A United Voice for Action and Civic Improvement

History of GHADA

In early 1967, at the urging of the Hockessin Community Club, “a small group of interested people met to discuss what could be done to create some kind of organization in the (Hockessin) area so that some immediate problems and some other fast becoming problems might be handled in an orderly and democratic manner.” So wrote Francis J. Swift as he recalled the events that set in motion the creation of GHADA, Greater Hockessin Area Development Association. This small planning group worked together, and on May 2, 1967 Hockessin had its first town meeting (of recent history) at the Hockessin Fire engine room.

More than a hundred people came to that meeting, including several individuals who are still associated with GHADA. The town meeting defined community priorities as: 1. Traffic Control; 2. Police Protection; 3. Park Land and Community Recreation; 4. Local Sanitation; 5. Street Lighting.

A group of 16 organizing delegates was selected to establish a new community organization with by-laws and committees. The group worked over the summer to define the Greater Hockessin Area Development Association. The leaders acted immediately on community input from that meeting and made arrangements with the School Board to use local school facilities for recreation during the summer of 1967.

A second town meeting was held October 24, 1967 and reports were presented from the following committees: Constitution and By-Laws; Beautification; Parks and Recreation; Legislative; Planning and Zoning; Public Works; Public Relations; and Liaison. A permanent group of 25 directors was elected and the By-Laws were approved. The County Attorney was the guest speaker at this meeting. From the beginning the scope of GHADA’s activity was broad based and focused on the whole community.

The permanent GHADA Board met November 8, 1967 and established the following officers:

President – Francis J. Swift
Vice President – Dr. James Hughes
Treasurer – Nestor Lopez
Secretary – Mrs. T. R. Woods

The subsequent presidents of GHADA are listed below. It is noteworthy that Francis Swift was elected a member of New Castle County Council in 1972.

1967 to 2014 – Over the past 46 years GHADA has focused its efforts on community development plans, programs for community improvement and the specific problems of civic associations. Community safety, schools, recreation, quality of the environment, and of course, zoning, development and land use have been of primary importance. An early concern was monitoring water levels to ensure adequate supply and quality of community ground water. GHADA was a leader in establishing lighting and signs at road intersections for improved safety.

GHADA worked cooperatively with such community groups as the Hockessin Community Club, Hockessin/Yorklyn Lions, Historic Red Clay Valley Association and others to sponsor, plan and conduct community events including the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. The dedication of the Hockessin Bicentennial Park was a highlight of the celebration. GHADA was instrumental in working with New Castle County to establish the park, later renamed the Francis J. Swift Memorial Park. GHADA continues to be a sponsor of the very successful Hockessin Fourth of July parade.

Over the last 15 years GHADA’s focus has been predominately on land use and development issues as the Hockessin community has grown rapidly. GHADA attempts to represent the whole community as well as specific civic groups that can be affected by new and planned development. Of particular concern has been maintaining the quality of the Cockeysville aquifer, providing adequate water, sewer and road infrastructure and preserving the residential character of our community.

Today GHADA has 42-member Board of Directors and unofficially represents the Hockessin area community including about 100 civic and maintenance associations. GHADA has established a good reputation with New Castle County Council and the County Executive and is consulted by developers and elected officials and Delaware agencies on proposed development and community plans. Current priorities include improvements of roads within the community, standards and plans to control outdoor advertising signs, increasing our interaction with additional civic groups, active planning and development of more community events in cooperation with other Hockessin community groups. GHADA intends to remain faithful to the original purpose of its founders in 1967 as stated in the By-Laws:

The purpose of the Greater Hockessin Development Association shall be to identify problems or areas of concern to the residents and businesses of the Greater Hockessin area, to analyze the problems, to serve as an instrument through which the united voice of the Greater Hockessin area may be expressed, to promote civic improvements, and to take whatever action necessary to attain our goals.

GHADA membership is open to anyone within the Greater Hockessin Area who attends the meetings and indicates an interest in GHADA’s objectives including individuals, civic and home owners associations, business people, and elected and non-elected government officials. GHADA continues to attempt to involve the whole community. The organization is always looking for community ideas, concerns and volunteers. Board members are elected to three year terms with one third of the board elected each year at the May meeting. Vacancies in the interim may be filled by the President until a new Director can be elected at the next annual meeting.

Written by: Boyd Sorenson and Lee Murch May, 1993
Updated 2001, 2008 (JWD)

GHADA Presidents

1967 – Francis Swift
1968 – Francis Swift
1969 – James Hughes
1970 –
1971 – Bob Tarney
1972 –
1973 –
1974 – John Drysdale
1975 – John Drysdale
1976 – Lee Murch
1977 – Lee Murch
1978 – Lyle Hartman
1979 – Neil Campbell
1980 – Ed Howard
1981 – Ed Howard
1982 – Cliff Kratzer
1983 – Randy Blackmer
1984 – Randy Blackmer
1985 – Eugena Mitchell
1986 – Kay Lord
1987 – Kay Lord
1988 – Kay Lord
1989 – CJ Seitz
1990 – CJ Seitz 90-91
1991 – Kent Jordan/Wayne Merritt 91-92
1992 – Boyd Sorenson 92-93
1993 – Janet Kilpatrick 93-94
1994 – Wayne Merritt 94-95
1995 – Wayne Merritt 95-96
1996 – Wayne Merritt 96-97
1997 – Wayne Merritt/CJ Seitz 97-98
1998 – Ken Murphy 98-99
1999 – Ken Murphy 99-00
2000 – Ken Murphy 00-01
2001 – Ken Murphy 01-02
2002 – Ken Murphy 02-03
2003 – Ken Murphy 03-04
2004 – Ken Murphy 04-05
2005 – Ken Murphy 05-06
2006 – John Flanagan 06-07
2007 – John Flanagan 07-08
2008 – Francis J. Swift, Jr. 08-09
2009 – Francis J. Swift, Jr. 09-10
2010 – Mark Blake 10-11
2011 – Mark Blake 11-12
2012 – Francis J. Swift, Jr. 12-13
2013 – Francis J. Swift, Jr. 13-14
2014 – Francis J. Swift, Jr. 14-15
2015 – Francis J. Swift, Jr. 15-16
2016 – Francis J. Swift, Jr. 16-17
2017 – Mark Blake 17-18
2018 – Mark Blake 18-19
2019 – Mark Blake 19-20
2020 – Mark Blake 20-21

Written by: Boyd Sorenson and Lee Murch May,1993

Updated 2014, 2018, 2020 (Trish Cavender)