UMES Remembers Educator, Humanitarian
PRINCESS ANNE, MD - Some 800 mourners traveled to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus and its Metropolitan United Methodist Church during two days of mourning for educator and humanitarian, Dr. William Percy Hytche Sr. Educators, legislators, clergy and UMES faculty, staff and students joined family, friends and well-wishers to celebrate a life decorated with vast accomplishment. After an extended illness, the once tireless educator died peacefully in his home on Sunday, July 15.
“Bill was a compassionate and visionary leader who set high standards of performance for UMES and for those who wanted to collaborate with his institution,” said Dr. William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. “UMES is the fine university it is today largely because of Bill's leadership, drive, energy and ability to garner resources from a variety of sources including the State, the federal government and the private sector. I learned so much watching Bill operate in Annapolis with his remarkable ability to persuade and cajole legislators. Once he finished one of his eloquent and inimitable presentations, the budget committees were putty in his hands. Bill leaves behind an amazing legacy of accomplishment--and many, many friends and admirers."
“Dr. William P. Hytche’s contributions to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore are indelible,” said Dr. Thelma B. Thompson, UMES president. “The University family has indeed suffered a great loss and share in the grief of Mrs. Deloris Hytche, her children and her grandchildren. UMES continues to be indebted to Dr. Hytche for his leadership, his contributions, his passion and most importantly, his vision.”
The funeral service, which was broadcast on the university’s closed circuit television system, spanned four hours of remembrances, well-placed humor and words of comfort. Immediately following the funeral, Hytche’s funeral car was led by police escort around the academic oval to finally pause in front of J. T. Williams Hall, the university’s administrative building, just below the suite of offices where he worked for some 21 years as president. Students, waving flags from 12 different countries, lined the top of the international flag mall just in front of Williams Hall in salute to the fallen Hawk, who forged international, educational linkages between UMES and several universities and agencies situated in African countries: Cameroon, Kenya, Egypt, Israel and Nigeria.
Touted as a legend in his own lifetime, Hytche was remembered by his college roommate, colleague and friend as the “Big Man on Campus” at Langston University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. Even then, said Dr. Henry Ponder, president emeritus of Fisk University, he was entrusted with “important jobs” to which he effortlessly applied himself – a character trait that would remain constant during subsequent leadership positions.
As first sergeant in the U.S. Army he was lauded for his character, his attitude and his abilities in leading many men who were older than he. Following his two-year stint in the military, he worked various teaching jobs, including teaching at the university level from 1960, when he was recruited to teach at UMES by then president Dr. John Taylor Williams, until he took the helm at UMES as acting chancellor in 1975 and then chancellor in 1976.
“With the passing of Dr. Hytche,” said Dr. Earl Richardson, Morgan State College president and alumnus of UMES, “Historically Black Institutions and the larger higher education community have lost one of its most passionate advocates. Similarly, the Eastern Shore has lost a great civic leader and the state of Maryland has lost a true statesman.”
"Bill Hytche was a great academic leader and dear friend," said Kirwan. "During the period I was president of the University of Maryland, College Park, we worked together on many fronts. Our collaboration was driven by the fact that, in addition to high quality education, our two institutions shared a research and land-grant mission. This led to many joint activities between our universities in agriculture, the life sciences and the environment.”
“I watched Dr. Hytche grow this university from an unattractive campus to the beautiful public institution it is today,” said Dr. Ronnie Holden, UMES vice president for administrative affairs. “He truly devoted his life to the livelihood of the university, establishing more and more buildings and academic programs. On weekends and nights, if you went to his office, you would find him there. He truly devoted his life to the university, and his leadership style inspired others to do the same.”
Among the other speakers at the funeral were: University System of Maryland Regent Alicia Hoffman for Chancellor William Kirwan, who was unable to attend; The Honorable Daniel M. Long, judge, Somerset County Circuit Court; Dr. William DeLauder, president emeritus, Delaware State University; Reverend Irving Knight, retired; Robert Cook, former chairperson, Greater Salisbury Committee; Jessie Cottman Smith, librarian emeritus, UMES; Charles D. Gregg, UMES alumnus and past president, UMES National Alumni Association; The Honorable Paul Sarbanes, former U.S. Senator; The Honorable Roy Dyson, Maryland State Senator; Frank White, president, Princess Anne Commissioners; Dr. Mortimer Neufville, executive vice president, National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges; Suzanne Street, director, UMES Office of Public Relations; Dr. Eddie Boyd, faculty, UMES Department of Mathematics and Computer Science; Norman Tilghman, lay speaker, Metropolitan United Methodist Church, and director, UMES Upward Bound program; Reverend Theodore Day, pastor, Ebenezer United Methodist Church; and Dr. William Percy Hytche Jr., dean of students, Tennessee State University.
While several standing ovations occurred during the funeral service, Princess Anne Town Commissioner White received a minute-long standing ovation for his announcement informing the congregation that a street in Princess Anne will be named for its late citizen, Hytche, for his contributions to the Town of Princess Anne.
A final memorial service will be held at the Holsey Chapel C.M.E. Church in Tulsa, OK, on Tuesday, July 24, at 11 a.m. Hytche’s body will be interred at Green Acres Memorial Garden in Skiatook, OK, immediately following the service.
Suzanne Waters Street, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355,firstname.lastname@example.org, www.umes.edu.