S. ABINGTON TWP. — The Rotary Club of the Abingtons recently celebrated the 100th birthday of longtime member Howard Hyde.
Hyde was born in Wheeling, West Virginia on January 20, 1919. The son of Roger and Elsie Hyde, he moved at age 5 to Calais Maine, where he grew up near the Canadian Border.
Drafted during WWII, Hyde was sent to Australia with the Army Air Corps. It was there he met Helen Matthews.
Then sent to New Guinea, Hyde received special permission to return to Australia to marry Helen in 1944. The couple would be separated for two years while Hyde served in the South Pacific and after his return to the U.S. for a war bride ship to bring Helen.
Hyde took a position at an architect’s office in Bangor, Maine. He finished his schooling, receiving a degree in Architecture from Cornell University. Hyde and Helen relocated to Australia for five years. They returned to the U.S. after Hyde accepted a position at an architectural firm in the Abingtons, now called Burkavage Design Associates.
“What I enjoyed most was the collegiate work. I did work on some campuses. Two projects were for Cornell, as a matter of fact, and some for state colleges. I’ve also done a lot of military work. I even designed things for the Air Corps,” Hyde said, laughing at the serendipity of his life and career.
“It’s been a very rewarding life. Looking back, I’ve had a feeling that it’s been a good and rewarding profession. I was able to do some nice buildings that I hope are being enjoyed by many people.”
He and Helen settled in Waverly where they raised their three children, David, Ellie and Deirdre. They enjoyed 67 years of marriage before Helen passed away in 2011.
Hyde reminisced about the Abingtons at a Rotary Club lunch meeting with friend Ned Connell whom he met in 1962 when they began working together.
“There was a Giant Market on the boulevard. And there was the Nichols Village, which in the 50’s was just a little 12-room motel. That’s where we stayed when we first came, until we found a place to live,” Hyde said.
“I-81 wasn’t around. They hadn’t built it yet. It was just Routes 6 & 11,” said Connell. “There wasn’t much in Clarks Summit then. Carl Rock’s Steakhouse is a restaurant I remember and Tommy Lynn’s Bar up by Grove Street.”
“The Parish Diner was next door to the Nichols Village Motel,” Hyde remembered. “There wasn’t much down there. It was a pretty quiet place. My, how it has changed.”
“I joined Rotary in 1970,” Hyde shared. “I wanted to get into an organization that was doing something for the community … and for the rest of the world. I wanted to get into something that was really making a difference. I’ve stayed in it ever since.”
Hyde served as president of the Rotary Club of the Abingtons from 1979-1980.
“My thing was to stress ethics in what we did. I saw so many people who were doing unethical things in their businesses and their lives, so that was the thing I stressed while I was president,” Hyde said.
Hyde is a three-time Paul Harris Fellow. Paul Harris founded Rotary Club International in 1905.
“Here locally, we have done quite a few things through the Rotary. I was chairman of the group that did the highway pickup through the Adopt-a-Highway Program. The other big project this club did was a camp for kids. We gave them training. It was a week-long leadership camp for sophomores in high school every summer. I was chairman of that for a number of years.
“I have enjoyed being a Rotarian. We have done a lot of good for the community. We have fun too. We did skits and plays in the past. I haven’t done one in quite some time. I’m too old,” Hyde said laughing.
Gail Cicerini reminisced about skits the Rotary Club had performed. “Eileen Christian and her husband Bill would take a story like “The Wizard of Oz” and write a humorous skit based on it with songs and everything. Our Rotary Club members would act out the skit. It was hysterical …Howard was in many of those.”
The Rotary Club of the Abingtons honored Hyde with a cake and recognition on his 100th birthday.
When asked about his achievements, Hyde responded, “I haven’t done quite so much. Not as much as others. But it’s been rewarding.”
Howard Hyde has lived in different places, served in different ways, and throughout his 100 years, he has made a difference.
What a difference a century can make.