Making Her Mark
On Annapolis History
When she was sworn in
as alderman for Ward 3 on Dec. 3, Classie Gillis Hoyle was fulfilling
a dream---a dream whose seeds were sown when she and Daniel, her
husband of 46 years, returned to Annapolis a decade ago to fulfill
a lifelong desire to help others.
hope that I'm remembered as someone who always had the time to
help," she says. "As an alderperson, I'm eager to help the city
get things done and to have a positive impact on our city's history."
Hoyle is already part of an historic term for mayor and Council.
Not only will she serve with the first woman mayor in the history
of Annapolis, but the City Council is also, for the first time,
composed of five women and three African Americans. Hoyle believes
that, thanks to this historic roster, the new Council will be
one of the best Annapolis has ever seen. "I'm not the only one
who thinks so," she says. "After the election, the newspapers
analyzed the level of activity of the new members of the Council
and all indications show that we will be a productive one."
A native of Annapolis, Hoyle was born in the home in which she
currently lives and spent the first three years of her life in
Annapolis. Then tragedy struck her family with the death of her
father, and her mother moved the family, which included a younger
brother and sister, for family support. "We were poor but proud,"
she says. "My mom held two jobs to support us---in a factory and
in a restaurant. We were latch- key kids before the term became
Hoyle remembers that her mother, who was a good seamstress, always
made sure they had special outfits for events. She also made sure
they each got one new toy at Christmas. One holiday season still
sticks in Hoyle's mind. Everyone she knew was getting bikes that
year, she explains, but her mother told Hoyle and her siblings
that there was no way she could afford them. When Christmas morning
arrived, the children found used bikes under the tree all fixed
up and ready to go. "We didn't have much, but we came out of it
with a strong character," says Hoyle. "It also taught us creativity
and ingenuity that helped us later in life."
After growing up in Baltimore, Hoyle earned her bachelor's and
master's degrees in biology and science education at Morgan State
University and spent more than a decade teaching at the university
and in the Baltimore public schools. Upon receiving her Ph.D.
in science education and higher education administration from
the University of Iowa, she went on to accept an instructor position
and, later, several administrative positions at the university.
She also served as vice president of academic affairs for Clark
College in Dubuque, Iowa.
Hoyle, who is now an adjunct faculty member at the Annapolis branch
of Soujourner-Douglas College in Baltimore, found her way back
to Maryland in the late '80s. At that time, she took a leave of
absence from the University of Iowa and accepted a job at the
National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. When the two-year-long
job was complete, she decided it was time to come home. It just
felt right. "I really enjoy the small town feel of Annapolis and
the richness it has to offer. It really is a big little city,"
Hoyle says. "People know each other here, and they stop to talk
to each other on the streets. It's comfortable."
When she returned to Annapolis, she also returned to her roots.
She moved into her grandmother's home, which she had purchased
in 1973. She and her husband did some extensive remodeling of
the house shortly after they moved in, and her uncle resided with
them until his death. Hoyle said that friends kept asking them
why they were putting so much money into such an old house, located
in such an old neighborhood. "Because it has so much sentimental
value," she explains. "Not only was I born there, but it was my
grandmother's home, then my uncle's, and I even spent part of
my childhood there."
Ties to the past are important to Hoyle, and the project she hopes
will be the legacy of her term as an alderman is the creation
of a permanent history of the Parole area. Currently, there is
no documented history of the area, and she would like to work
with the community to establish one that would include a heritage
trail. Early in her term, she would like to start meeting with
leaders in the community to gain their support because she knows
this is a project she can't do alone. "There are many people who
have lived in the area for 50, 60 or 70 years," she says. "Since
I've mentioned this project, some of them have already given me
materials and pictures to include. I think once the work becomes
visible people will want to get on the bandwagon, and it will
Hoyle, whose first name Classie came from a dream her father had,
is an active member of her community. She belongs to eight local
organizations, including the PTA and Neighborhood Watch, and serves
in leadership roles in four of those organizations, including
the YWCA. According to Hoyle, she tends to take on a lot and is
quite busy most of the time. But when she actually does have a
little spare time on her hands, she doesn't sit back and relax.
Instead she's off to interesting places around the world such
as Spain, Japan, Germany and Italy. "I love to travel and used
to do it quite often," she says. "I love meeting people and dealing
with them. I think that's why I wanted to be a part of the City
Hoyle's favorite trip was one to South Africa. While there, she
not only stayed in five-star hotels, but also in villages with
tribe members and went on safari. But the best part of the trip,
she says, was the people, and the highlight occurred when she
met Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. "It was amazing," she says.
"These are people you read about in the paper and see on TV. I
was able to meet them face-to-face."
As she steps into office, Hoyle, who has a son, daughter and six
granddaughters, has several items on her list of priorities. She
hopes to help create affordable public housing in Annapolis, a
project for which she sees a real need, and wants to get the ball
rolling on putting sidewalks on Forest Drive because of the recent
increase in pedestrian and bike traffic. According to Hoyle, there
is at least one vehicular accident a year involving a pedestrian
or bicyclist on this stretch of road. That's one accident too
many, in her opinion.
"I hope that as part of the City Council I can work with my fellow
alderpersons to satisfy and resolve issues that face Annapolis.
I'm looking forward to working with them all," she says. "The
quote 'let the work I've done speak for me' says it all for me."