Honored for 50 Years at Hotel
When Joseph Goverman started his job at the Statler Hotel, he was 19 years old, Harry S. Truman was president of the United States and Washington was still a genteel southern city.
Today, after working there for 50 years, most of that time as a bellman, Goverman has seen the hotel at 16th and K streets NW transition from $6.50-a-night rooms to the Capital Hilton with its posh $50 million renovations and $169-a-night regular rooms. And Goverman, 69, has come a long way since making $19 a week as an elevator operator in 1949. After four years of working his way up in other jobs at the hotel, he says, he decided to remain a bellman because he made a good living, he wanted to support his family and most of all because he loves his job.
"The place is much better to work now because the rooms are bigger and people are happier," Goverman said. "Over the years, the hotel got better, and better, and better, and it's just a nice place to work. The people are nice who come in here. They truly make this job enjoyable."
Last month, Goverman received proclamations from District Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the president of Hilton Hotels Corp., along with Hilton Hotels stock, at a reception celebrating his 50 years of service. The reception was hosted by the hotel's general manager, Frank D. Otero, who said Goverman "is a legend in the hospitality industry. He learned the business during a time when all of America was kinder, more dignified and gracious, and those skills have served him well for half a century."
During his career, Goverman said that he has had a chance to meet all kinds of famous people, including Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. He has talked, briefly, with various presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.
One of his most memorable encounters was with the wife of a millionaire. "I got up to where she was standing, and all of the bellmen had disappeared," he said. He realized why everyone had disappeared and left him to take care of her 15 bags when she barked commands at him. He continued to help her courteously. She in turn gave him a big tip, and complimented him on being one of the best bellmen she had ever had. After that encounter, she requested him every time she stayed at the hotel.
"I've learned to be polite to people, to treat people with courtesy and treat people like you would like to be treated," Goverman said. "You'll get a long way with that. Now if you're not that way, then you're in the wrong business."
Goverman lives in Bowie with his wife and has three children. He said that he has not set a date yet for his retirement.
Card Contest Winner
Last fall, thousands of children from across the country entered a contest to create the perfect homemade Mother's Day card. Timothy Bryant, a sixth-grader at Bruce Monroe Elementary School, was selected as the winner from Washington. He and 50 state winners each received a Picture Atlas of the World, a Picture Atlas of Prehistoric Life and $25 in gift certificates to take their moms out to dinner on Mother's Day.
His card read, "A mother is a lady that cares for the child that they brought into this world. Like you. I love you. Happy Mother's Day."
As a state winner, Timothy will compete for first prize, which includes having the winning card printed and sold at Hallmark Gold Crown stores.
Joshua Safran Foer
Joshua Safran Foer, a junior at Georgetown Day School, is one of 25 students from across the country selected to receive a 1999 Bronfman Youth Fellowship. The program is designed to develop future community leaders who are committed to the concept of Jewish unity.
Currently, Joshua is editor-in-chief of his school newspaper, captain of his school's College Bowl/"It's Academic" team and a student council member. He will spend five weeks studying in Israel.
Essay Contest Winners
Ten District public school students were honored for their award-winning essays at a ceremony last month sponsored by Global Harmony through Personal Excellence Inc. The nonprofit, volunteer-run organization challenged students to write about a time when they were either honest or dishonest in a difficult situation. Certificates and cash prizes were awarded ranging from $15 to $100.
The following students were given awards in the Elementary Division: Delante Venson, a fourth-grader at Stevens Elementary, first place; Rachel Okunubi, a sixth-grader at Hardy Middle School, second place; Andrew Chester, a fifth-grader at Francis Scott Key Elementary, third place; Kalvin Rudisill, a sixth-grader at Garrison Elementary, fourth place; and Deonte Woodson, a fifth-grader at Garfield Elementary, fifth place.
In the Junior High Division, the following winners were honored: Colin Hughes, an eighth-grader at Hardy Middle, first place; Viola Brooks, a seventh-grader at Jefferson Jr. High, second place; Rickey De'Andre Wright, a seventh-grader at Garnet-Patterson Middle, third place; Antonia Garrett, a seventh-grader at Garnet-Patterson Middle, fourth place; and April Harrison, a ninth-grader at Shaw Jr. High, fifth place.
The D.C. Tar Wars program has named three student winners of its 1999 poster contest. Tar Wars is a national pro-health, tobacco-free education program aimed at keeping children from using tobacco products. The curriculum is presented to fifth-graders by family physicians and other health care professionals. Students then get the opportunity to submit posters depicting the positive effects of remaining tobacco free.
This year, Ann Pope, of Oyster Bilingual Elementary School, won the poster contest. She received a $250 savings bond from the D.C. Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and attended the national contest last weekend. Susana Perez-Bradford, also of Oyster Bilingual Elementary, was first runner-up, and Jerrell Grooms, of Simon Elementary, was second runner-up. They received savings bonds of $150 and $100 respectively.
10-year-old Scholarship Winners
Ten 10-year-olds from District public schools will receive $2,500 scholarship grants upon entering college. The students are part of the "10 Who Are 10" program sponsored by the J.W. Marriott Hotel. Forty-seven schools each submitted one 10-year-old candidate who presented a written, artistic, music or dance interpretation of the 1999 theme "It's more blessed to be best than to be second-guessed."
The scholarship recipients are Christine Buras, of Horace Mann Elementary; Tia Garrett, of J.C. Nalle Elementary; Biu Hu, of Seaton Elementary; Margarita Juarez, of Bancroft Elementary; Giavanni Kinsale, of Brookland Elementary; James Lane, of Stuart-Hobson Elementary; DaShawn Montgomery, of Slowe Elementary; Virginia Ryan, of Francis Scott Key Elementary; Karima Scott, of Walker-Jones Elementary; and DeForest Watkins, of Sharpe Heath Elementary.
CAPTION: Joseph Goverman has been working at the hotel now known as the Capital Hilton for 50 years. He started there at age 19 and four years later decided to remain a bellman because he made a good living.