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Morningside-Skyline column for Feb. 3

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Mary McHale

Published on: Wednesday, February 02, 2011

By Mary McHale

Remembering the First Teacher in Space

On Jan. 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center. I recall all too well the phone call from a neighbor yelling at me to turn on the TV, then the frenzied voice of the announcer, and the showing, over and over again, of the launch and the shuttle breakup. 

Seven astronauts died — Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik and Christa McAuliffe.

Christa McAuliffe had been highly publicized as the chosen candidate for NASA’s “Teacher in Space Project.” She was chosen from among 10 finalists. Several years before the tragedy, she had earned her master’s degree in education at Bowie State. She taught English and Social Studies in Prince George’s County Public Schools for seven years, while her husband Steve was a law clerk for state Sen. Steny Hoyer. 

Benjamin D. Foulois Middle School in Morningside was the first school where she taught. She taught there from 1971 to 1973. At the time of the tragic accident, she was a teacher at a school in New Hampshire where her class was watching the launch.


Morningsiders will be going to the polls May 2 to elect two Town Council members. Those interested in running must submit a petition to have their names placed on the ballot. The petitions must be turned in no later than 5 p.m. March 7 at Town Hall.   

Robbie Woods, son of former Morningsiders Lewis and Trisha Woods, was accepted in Local 602 Steamfitters School last year and his twin, John Woods, may be accepted this year. (The school does not enroll siblings in the same year.)   

Jean Ihrig, formerly of Skyline, reports that she backpacked through Europe for “six weeks and a day.” She used hostels and bed-and breakfasts and had a wonderful time. Jean is a recent college graduate and now lives in Florida.

It has been a wild week of snowstorms that stranded motorists for hours, left about 400,000 people without power and cancelled schools. At this writing, my daughter Elaine, in Crownsville, is still in the dark as are many in Camp Springs.

Then there was the water main break on Jan. 24 at Central Avenue that flooded and froze the Beltway, shutting it down during the morning commute. The break forced me and thousands of others to boil water for washing dishes, cooking, drinking and tooth-brushing for three days.

Suitland High reunion

Peg Richardson sends word that Gailen David is trying to get a 50-year reunion going for the Suitland HS Class of 1961. He needs help locating the alumni.  His email is

Ticky-Tacky Tea Party benefit

Men, women and children of all ages are invited to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post on Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. for an afternoon of games, raffles, snacks, information-sharing and just plain old-fashioned fun while raising money to help find a cure for cancer. The Ticky-Tacky Tea Party is a fund-raiser to benefit Cancer Aid & Research. 

Cancer touches everyone’s life—whether you have it yourself, or you know someone who does. So, come to the VFW, at 6527 Suitland Road in Morningside. By the way, this is a tea party.  Bring your own cup, or they will sell you one.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day—adopt a pet

The Department of Environmental Resources’ Animal Management Group (AMG) is celebrating February with a “Have a Heart for Animals” Adoption Event at the Animal Services Facility in Upper Marlboro. 

In recognition of Valentine’s Day, all dogs and cats will be offered for adoption at $80 off the regular adoption fee during February. Anyone looking for that special someone to love, who has room in their home and their heart for a pet, is encouraged to visit the Animal Services Facility. Adoption counselors will be on hand to help you choose that special pet to love. Animals may also be viewed online at

This animal adoption event is just one of the many community outreach efforts sponsored by AMG to increase the adoption of homeless animals. For more information, contact AMG at (301) 780-7200. 

Now there are stars in his crown

Herbert “Herb” Emerson Counihan, a Navy veteran who served in World War II, worked for the federal government and retired from the Pentagon, died Jan. 18 at his home in Temple Hills. He was 83.   He was born in Upstate New York, the son of Virginia and Thomas Counihan.

He has lived in the Oxon Hill and Temple Hills areas for many years. A longtime member of St. Philip’s Parish, he used to coach and to help with their annual crab feast. Back in the 1970s, he and Agnes helped put out the parish newsletter.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Agnes Counihan; children, Michael (Jennifer), Patrick, Valerie, Rachel, Glenn and Barbara Kawamura (Dale); eight grandchildren; and, his sister, Mary Margaret Wheeler. He was preceded in death by his parents, son Gregory, brother Tom and sister Virginia.  

A memorial service was held at St. Philip’s, celebrated by Father Scott Hahn. Steve Dameron provided music. One selection was “Will There Be Any Stars in my Crown?”  Herb used to sing it to his kids, changing “my” to “your.”

May they rest in peace

James W. Musgrove, 62, a 1966 graduate of Oxon Hill High and lead singer in the 1960s of the Dagenites, a band of Oxon Hill natives, died in Clinton on Sept. 9. He joined his first rock band when he was 12 and went on to sing not only with the Dagenites but also with guitarists Danny Gatton and Link Wray and the rock band Cherry People. During the 1980s and ‘90s he worked as an interpretive historian at the National Colonial Farm in Accokeek. Survivors include two sons and four brothers. His songs included “Poison Ivy,” “I’m Gone Slide,” and “The Fugitive.”

Nicola Jeanne Brintzenhofe, 62, a 1966 graduate of the old La Reine High School, died Nov. 14 at her sister’s home in Damascus. She lived in Springfield.She was the chief financial officer for three companies, including Direct Impact, a public relations firm, and an investor and partner for a number of Curves and Massage Envy spas. Survivors include two sons, Danny and Christopher Salerio, her father, five sisters and two brothers.


Happy birthday to Mary Graham, Feb. 4; Adam Cook, Feb. 5; Diane McCrone, Feb. 6; Theo Carter, Rita Beall and J.B. Thomas, Feb. 7; Jesse Ritter and my great-granddaughter Molly McHale, Feb. 8; Connie Waby and Mary (Stakem) Crane, Feb. 9.

Happy 61st anniversary to William and Betty Fitzpatrick who were wed Feb. 4, 1950. 

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