“The mission before the man”
Many people in Carlisle will remember Jim Washington with love and will offer tributes based on his work at Hope Station and other community efforts. I offer this small recollection from my school board experience.
In late 2001 the Carlisle Area School Board began to consider whether to give a name to what had previously been known only as “the West Building.” One of the first names suggested was that of Clyde Washington, formerly a four-letter athlete at Carlisle High School and later a professional football player. Clyde was an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania when a brain tumor cut short his life at age 36. Many long-time residents of Carlisle remembered him fondly and with respect.
Clyde had been one of Jim Washington’s relatives. Jim very much hoped that the school board would name this building after Clyde and was initially a strong advocate on his kinsman’s behalf. However, Jim decided that the best chance of ensuring that this building would be named after an African-American would be for him to unite with others to honor the memory of a black teacher at what had been a “colored school.” From that point on, Jim threw himself into urging the school board to give the former West Building the name it bears today – the Emma T. McGowan Building.
Jim’s willingness to set aside his own wishes for a larger cause was characteristically unselfish, an example of fidelity to his Marine ethic: “The mission before the man.”
Fred D. Baldwin