Md. chamber to induct 3 into its Hall of Fame


May 10, 2007|By June Arney | June Arney,Sun reporter

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce plans to induct three business leaders into the Maryland Business Hall of Fame tonight at its annual awards dinner.

The new members are: the late Walter Sondheim Jr., longtime civic leader who was senior adviser to Greater Baltimore Committee; Jeong Kim, president of Bell Labs at Alcatel-Lucent; and Sister Helen Amos, executive chairwoman of the board of trustees of Mercy Health Services. They will be honored at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel.

A passion for education was a hallmark of all three, Kathy Snyder, president and chief executive of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday. Cardinal among their principles, she said, was the belief that "if you set your mind to it, you can make a difference."

Sondheim, active in Baltimore affairs for more than 50 years, was told of the award about a month before his death at age 98 in February, Snyder said. His son and daughter will accept on his behalf, she said.

"He seemed very excited about it," Snyder said. "He's one of the people who's made such a difference in one city that it takes your breath away."

Sondheim was a senior vice president and treasurer of Baltimore department store Hochschild, Kohn & Co. He became president of Baltimore's Board of School Commissioners and led school desegregation in 1954 after the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. He then devoted himself to downtown renewal. After retiring from Hochschild in 1970, Sondheim began a second career as chairman of Charles Center-Inner Harbor Management Inc. and worked to make Baltimore a model for downtown renewal.

Kim founded Yurie Systems Inc. in 1992, where he pioneered the development of a switch for wireless applications that became key in modern telecommunications systems. In May 1998, Lucent Technologies acquired Yurie Systems. Kim initially served as president of Lucent's former broadband carrier networks, then was named chief operating officer and later president of the optical network group. Kim left Lucent in 2001 to join the University of Maryland, College Park faculty, with joint appointments in the department of electrical and computer engineering and the department of mechanical engineering. He rejoined Lucent in April 2005 as president of Bell Labs.

"For a company to be successful, it's not only one person, it has to be a team that works well," said Kim of Bell Labs. "I will receive this award on behalf of the team."

Amos has more than 30 years of experience in education and health care. She was named executive chairwoman, board of trustees of Mercy Health Services Inc. in 1999 after serving as president and chief executive of Mercy Medical Center. Amos has been responsible for the creation of the Gynecologic Oncology Center, the Breast Center, "The Woman's Doctor" program on WBAL-TV, and Mercy FamilyCare. "I am really humbled by being selected by the Maryland chamber," Amos said yesterday. "It's really a recognition of the great work of this medical center."

Also tonight, the chamber will name Betty Buck, president of Buck Distributing Co. Inc., as chair of its board. Buck will be the first woman to hold the position. Buck Distributing is one of the largest woman-owned-and-operated Miller Brewing Co. distributors in the country. Founded in 1946 by her father, Irwin Buck, the company employs more than 100 people and has annual sales of more than $40 million.

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