York City set to remember Appell on First Friday

David Weissman
  • A candlelight remembrance for Louis Appell will be held 8:30-9 p.m. Friday in Continental Square.

Louis Appell Jr. often sought to avoid recognition during his life, but his impact on downtown York has proven impossible to ignore for local residents — whether they'd met him or not — since his death Monday evening.

Susan McDaniel, a fiber artist and photo stylist in York City, said she never actually met Appell, but she feels she has a debt to pay the prominent businessman and philanthropist.

"He made such a difference in so many people's lives," McDaniel said, pointing to the numerous revitalization efforts Appell aided with his time and money. "Everyone in the city owes him, whether they know it or not."

Louis Appell Jr. and his wife, Jody, ride in a Pedi Cab during First Friday in downtown York.

McDaniel moved to downtown York from Washington, D.C., about 20 years ago, she said, and she wasn't particularly excited about moving from a big city to "the middle of nowhere."

"York is becoming a community I actually want to live in," she said. "This is my home, and a lot of that has to do with (Appell's) investments."

McDaniel said she's been in mourning and, along with many of her friends, has been seeking a way to say goodbye.

Remembrance: Meagan Feeser, marketing director for Downtown Inc, said she's heard numerous requests for a community gathering to honor Appell's memory because she's heard that the funeral services will be private.

A representative at Kuhner Associates Funeral Inc., which will handle the official proceeding, said Wednesday afternoon funeral directors still hadn't met with Appell's family to discuss details.

As a result, Downtown Inc has posted a Facebook event for a candlelight remembrance in Appell's honor from 8:30 to 9 p.m. Friday in  Continental Square. Nearly 115 people have replied that they are interested or will attend as of Wednesday afternoon.

Feeser said Downtown Inc has ordered candles, but this is not a Downtown Inc event.

The "impromptu gathering" won't have official speeches but will instead just be a chance for mourners to have conversations about "a man who did so much for this community," Feeser said.

First Friday: Feeser said the event appropriately follows First Friday, which Appell always attended when his health permitted him to do so.

Coincidentally, Appell aided many of the organizations and businesses participating in First Friday.

One of those companies is Royal Square Development (RSDC), whose president and CEO, Josh Hankey, wrote in a statement Tuesday that many of his business' projects would have been delayed or impossible without Appell.

Alex Dwyer, who owns or manages numerous properties in Royal Square, said Friday's theme, Christmas in July, is helping relive a special memory she shares with Appell.

Last Christmas, Dwyer and her neighbors surprised Appell by lighting up Royal Square with more lights than he'd seen in a downtown neighborhood in a long time, she said.

"It was a magical moment," she said. "He was almost in tears. ... I'll never forget that moment."

Dwyer said the plan is to turn on those lights again this Friday.

Dwyer and McDaniel both said they definitely plan to attend the candlelight remembrance Friday night. McDaniel added that she hopes more can be done to honor Appell, such as an annual event.

Feeser said it's still too early for anything to be in the works, but she believes Appell's name will start being brought up more in future dedications downtown.

Currently, the only known dedications to Appell are his initials on a plaque in PeoplesBank Park and the Appell Life Sciences Building at York College.

"Everyone is just trying to figure out how to go about honoring him in a respectful way," Feeser said, referring to Appell's modest nature. "It's not going to be any one thing that does it."

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.