‘What Gibbons Means To Me’ – Wayne McDowell, ’67

Wayne McDowell, '67, receives 'Businessman of the Year' award from the Catonsville Chamber of Commerce

This is the first in a series of stories written by those whose lives have been impacted by The Cardinal Gibbons School.

I was very fortunate to be able to go to Gibbons during the first 10 years when the Archdiocese subsidized each student by almost 50 percent of the real cost of tuition. Gibbons was $125 and St. Joe was approximately $250. It was tough to get in and at one time there were well over 1100 students at the school from all neighborhoods in and around the city.

The faculty of Marianist Brothers, lay teachers and coaches were outstanding and very dedicated to their mission of Catholic Education in mind, body, and most importantly, spirit.

I graduated in “67 and the Vietnam War was a part of the reality of the 60’s.
I went in the Army after a short college stint and found that my self confidence and motivation to” be all that I could be,” were a perfect fit for service to our country. After all the stateside training, jump school and deployment to Vietnam I proudly served with the 5th Special Forces Group, “the Green Berets,” earning a Bronze Star.

Was I ever scared? Yes. Did I ever question my ability to perform my duty? NO. I always felt that I was given the strength and ability to perform because of the powerful influence of my teachers and coaches at Gibbons and my strong faith in Jesus Christ.

I proudly served the Baltimore City Fire Dept. for 29 years after the service and never lost that ingrained confidence that I attribute to my Gibbons experience. Gibbons is still the place where young men, such as myself, are given the chance to find that they too can be all that they can be.

Wayne McDowell, owner of McDowell’s Complete Chimney Cleaning Service, Inc., can be seen around town wearing his a suit coat with a bright red patch sewn onto the back that reads “Save Cardinal Gibbons School.” Wayne, Class of ’67, has been one of the most vocal representatives in the effort, appearing on Dan Rodrick’s radio show on WYPR and talking to reporters from the Baltimore Sun to the New York Times. He can be heard on National Public Radio’s “Here and Now” program on May 3 with Chris Ballman at 2:30 p.m.


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