Benjamin D. Foulois teacher Sharon Christa McAuliffe was selected to be the first “person on the street” to travel a space mission that ended in tragedy 35 years ago this week.

Christa, as she was known, was born in Boston, the oldest of the five children of Edward and Grace Corrigan. As a student at Marian High School, the Apollo space program inspired her. She wrote, “I watched the Space Age being born and I would like to participate.” She earned a degree at Framingham State and a master’s in education at Bowie State College.

In 1970 she married her longtime boyfriend Steven McAuliffe whom she had known since high school. He was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and they moved to Washington so he could attend Georgetown Law School. By then they had two children, Scott and Caroline.

Christa’s first position was American History teacher at Benjamin D. Foulois Junior High School in Morningside. She later taught at Thomas Johnson Middle School in Lanham. Meanwhile, Steve was law clerk for then State Senator Steny Hoyer. In 1978 they moved to Concord, N.H., where Steve became an assistant to the New Hampshire Attorney General and Christa taught at Concord High School.

In 1985, Christa was selected from among more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project and was scheduled to become the first teacher in space.

During its 10th launch, on Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, killing Christa and six other crewmembers, changing NASA’s space program forever. Throughout the country, teachers and students had watched, among them Steve, Scott and Caroline who were at Cape Canaveral to witness takeoff.

Christa is buried at Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord. Steve McAuliffe remarried some years later. Scott, who was 8 when his mother died, has become a marine biologist. Caroline, who was 6, is a teacher like her mom.

Christa has had many scholarships offered in her name and honors of all kinds continue to be announced. In 2004 she was among 13 astronauts, who died in space disasters to be posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush.

In 2019 Congress passed the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act. It allows the Department of the Treasury to issue “not more than 350,000 $1 coins” in commemoration of Christa McAuliffe. The coins are due to be minted this year.

Town of Morningside

Easter is coming up April 4 and Morningside is considering activities for both seniors and for the Town.

Election for mayor and two council members is coming up May 3.

Monthly Work Session for the Council will be Feb. 9 at 7pm and the Town Hall Meeting will be Feb. 16, 7pm. Meetings are by Maestro Telephone Conference. For information, call 301-736-2300.

The office will be closed on Presidents Day, Feb. 15.

And, drive carefully — the Town has two new police officers.

Neighbors & other good people

Fr. William F. Good, who served as senior priest at St. John’s in Clinton 2006-2007 and who marked his 60 years as a priest in 2020, died Nov. 20. He was 86.

In last week’s column I wished Joanne Clark Bunch a happy birthday on Jan. 30. But Sue Stine Mason emailed that Joanne died several years ago.

I very much appreciate those who find mistakes (and there are a lot!) in my column and let me know. One of the best at this is Sue. She graduated from Suitland High in 1964 and has a Deceased Classmates site she administers for Suitland High schoolmates, classes of 1952 to 1972. She says, “Seems like every week I get another name.” Sadly, that list is now very long.

Changing landscape

The DPW&T has been awarded the 2020 Maryland Quality Asphalt Pavement Awards for the Tucker Road and Palmer Road projects. The reason: “The completed projects addressed some of the pressing infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle safety concerns in Ft. Washington.” In case you don’t know, DPW&T is the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation.

The vintage Cadillac Motel was recently demolished. The location, listed on an old postcard was: “On the Tobacco Trail (U. S. 301), 2 miles north of Waldorf, 13 miles S.E. of Washington.”

I’m celebrating Catholic Schools Week

For a week at the end of January, Catholic Schools are celebrated throughout the U.S. At St. Philip’s, in Camp Springs, for example, they held an Open House on Sunday, celebrated the community, their teachers, the students, and for country, a dress-in-red-white-and-blue day. The week often ends with second quarter report cards. And then begins the second semester.

I celebrate Catholic Schools Week because I am a product of Catholic Schools which I attended my whole life: St. Agnes in Cincinnati, St. Andrew’s and St. Mary’s Cathedral School in Saginaw, Mich., Our Lady of the Lake High School in San Antonio, St. Mary’s Notre Dame in South Bend, and Catholic University. My late husband Jack, who grew up in Houston, traveled a similar path, ending with Notre Dame where he met me.

This year Catholic Schools Week was celebrated Jan. 31 through Feb. 6. I celebrate my education and all those nuns, priests, and lay teachers who shared their knowledge with me. And I celebrate my parents who made it all possible.

John Windsor, Knight of St. John

John Milton Windsor Jr., 86, of Forestville, Army vet and WSSC retiree, died Jan. 9 in Winter Haven, Fla. He grew up in Upper Marlboro, and served in the Army. After honorable discharge in 1957, he worked as a laborer with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, earned a degree in Civil Engineering and retired as Area Construction Coordinator after 30 years.

He was a high-ranking member of the Knights of St. John International, a Catholic organization dedicated to serve Church, community and brotherhood. He was a volunteer at Doctor’s Hospital in Greenbelt, an election judge, and a Eucharistic Minister at Holy Spirit Church in Forestville.

His wife Mary died in 1993. He was the father of four, grandfather of 18, great-grandfather of 30, and great-great granddad of 4. He also leaves sister Ethel Nelson and brother Bernard Windsor. His Funeral Mass was at Mount Calvary with burial at Resurrection Cemetery.

John enjoyed the seniors’ swimming classes at Prince George’s Community College.

Milestones

Happy birthday to Diane McCrone , Feb. 6; Theo Carter, Rita Beall and J.B. Thomas, Feb. 7; Jesse Ritter and my great-granddaughter Molly McHale, Feb. 8; Connie Waby and Mary (Stakem) Crane, Feb. 9; Alma Richardson, Feb. 10; Ginny Call, Dawn Witherow and David Chambers, Feb. 11.