearsons whose everyday lives, visions, hopes, cares, skills, and faithshave created the rich tapestry that we now call home. We honor them for whom they are, for being among us, and for touching our lives.