The Delaware Business Times has announced its inaugural Eight Over 80 list of older Delawareans who are contributing to their communities, the state, and, in many cases, the nation long past retirement age. In addition to the nine honorees (we’ve recognized a husband-and-wife team), we are also posthumously honoring a nominee who passed away during the selection process.
The honorees are:
- Sam Beard: “A social entrepreneur” who has a 50-year track record in Delaware. He has created and chaired programs for seven U.S. presidents that have collectively led to more than 10 million jobs for the low-income population. His current project focuses on mindfulness and meditation, where he hopes to use Delaware as a proving ground for the worldwide project. His immediate target: getting 100,000 Delawareans into meditation in five years.
- Canon Lloyd Casson: The rector emeritus who presided over the racially diverse church community of Saints Andrew and Matthew in Wilmington during its consolidation of two parishes. He was ordained in 1964 and has provided leadership at the parish, diocesan, and national levels of the church for more than 40 years in urban community affairs and world issues.
- Richard “Dick” Christopher: The former president and CEO of Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate who has shared his business acumen and personal philanthropy in service to the Nemours Children’s Health System and the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children for nearly two decades. He was also recognized by the Del-Mar-Va Council of Boy Scouts as the 2016 Citizen of the Year.
- Bebe Coker: A longtime advocate for quality public education, Coker has been an activist in Delaware for more than 50 years. She was appointed by former Gov. Pierre S. du Pont to join the Citizens Alliance for Public Education to ensure peaceful desegregation of the state’s schools. Coker also served as co-director of the Delaware Black Heritage Educational Theater Group, which collaborates with literacy programs all over for African American youth.
- Joe Conaway: A former Sussex County administrator and Bridgeville council president, Conaway is now a well-known land use consultant. He also chairs the Sussex Economic Development Action Committee, which strives to attract and retain employers in the county, and serves on the board of CHEER Inc., which serves the county’s senior and homebound populations.
- Reba Hollingsworth: A longtime educator who has helped advance the state’s civil rights efforts. Hollingsworth has served on the Delaware Heritage Commission for more than three decades, and today serves as its vice chair. She has helped advance educational efforts at Delaware State University while quietly assisting many in the community.
- Terry and Sandy Strine: Co-founders of Leadership Delaware, which will impact Delaware for a generation to come. They have graduated more than 246 Fellows, including 27 from 22 different career paths in the class that will graduate soon, over the past decade. Terry is also a former chairman of the Delaware State Republican Committee.
- Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey: The juristserved a 12-year term on the Delaware Supreme Court until May 2004 and has remained active with Weil, Gotschal & Manges LLP and now Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella P.A., specializing in arbitration and mediation and serving as an expert witness on the Delaware courts across the globe.
- Sonia Sloan (posthumous): A lifelong activist and political organizer who was active in each of Joe Biden’s campaigns, starting with his first bid for the U.S. Senate in 1972. She started out in politics organizing against the Vietnam War but quickly expanded her involvement with the Delaware Democratic Party. Her support and work are widely credited for helping today’s Democratic Party hold a lasting grip in state politics.
“We were amazed and humbled by the number and quality of nominations that we received,” DBT Editor Peter Osborne said. “We easily could have selected 20 to 30 of the nominees – maybe more – and nobody would have questioned the choice.”
You can read their stories in the Nov. 12 issue of the Delaware Business Times and online.