Hope Gallagher first met Coretta Scott King more than 30 years ago, when she was a teenager on a church trip to Atlanta. Gallagher was visiting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s home there, which is now part of the National Park Service.

She wanted to make history on the trip, she said.

“Me and a girlfriend of mine snuck away, crawled up under the ropes and sat on the furniture,” the Galloway Township resident recalled. “We wanted to be able to say we sat in his chair. Then we went back with the tour guide.” Nobody ever knew.

All of the students got to shake Mrs. King’s hand, but no pictures were allowed. She was disappointed. She wanted a photo to remember the big day.

About a dozen years ago, Gallagher was at a Black Music Entertainment luncheon in Atlanta. She ran into King in the hallway.

“I said, ‘Mother King, it’s an honor to meet you. Can I have my picture taken with you?’ and she said, ‘Sure, baby,’” said the retired assistant municipal tax collector for Atlantic City.

Three years ago her daughter Hope, 28, who now lives in Atlanta, was at the King Museum there and ran into King’s children Bernice King and Martin Luther King III. She had her photo taken with them and told them about her mom’s meetings with their mom.

“She called me all excited,” the elder Hope said. “In the future, I hope her children have the opportunity to go and meet someone from the King family.”

But she won’t encourage them to follow in her footsteps, under the ropes and onto the furniture.

Jazz award for Mesterhazy

The late George Mesterhazy’s longtime life partner, Vicki Watson, of Cape May, will accept the Somers Point Jazz Society 2013 Jazz Master award for him at 5 p.m. March 10 at Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro in Somers Point, followed by a free performance by Barry Miles on piano, and Tim Lekan and Bob Shomo on drums.

Mesterhazy, who headed the jazz piano program at Rowan University, died last April at age 59. His family fled Hungary after the 1956 revolution and settled in Atlantic City. Mesterhazy was nominated for a Grammy for his arrangement on 1997's "Loving You," with Shirley Horn. He played with Pat Martino, Les Paul, Bernadette Peters, Gene Ammons and others. For more information, call 609-927-6677.

Guidance counselor honored

David Vorndran, guidance supervisor at Millville Senior High School, was given the “High School Guidance Administrator of the Year 2013 Award” by Cumberland County College, for excellence in helping students transition to CCC.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219