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Railroad crossing named after beloved community member

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Apr 9, 2021

SCC members Jenny Haynes and Jen Wabnitz are joined by Mayor Jim Auxer, Hank Willard and Ryan Haring at the unveiling of signage designating the Henry Willard Crossing at Morgan’s Grove Park on Saturday. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — In conjunction with the official opening of Morgan’s Grove Park for the spring season, members of the community gathered at the park on Saturday to unveil signage honoring the late Henry Willard.

Willard, a resident of Shepherdstown and former member of the Shepherdstown Community Club, bequeathed more than $5 million to a variety of organizations in and around the area, including the SCC.

Prior to unveiling signage at what will now be known as the Henry Willard Crossing at the entrance to Morgan’s Grove’s lower parking lot, SCC President Jenifer Wabnitz welcomed the attendees and shared some remarks.

“We are here to recognize this kind gentleman, a member of our club, who gave such a generous donation to the club and to others,” Wabnitz said. “Through his donation, we have been able to keep this park looking lovely.”

Mayor Jim Auxer took a few moments to share remembrances of Willard. “He was kind and well-respected in the Shepherdstown community,” Auxer said. “He cared about the people and they cared about him.”

Auxer also expressed his appreciation to the railroad for allowing the crossing to be named for Willard. Joining in the unveiling ceremony was Ryan Haring, track supervisor for the Norfolk Southern Railroad that runs adjacent to the park’s border. Willard’s son, Hank, then explained why naming the railroad crossing after his father was appropriate. “Dad was a great train buff. He would travel far and wide for train spotting. He used to take us on steam excursions, where there were more steam engines,” Hank said. “Those are great memories.”

Following the speeches, Wabnitz unveiled permanent signage about Willard’s connection with the railroad. “Henry loved to watch trains,” the sign says. “Many children enjoy watching the trains at this spot. Think of Henry the next time you hear the whistle blow.”

Following the unveiling, members of Girl Scout Troop 40438 blew whistles to emulate that of the train, in honor of Willard.

SCC members then provided hot dogs to those gathered at the park.

To learn more about the Shepherdstown Community Club, visit www.shepherdstowncc.org or call 304-876-3323.