2016 Inductee Profiles
Robert N. C. Nix, Sr.
William “Bill” Boggs III
Friends of Pennypack Park
Edward Duffield (1730-1803) Colonial clock & compass maker, civic leader, educator
Edward Duffield was a well-known engraver and clock and compass maker in colonial Philadelphia, as well as an active patriot during the Revolutionary War and an important civic leader in Northeast Philadelphia.
Edward Duffield was born in 1730 and raised at “Benfield,” his family’s estate in the area that is now the Morrell Park neighborhood of the Northeast. The Duffield family home stood approximately where Christ the King Catholic Church is now located.
Little is known of Duffield’s early life, but by age 21 he had a shop at the corner of 2nd and Arch Streets in Philadelphia, where he did engraving and made and sold watches, clocks, and compasses. The large double-faced clock that hung outside his shop may have been the first public clock in America. In the 1760s and 1770s he was responsible for maintaining the clock in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall.
Duffield was good friends with Benjamin Franklin and was a member of the literary and scientific organizations that Franklin founded, including the Library Company of Philadelphia and the American Philosophical Society. Like Franklin, he took an active interest in science and technology, as well as in civic and political affairs. The Philosophical Society still has the specially equipped clock Duffield made in 1769 for its study of the transit of the planet Mercury, and the Historical Society of Frankford has one of his rare complete surviving compasses.
In 1775 Edward Duffield moved back to Benfield where he conducted agricultural experiments and invented various farm implements. In late June of 1776 Benjamin Franklin was staying at Benfield, recovering from an illness. Franklin had been appointed to the “Committee of Five,” a group including Thomas Jefferson and John Adams that was charged with drafting the Declaration of Independence. It is probable that when the Committee met in late June 1776 to discuss the final form of the Declaration, the meeting was at Benfield, while Franklin was staying there.
During the British occupation of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War, Duffield was imprisoned briefly by the British in Walnut Street Prison, a building that he had helped to build. Duffield’s family and members of Franklin’s family stayed at Benfield at this time.
Edward Duffield was a leader in the Northeast Philadelphia community in the late eighteenth century. He helped to establish two local schools, the Lower Dublin Academy and the Byberry and Moreland School, served as founding President of the Trustees of Lower Dublin Academy, and was instrumental in the formation of All Saints Episcopal Church in Torresdale. Edward Duffield died in 1803 and is buried with his family in the cemetery of All Saints Church.
Return to Top
Al Schmid (1920-1982) World War II Hero
Al Schmid was a World War II hero whose valor in the South Pacific in 1942 earned him great honor and fame.
Albert Andrew Schmid was born in Philadelphia in 1920 and raised in the Burholme neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia. He worked on farms and at odd jobs before taking a job in 1940 at the Dodge Steel Company in Tacony.
On December 7, 1941 Al Schmid heard on the radio about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Two days later he enlisted in the Marines. After training in Carolina, he had a short leave back home, during which he collected a bonus from Dodge Steel and used the money to purchase an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Ruth. He then shipped out with the 1st Marine Division, landing in early August 1942 on the island of Guadalcanal in the South Pacific.
In the early morning hours of August 21st, Al Schmid was manning a machine gun nest with fellow Marines Lee Diamond and Johnny Rivers, when hundreds of Japanese began attacking their position. Johnny Rivers was killed early in the battle and later a grenade landed in the nest, severely wounding both Diamond and Schmid. Despite their injuries, they carried on. Diamond, who was physically incapacitated, directed Schmid, who had been blinded, where to fire, as wave after wave of Japanese attacked. When they were finally rescued hours later, Schmid and Diamond had held their position and hundreds of Japanese lay dead before them. It was a decisive victory, one battle in the broader Guadalcanal Campaign that proved pivotal in winning the war in the South Pacific.
After a long, grueling recovery and many operations, Al Schmid was left blind in one eye and with very limited vision in the other. During his recovery, he tried to call off his engagement to Ruth, believing that he would not be able to adequately provide for her. But Ruth would not abandon him and soon after Al returned home to Philadelphia in early 1943 they were married.
Al Schmid received many honors and much publicity as a result of his heroism. He was awarded the Navy Cross, one of the nation’s highest honors for valor, and was given a hero’s parade by the Philadelphia Inquirer
. A feature article about him appeared in Life Magazine
in 1943, the book Al Schmid Marine
was published in 1944, and in 1945 Warner Brothers’ released the movie “Pride of the Marines,” with Hollywood star John Garfield portraying Al Schmid. Despite all the recognition, Schmid consistently maintained that he was no hero, that he was an ordinary man who was just doing his job in the war.
Following the war, Al, Ruth, and their son Al Junior, who was born in 1944, lived for a number of years on Fillmore Street in Frankford before moving to Florida, where Al died in 1982. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Return to Top
Robert N. C. Nix, Sr. (1898-1987) U.S. Congressman
Robert N. C. Nix Sr. was a pioneering African American lawyer and US congressman, as well as patriarch of a family of Philadelphia legal and civic leaders.
Robert Nelson Cornelius Nix Sr. was born in 1898 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. His father, who was born just as slavery was ending, rose to become a Baptist minister and Dean of South Carolina State College.
As an adolescent, Robert moved to New York City. After graduating high school in New York, he attended Lincoln University outside of Philadelphia. Following his graduation from Lincoln in 1921, he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, receiving his law degree in 1924. He then established a legal practice with his college roommate, E. Washington Rhodes, longtime editor of The Philadelphia Tribune
. Nix and Rhodes was one of the very few African American law firms in Philadelphia in the early twentieth-century. The firm later became Nix, Rhodes, and Nix, when his son, Robert N. C. Nix Jr., joined the practice.
Robert Nix Sr. became active in the Philadelphia Democratic Party in the 1930s, serving as committeeman for many years. He was appointed special assistant deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1934 and was a delegate to the 1956 Democratic National Convention. In 1958 he was elected to the US House of Representatives for the 2nd District, the first African American to represent Pennsylvania in the US House. He was reelected ten times, serving twenty years before losing in the primary in 1978.
In Congress, Nix worked for the passage of the landmark civil rights bills of the 1960s. He was chairman of the Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service, chairman of the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, and a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In an era when many in politics took high-profile or even militant approaches to issues of the day, Congressman Nix was known for his low-key approach, shunning publicity and preferring to work quietly behind the scenes.
In the mid-1950s, Congressman Nix was among the first residents of Greenbelt Knoll near Holme Circle in Northeast Philadelphia, the first planned interracial housing development in the City of Philadelphia, and one of the first in the United States. He lived at Greenbelt Knoll until his death in 1987. The Robert N.C. Nix Sr. Federal Building in Philadelphia is named in his honor. His son, Robert N. C. Nix, Jr., was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1971, the first African American to be elected to statewide office in Pennsylvania, and served as Chief Justice from 1984-1996, the first African American chief justice of any state supreme court in the nation.
Robert N. C. Nix Sr. died in 1987 and is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery just outside Philadelphia.
Return to Top
William “Bill” Boggs III Television Host, journalist, author
William Boggs III, better known as “Bill,” is a successful television host, producer, journalist, and author.
Born in 1941 in Frankford and raised in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philadelphia, Bill Boggs graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1959 and went on to study at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a master’s degree from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication.
He worked as Assistant Dean at Penn before beginning a long career in television. His first TV job was in 1968, working the teleprompter for legendary Philadelphia newscaster John Facenda at Channel 10. Later, he was associate producer and occasional on-air personality at Channel 3.
After hosting a regional TV show in North Carolina in the early 1970s, Bill Boggs moved to New York City, where he hosted Midday Live
on WNEW from 1976 to 1986 and served as news anchor for Weekend Today
on WNBC. Over the years, he conducted thousands of interviews, often with the most high-profile people in public life.
Bill Boggs went on to host and produce a wide range of TV shows, including talk shows, game shows, comedy, food, travel, and sports programs. A four-time Emmy winner, he was executive producer of the groundbreakingem>Morton Downey, Jr. Show, as well as founding executive producer of Court TV
and Comedy Tonight
. He appeared for a decade on Bill Boggs Corner Table
on the Food Network
In 2003 Bill Boggs debuted a solo off-Broadway stage show called Talk Show Confidential
, which included stories and video clips from his years as a television talk show host. That show, and his novel At First Sight
, were optioned for a movie inspired by his life. He was celebrity correspondent for the syndicated PBS television show My Generation
, which featured interviews inspired by his 2007 book, Got What it Takes?: Successful People Reveal How They Made It to the Top
. As a result of that book, he is sought after as a motivational speaker. He has another book coming out in 2017.
Bill Boggs has appeared in over a dozen movies. He is an officer of the Friars Club of New York and a member of the board of directors of the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame. He has a son Trevor and in the year 2000 Bill Boggs was honored as a “Father of the Year” by the National Father’s Day Committee.
Return to Top
Friends of Pennypack Park
Friends of Pennypack Park is a community organization that has worked to maintain and preserve Pennypack Park for almost thirty years.
Pennypack Park is the green heart of Northeast Philadelphia. The Park was established in 1905 by the City of Philadelphia to insure the protection of Pennypack Creek and the preservation of the surrounding land. The Park consists of some 1,688 acres of woodlands, meadows, wetlands and fields, and serves as a natural recreational area for all to enjoy. Popular activities include hiking on miles of back woods trails, horseback riding, bicycling on the park’s nine-mile paved bike path, picnicking, and fishing in the Pennypack Creek.
Friends of Pennypack Park was formed in 1987 by a group of individuals who were concerned about the state of the Park and had a vision for an organization that would be an advocate for the landscape and actively work to improve its condition. An all-volunteer organization, Friends of Pennypack Park activities include conducting monthly nature and history walks, sponsoring park clean-ups and trail restorations, monitoring water quality in Pennypack Creek, and holding meetings on matters concerning the Park. The Friends have also repaired and replaced picnic tables and benches, placed additional trash cans throughout the Park, erected gates at trail entrances to keep out unauthorized motor vehicles, and installed informational signs at park entrances.
Since its founding in 1987, Friends of Pennypack Park have worked with the City of Philadelphia and actively engaged the local community in preserving and protecting one of Northeast Philadelphia’s greatest natural resources.
Return to Top
For more information contact Project Director Jack McCarthy at 215-824-1636 / email@example.com