After receiving the 2019 Mid-Shore Distinguished Citizen Award from the Del-Ma-Va Council of the Boy Scouts of America last Tuesday night, Aug. 20, at the Tred Avon Yacht Club, Dick Bodorff reacted in his typical fashion before about 200 people.
With notable humility.
He thanked everyone for their support of the Boy Scouts, enabling many to participate who otherwise might not. He then paid special recognition to representatives of the Academy Art Museum, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) and the YMCA of the Chesapeake—all organizations with which he has been, or still is affiliated.
Once he completed his brief remarks, Richard Tilghman, the emcee, rightly said that by deflecting any self-congratulation, Bodorff showed why he is an “‘amazing person.’ “
I’ve known Dick Bodorff particularly well for roughly five years. His quiet, understated manner and wry sense of humor bely a terribly effective attorney and civic leader. We have served together for most of that time—except when he was chairman of the board of the YMCA—on the board of governors of CBMM.
I got to know this gentleman when he chaired the search committee for a new CBMM president. I was amazed and impressed. While juggling the demands of his communications law practice at Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, DC, he led an intense six-month effort to hire a search firm and then conduct a search that resulted in the hiring of Kristen Greenaway. It was not unusual to receive emails sent by Bodorff late at night.
A man of many talents, he holds the rank of Eagle Scout and a Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow. He joined the Boy Scouts in his hometown of Rockford, ILL.
I’ve met in recent years several former Eagle Scouts, who, like retired members of the U.S. Marine Corps, still hold scouting dear to their hearts. Invariably, they will talk about their long-ago Eagle Scout projects and sometimes a favorite mentor. These men have enjoyed successful careers and devoted themselves to the betterment of their communities.
The Boy Scouts provide an opportunity for young men and women to learn teamwork, mission accomplishment and service above self. The latter is most important and lasting in my book of expectations; truly selfless actions are genuine.
Scouts seem to take to heart the Scout Law: “to help people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
A young neighbor of mine, now in his second year at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), became an Eagle Scout, the first in his family. When we met to talk about his application to USMMA, I asked him why his scouting experience meant so much to him. He zeroed in on teamwork and the opportunity to grow and mature in environments outside the comfort zone of one’s home.
At the recognition ceremony for Bodorff, at least two speakers mentioned that scouting is an antidote to today’s societal problems. They meant drugs and destructive behavior. While they were beating the drum for the intrinsic value of the Boy Scouts, they also were referring to other activities that enable young men and women to pursue healthy endeavors away from the temptations of drugs and alcohol. Organized sports provide the same disciplined environment, as do drama and musical groups.
My friend Dick Bodorff was an ideal choice. In his modest but determined way, he has achieved great success in the legal and philanthropic worlds. He is a decent person with many friends and admirers.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.