Eagle Scout sets high standard


July 06, 1999|By John J. Snyder | John J. Snyder,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHARLES IRVING Stokes III, 18, is now an Eagle Scout.

Stokes, who lives in Kings Contrivance with his mother and stepfather, Deborah and Matthew Williams, is the first member of Troop 513 to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout rank. The troop has been in existence 27 years.

His Eagle investiture was held May 23 at First Baptist Church of Guilford on Oakland Mills Road. More than 200 family members and friends packed the church.

"It was the largest crowd I have ever seen at an Eagle Scout award in the 13 years I've been in office," said Del. Shane Pendergrass, a Howard County Democrat who presented a Maryland State Delegates Citation to Stokes.

"I am particularly pleased to acknowledge good news about teen-agers," Pendergrass said. "Charles Stokes is a terrific example of a teen-ager making good choices."

Becoming an Eagle Scout is the highest achievement in Scouting.

The Scout must fulfill requirements in leadership, service and outdoor skills, earning merit badges, which recognize accomplishment, along the way.

To qualify, Stokes had to earn at least 21 badges -- 12 of them in first aid, citizenship, environmental science, personal fitness, camping and family life.

Scouts progress from Tenderfoot through Second Class, First Class, Star and Life ranks before reaching Eagle.

Among the requirements for the top rank is a substantial service project. Only about 2 percent of Scouts reach the top rank. The final decision to award the rank rests with the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Celebrity Eagle Scouts include former President Gerald Ford, astronaut James Lovell and film director Steven Spielberg.

As his service project, Stokes decided to build a nature trail at Camp Farthestout in Carroll County. The free camp for Baltimore children is sponsored by Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, where Stokes is a member.

Fellow troop members Nick Andrews, Jordan Beverly, Chris Crawford, Gregory Case, Colin Dotsen, Russell Jay Frisby, Chad Jarrell Graham, Steven McClurkin, David Molaho, Keegon Roberts, Robby Robinson, Chris Stevenson and Lionel Thomas Jr. pitched in to help build the trail.

That took more than 300 hours of work over six months. The half-mile trail includes a log bridge and a fire pit.

Stokes named the path the Dr. William V. Lockwood Memorial Nature Trail, in memory of his maternal grandfather.

Stokes speaks of his grandfather with great pride -- and rightfully so.

At a time when few opportunities were available to African-Americans, Lockwood made his own path to success.

He earned a bachelor of science degree from Morgan State University in 1938 and joined the Army when World War II broke out. He was assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir, Va.

On July 8, 1942, Lockwood graduated from Officer Candidate School. He was one of the first three African-Americans to be promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.

During the war, Lockwood built bridges in France and elsewhere in the European theater. When he left the Army after five years, it was with the rank of major.

In 1947, Lockwood earned a master's degree in psychology at Northwestern University, and in 1956 a doctorate in education, administration and guidance from the Johns Hopkins University.

He retired from Baltimore City Community College with the title of vice president emeritus.

Lockwood died at age 79 in 1995.

He would have been proud to see his grandson honored with an avalanche of plaques, certificates and scholarship awards. Stokes was recognized at the ceremony by the Tuskegee Airmen's Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Baltimore Urban League, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and many others.

Councilman C. Vernon Gray presented the Scout with an honorary resolution from the Howard County Council.

"This is a young man with his head on straight," Gray said. "I knew his grandfather. He made sure that boy had the right influences."

Stokes' Eagle adviser, Gregory F. Bingham, presented the Nationwide/G. F. Bingham Insurance Agency Scholarship to the Eagle Scout. Bingham is the proprietor of the agency.

Bingham, who earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1982, was the first in Troop 524 to receive the award.

Now he is Scoutmaster for the troop, which is based at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington.

The troop is more than 60 years old and has produced eight Eagle Scouts since he made the rank.

"Charles is the first, so he's the benchmark for what the guys should be doing," Bingham says. "We have three more coming up in 513, and Charles is helping them all."

In spite of all the attention, Stokes remains a quiet teen-ager. He graduated from Hammond High School in June, and is looking forward to starting his freshman year at Hampton University in Virginia in the fall.

This summer, he is working in the computer sales department at Best Buy on Snowden River Parkway.

He spends his free time with his pal, Kings Contrivance resident Keegon Roberts, who introduced him to Scouting. He was a member of the Hammond High School varsity football team last year.

"This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I've had in my young life," Stokes said, "but I like to finish what I start."

New restaurant

Long Reach neighbor Jack Der is opening a restaurant on the site of the old Taco Bell in Long Reach Village Center. The restaurant, called Jack's, will open July 17.

But you don't have to wait until then to grab a bite there. On Saturday, you can stop by and say hello. The doors will be open and he'll be cooking as he gets the grills and the staff seasoned in preparation for the opening.

Sandwiches, seafood and chicken dishes, plus a full range of ice cream treats, will be offered.

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