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About Howard T. Ennis Sr.

Howard T. Ennis Sr. was born on a farm near Dover on July 17, 1889, the son of Presley Ennis and Annie Vaughn Ennis.  He was educated in rural schools and the Dover High School, from which he graduated in 1908.  He attended the University of Delaware then known as Delaware College, for four years, graduating in 1912 with the Degree of Bachelor of Arts.  While in college, he won recognition for both scholastic and athletic achievements.  He was class president, Editor-in-Chief of the Blue Hen and The Review, and on the varsity football and track teams.

Following graduation he went into the field of education, teaching first at Dover High School, then serving as principal of the Lewes High School, and subsequently as Superintendent of Schools in New Castle.  He long considered going into the ministry, and served as lay minister of the St. Marks United Methodist Church at Stanton, for a period of time, while engaging in other educational activities.

During the first World War he served with the Coast Artillery in Battery A, Sixtieth Regiment, at Fortress Monroe, Virginia.  Following discharge in December, 1918, he taught mathematics at Haverford Preparatory School in Haverford, Pennsylvania.  Becoming interested in the field of mental retardation, he studied at the Vineland Training School for the Mentally Retarded at Vineland, New Jersey, under Dr. Edward Johnstone.  On January 1, 1921, he became the first Superintendent of the Hospital for the Mentally Retarded at Stockley, then known as the Delaware Colony.  He remained in charge of that institution for more than 30 years, until retirement in 1952.  He was greatly aided in his work there, particularly during the early years, by his wife, Ann Rolin Kelly, of Lewes and Philadelphia, daughter of Captain John H. H. Kelly and Jennie Price Kelly, whom he married on June 9, 1920.

Following his retirement, he moved to Rehoboth Beach, where he maintained a residence continuously until his death and became a familiar figure to many, although following the death of his wife in 1962, he spent much of each year at the U.S. Soldiers Home in Washington D.C.

 Mr. Ennis was for many years a member of Dover Lodge No. 7, Free and Accepted Masons, the University Club of Wilmington and was a charter member of the Rehoboth Country Club.  He was active in the P.T.A and in April 1928, was elected President of the Delaware Parents and Teachers Association.  He was the last surviving charter member of the Georgetown-Millsboro Rotary Club, and found of the Lewes Rotary Club.

He was a charter member of Sussex Post No. 8 American Legion, in which he was awarded a life membership in 1966.  In 1927 he was Delaware State Commander of the American Legion.  In 1937-1938 he served as a national executive committeeman from Delaware and later became national vice-commander of the American Legion.  He was also one of the founders of the Boys State program in Delaware that was sponsored by the American Legion.

Through his mother, he was a close relative of U.S. Senator J. Caleb Boggs.  He was a member of the S.A.R. and traced his ancestry back to Lord Chancellor Vaughn of England, one of the framers of the Magna Carta.  Mr. Ennis had journeyed with his son to England in July, 1971, to attend the Convention of American Bar Association, and visited the tomb of his ancestor in Westminster Abbey.

The School for Trainables at the Delaware Technical and Community College at Georgetown was recently re-named “The Howard T. Ennis School” in recognition of his services in his state and as an educator and administrator.

This article reprinted with permission from the front page of the Sussex Countian, June 22, 1972