The 2023 Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame class honorees are M.J. Eberhart of Olean, Missouri; Lester Kenway of Bangor, Maine; Brian King of Molers Crossroads, West Virginia; and the late Harry Rentschler of Reading, Pennsylvania.
Nimblewill’s friends thought this was unlikely to happen. They were right. In 2021, at age 83, the Nomad started the A.T. yet again, for a third time. In November, 2021, he finished the Trail, and became the oldest known person to hike it in one year. It was fitting that Nimblewill was met at the end by his friend, Dale “Greybeard” Sanders, the previous record holder. The two Trail champions toasted each other with glasses of champagne. Is the Nomad done hiking? No one who knows him would bet that he is.
Lester’s first trail crew experience was in 1972 as a member of the Bates Outing Club. Now a member of ATC and the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) for more than 45 years, Lester has chaired the sign committee, managed MATC’s Trail crew program, built shelters and trails and served as MATC’s President. Lester says his goal is to “build things once, and build them to last,” primarily using stone. He was a pioneer of using the Griphoist and other methods for moving stone that are now widely used on the A.T. and other trails. The late Bob Proudman called Lester “…the quintessential crew leader, always prepared with decades of trail-building experience”. Lester says building and maintaining trails “creates something good for people and something good for the earth.”
A native of Washington, D.C., Brian is a graduate of Georgetown University, and previously attended the University of the South and Northwestern University’s National Journalism Institute. Prior to joining ATC, Brian worked for the Charleston (S.C.) Evening Post, the Colorado Springs Sun, the Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ford Foundation.
Rentschler’s property in the Reading suburb of Bernville became the headquarters for BMECC’s construction of their portion of the A.T. and later maintenance projects. Two A.T. shelters, Eagles Nest and Rausch Gap, were constructed there and then transported to the Trail. Dr. Rentschler willed his property to BMECC and today the Rentschler Arboretum is the headquarters of that club, by far the oldest one based in the Keystone State maintaining the Trail.
Twelve classes have previously been elected to the A.T. Hall of Fame. The Charter Class, elected in 2011, comprised Myron Avery, Gene Espy, Ed Garvey, Benton MacKaye, Arthur Perkins and Earl Shaffer. Members of the 2012 class were Emma Gatewood, David Richie, J. Frank Schairer, Jean Stephenson and William Adams Welch. The 2013 Class was Ruth Blackburn, David Field, David Sherman, David Startzell and Eddie Stone. The 2014 Class was A. Rufus Morgan, Chuck Rinaldi, Clarence Stein and Pamela Underhill. The 2015 Class was Ned Anderson, Margaret Drummond, Stanley Murray and Raymond Torrey. In 2016, Maurice J. Forrester, Jr., Horace Kephart, Larry Luxenberg and Henry Arch Nichols were inducted. The 2017 Class was Harlean James, Charles Parry, Mildred Norman Ryder and Tillie Wood. In 2018, William Kemsley, Jr., Elizabeth Levers, George Masa and Bob Peoples were elected. Members of the 2019 Class were Jean Cashin, Paul Fink, Don King and Bob Proudman. The 2020 Class was Chris Brunton, Thurston Griggs, Warren Doyle and Jim Stoltz. Harvey Broome, Stephen Clark, Thomas Johnson and Marianne Skeen comprised the 2021 class. The 2022 class was Jim & Molly Denton, JoAnn & Paul Dolan, Laurie Potteiger and Tom Speaks.
The 2023 Hall of Fame Class will be honored at the Hall of Fame Induction event on Sunday, September 10, 2023. Additional details will be announced soon.