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Remembering George Danner

Ed Houck, Jr.

My wife and I were saddened to read of the passing of George Danner, a family friend from the time we met. George married Nancy Gerken near the same time my wife and I were married in the early 50’s. Nancy and I were school mates from the first grade at St. Euphemia’s until graduating high school at St. Josephs High. We spent time with George and Nancy, John and Theresa Hollinger at get-togethers and attended Baltimore Colts football games in Baltimore.

While reading his obituary, a thought came to mind that George had accomplished even more than was listed. On his return from the service and taking his position as manager of the American Grocery Store that was formerly Harners Store, he became very active in all sorts of civic activities. He was one of the original members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce when it was reactivated in Emmitsburg and served on many committees and fund raising events. 

In the mid 50’s, he and I met with Frank Waster, who was the former Scoutmaster that was inactive due to the lack of assistants. We both volunteered to become Asst. Scoutmasters. 

In the mid 50’s, he and I met with Frank Waster, who was the former Scoutmaster that was inactive due to the lack of assistants. We both volunteered to become Asst. Scoutmasters. 

 The three of us had an active troop with about 30 boys from Emmitsburg. We spent time hiking, camping and working on a vast number of merit badges. Camping was done at our own camp on a farm between Emmitsburg and Fairfield, and at the Council Camps. A number of boys went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. We hiked the Appalachian Trail and also did some mystery hikes using only a map and compass to reach our goal. George and the Scouts also took part in some of the Horse Shows that were held near town and were responsible for putting up the large tents and assisted with parking.

It was on one such a hike and overnight on the Appalachian Trail between Christmas and New Years that the temperature went to just 4 above zero and we had about 8 inches of snow on the ground.. We had about 7 scouts that wanted to take part. About three o’clock in the morning and the call of nature comes, the boys began to get up and build the fire and start some oatmeal to keep warm. George slept on. About an hour later when everyone was back in their sacks and warm again, George woke and said he would get up only when he smelled the coffee aroma. Sure enough at the first scent of coffee he was up and ready to get things organized and we all had a good breakfast, thanks to George. He would carry a small trumpet to play taps at night and to rouse the scouts in the morning.

George, Frank and I were also responsible for bringing a large Circus to town in the fifties, that was held in Stansbury’s field just southwest of the square for the benefit of the Lions Club projects and the Boy Scout camping fund. The Circus gave the community one more great activity to enjoy. George was also instrumental in organizing the welcome back celebration on the square for the Mount St. Mary's Basketball Team when they won the NCAA Small College championship. He served as MC and praised Jim Phalen and his crew for their accomplishment.

During the Emmitsburg Bi-centennial in 1957, George was one of the most active citizens and dressed for the week in the period costume of 1757. His picture, along with Katie Warthan and Tom Gingell, was shown in the Baltimore American newspaper in June of 1957. He was active in all the programs and the large parade that was held.

George, along with myself, John Hollinger, Ron Kelly, Mamie Kelly and Ernest Rosensteel were the group that saw the need and opened the Motion Picture Theater in town after it had been closed for a number of years. It served the community until the mid 1960’s and even featured some live entertainment such as Rock and Roll Bands and visits from the members of the kiddie theme park of Gettysburg. During the Christmas shopping period, the Movie Theater would have special free kiddie shows so the parents would have time to shop without them.

I remember serving with George in the Fire Company and in the American Legion. Where he was an active officer and a very sharp member of the Legion Honor Guard. Those were great years and great memories of a truly great guy. On moving my family from the area in the early sixties, we had only periodic contacts and now I find myself wishing we could have spent more time together. But, I know that he will always be remembered by the young men that he influenced in Scouting, for I see their names come up so often in the Dispatch and know they continue to be the active great citizen that George was. We miss him but his legacy lives on.

Do You have your memories of George Danner? 
If so, e-mail them to us at history@emmitsburg.net

Read other stories by Ed Houck

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