Category Archives: Member profile

Sean Glisson — Member Profile

Sean Glisson was born with a heart of gold and an unflinching passion for history. He packed so much into his 51 years. He traveled, chased his dreams, fell in love, became a father, mentored youth, consumed history books, cherished the Phillies, and worked in a profession he loved.

Born in Maple Shade, NJ, Sean graduated from Holy Cross High School in 1989. He went on to graduate with Honors from Rutgers University with a double major in history and finance (and proudly without debt), and was Vice President of Underwriting for Republic Bank.

As a devoted husband of 26 years to Nadine (Scurria) Glisson, and dad to their three sons Evan, Alexander, and Gabriel, Sean loved vacations, the beach, and grilling for his family in the backyard. He was a fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Villanova, and Notre Dame football, and had a fabulous sense of humor that caused uproarious laughter in those around him. Sean was like a second son to his in-laws, Tom Scurria (Old Baldy member) and his wife Valerie.

With relentless energy and enthusiasm, Sean pursued a greater understanding of history by reading books on the American Civil War, the Revolutionary War, WWII, the French & Indian War. His personal library was extensive.

Concerning the Civil War, Sean was a reenactor for over 25 years and introduced his sons, Alexander and Gabriel, to the hobby and tradition. Sean was interested in all aspects of the war – military, political and economic, and was inclined toward military campaigns. He had visited either through reenacting or trips, most of the major battle sites from the Mississippi east. With his son, Alex, Sean traveled as far as Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and the Carolinas. He was affiliated with the 3rd Alabama and 14th North Carolina. Tom recalls the concern many years ago with his then very young grandson, Alexander, traveling so far with Sean for Alexander’s first reenactment. “His wife told Sean to make sure nothing happens to Alex. Within their first 10 minutes at the Neshaminy State Park camping visit, Alex ran directly into a pole which left a GIANT welt and “egg” on his forehead! Sean was so afraid of how much trouble he was going to be in when he arrived back home with our “son” that the guys teased him about it all weekend!”

Sean loved traveling, and he and Tom spent the weeks before his untimely death on a twelve-day Stephan Ambrose tour following the Louis & Clark Expedition (1804-06), beginning in Great Falls, Montana and ending 2,000 miles away in Astoria, Washington. Both men, avid readers with book collections that Thomas Jefferson would have envied, already knew that Jefferson sponsored Meriwether Lewis to put together the team to explore the territories that were part of the Louisiana Purchase. There were large regions no white man had ever seen. The Ambrose tour was important to Sean. “We both wanted to understand the who’s, why’s and reasons our incredible country was founded, and the basis of our government. The Expedition was truly one of the greatest and most difficult explorations in world history. It changed the history of the United States.” The 19th century expedition opened the vast west to the migration from the east and foreign immigration to take advantage of the American dreams of exploration, ownership of homes and farms, and many other basic human drives for progress. “This region is also intimately linked to the founding of our country, Napoleon, the Spanish and British and the expansion west. It was another proof that the brilliant documents of our founding – the Declaration and the Constitution – worked.”

Sean heard about Old Baldy after meeting Harry Jenkins, a Roundtable member for over 31 years. Harry was a customer at the Cinnaminson diner where Sean’s mother, Jane, waitressed. She saw Harry thumbing through a history magazine, knew Sean liked history, and made the introduction. From then on, Sean and Harry had maintained an extremely strong friendship. And Sean did eventually join Old Baldy 7 ½ years ago and served as secretary since 2019. He was co-chair with Tom in planning the Western Theater Symposium that was to be held at Rutgers University Camden this past April. Besides Old Baldy, Sean supported the American Battlefield Trust Preservation and was an official fan of the Delaware Valley soccer group “Sons of Ben” named after Benjamin Franklin.

This past June Sean, his family, Tom and Valerie, attended the grand opening of the Armed Forces Heritage Museum of Burlington, NJ, about 40 miles north from his home in Hammonton. What made this event so special to Sean was the unveiling of Alexander’s dioramas. In addition to reenacting and sewing his own uniforms from scratch, Alexander has an exceptional, self-taught ability to create dioramas. He has produced them for multiple wars. Alexander also provided an exhibit on WWII uniforms and equipment. The museum management appreciates his unflinching passion for history.

Profile written by Kim Weaver & Tom Scurria

Jim Mullen — Member Profile

Jim Mullen was born in October of 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Northeast Philadelphia alongside his two brothers and went to Northeast Catholic High School. During this time, he enjoyed playing sports with his friends, reading books such as Sherlock Holmes, and playing the saxophone in his school band. After high school, he decided to commute to Villanova University, which required trolley rides, train rides, and car rides from friends until he eventually got his own car. He took the LSAT while in college and received a score that got him a scholarship for Villanova Law School. He lived on campus and although it was hard, he enjoyed his law school experience. He graduated from Villanova Law School in 1960.

After graduation, Jim decided to look for work in New Jersey because that is where his family had moved to. He took a bar review course and passed the bar exam on his first try, becoming a New Jersey attorney. He got hired at a law firm in Camden where he did trail work. He liked working with other attorneys and he was happy with his successful career. He became a partner of the firm until it dissolved in 1998. He then went into private practice until 2015 when he decided to retire.

In 1963, Jim married Judith, a legal secretary he had met at a Christmas party. The couple have been married for almost 60 years and have had four children together: Jenny, Jim, Thomas, and Terry. Jenny, Thomas, and Terry followed in their father’s footsteps and became lawyers themselves. Jim and Judith enjoy traveling together, and they have visited multiple battlefields on their trips.

He became interested in the Civil War during high school when he read a series of books about the war written by Bruce Catton. His father was also interested in the topic. Jim would talk with his friends about the war and travel to related historical sites in his youth. He joined the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table with his friend while it was still located in Philadelphia. He loved traveling with the Old Baldy CWRT to visit the battlefield at Antietam. Besides the Civil War, he enjoys reading about local and country-wide politics.

Ed Komczyk — Member Profile

Long before he joined the Civil War Roundtable (and became Waldorf to Bill Sia’s Statler of Muppets fame), Ed Komczyk was a star-rank Boy Scout concerned about the environment.

Ed was born in 1939 in Woodbury, NJ and lived with his family in the Red Bank section of West Deptford where he was raised. He was about 12 years old when he discovered an oil slick in the river that appeared to generate from the local Texaco oil refinery near Red Bank Ave. and Front St. the place locals know as Soupy Island, a 15-acre parcel along the Delaware River in Gloucester County. That scene stayed with Ed and he vowed to help create through advocacy a cleaner, greener future for West Deptford. “Yes, I’m a tree hugger!”

At the independent age of 15, Ed started offering accordion lessons at Klayman’s Music Center in Woodbury. He was unsure if he was good enough at the instrument to teach others but it WAS the instrument of the 50s and enough people in the neighborhood seemed intrigued to learn it. He bought his first accordion in 1957 for $1700, a fortune then, but Ed assures us he was making the big bucks to afford it. That same year, as a senior at Paulsboro High School, Ed enrolled in a drafting training program offered by RCA in Camden, and upon completion of the program and his subsequent high school graduation, he was hired on. After a year at the company he left to work full-time at Klayman’s.

Ed’s accordion days came to an end when he enrolled at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) to major in science and math. It is mathematics that Ed would go on to teach for 33 years at Pennsauken High School, and where he would meet Miriam Reichenbach, an English teacher and reading specialist, and later in her career, a librarian who has been his loving wife for 35 years. “I was fortunate to be a teacher. I had a wonderful career. I know I impacted lives because I still get together with past students for dinner.”

Pennsauken High School played an important role in Ed’s now 25-year membership in Old Baldy CWRT. There he met with fellow teachers and Old Baldy members Bill Sia (American Government and History) and Bill Hughes (P.E and soccer coach). As union reps, Ed and Bill Sia worked together scrutinizing union contracts (“Bill Sia was my wingman”). And Bill Hughes is the one who asked Ed to tag along to an Old Baldy meeting. All three men have remained good friends and continue to support the Roundtable.

Like many Old Baldy members, Ed has been interested in the Civil War since high school. As he got older, though, his appreciation for the conflict deepened. “You age into loving history. I’d be driving down the interstate highway on really hot days and think about the troops marching in their wool uniforms and how tough they were.” Reconstruction, the period in American history that followed the Civil War – or what prominent historian Eric Foner called the nation’s second founding – is of particular interest to Ed.
“It was viewed as the formative stage of modern America – we had the underpinnings of a nation.”

Ed’s respect for military soldiers is evident in his admiration for 18th century Polish General and military engineer, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, who not only fought for democracy in the American Revolutionary War but also designed and built fortifications on the Delaware and Hudson rivers. Thomas Jefferson called Kosciuszko “as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known.” A book about the freedom fighter, The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution by Alex Storozynski sits on Ed’s bedside table. “He embodied the spirit of why we fought the war and why we exist today.”

Over the years, Ed has been honored for his restoration work on the USS New Jersey, berthed on the Delaware River and now a living museum and memorial in Camden, NJ. Together, he and Miriam serve on the West Deptford Environmental Commission: Ed as vice chair and Miriam as chairperson.

Today, Ed splits his leisure time between driving his Chevrolet C8 Corvette Stingray, flying (he’s been a licensed pilot for 50 years), and relearning the accordion. Two years ago he took it up again after 50-plus years of silence.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Marty Wilensky — Member Profile

Marty Wilensky was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the northeast section of the city, attending Northeast High School. At 16 he took a job at Burger Chef, working there the next 5½ years. After graduating high school, he attended Temple University, commuting from home. Marty paid for his tuition and expenses from the money he made at Burger Chef. Besides paying for college, his time at Burger Chef led to another life-changing event – it’s where Marty met his wife, Janice (she worked the counter while he had risen from burger flipper to assistant manager). They dated for several years and got married in 1973. They will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year.

Marty was a history major in college, where he focused on European history. However, senior year, he decided to take some accounting and business classes. After graduation, he continued taking accounting and business classes at Temple, earning enough business credits to take and pass the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) test in 1974.

After college, Marty held a couple of accounting jobs until September 1975, when he answered an ad for a local accounting firm, Blumberg, Seligman, Cupersmith & Company, LLP. The firm hired Marty as a CPA. He did well and was made partner in 1979. Many years later, in 2006, the firm split up, with Marty and Mr. Cupersmith forming Cupersmith, Wilensky, Stempler & Company, LLP. Marty is still a partner there, marking 47 years at the same firm and its successor.

Marty and Janice have three daughters and a son and four grandchildren. Their eldest daughter attended Gettysburg College, which resulted in many family outings to the battlefield at different times of the year while on college visits. She received her Master’s Degree in Micro-Biology from Johns Hopkins and lives with her husband and two children in California.

A second daughter is an engineer currently living in Ohio with her husband and twin boys. A third daughter is an attorney in Chicago, while their son is an attorney with the DC Capital Police. On January 6, 2021, he was monitoring the actions of the police officers during that day’s election protests. At some point, things escalated and he had a difficult time making it back safely to the police station when some protestors became more confrontational.

Marty taught his children the importance of history. In 1998, when the family took a vacation to Hawaii, he took them to Pearl Harbor so they would know what happened there and the sacrifices made by our military. Their visit to the Arizona Memorial was an emotional experience.

Marty enjoys reading about the Civil War. One of the first Civil War books he liked was Bruce Catton’s Grant Takes Command. He also enjoyed Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, as well as the various historical novels by Shaara’s son, Jeff.

In addition to history, Marty’s interests include Lionel trains. As a kid growing up, Marty remembers his dad setting up Lionel trains in the basement at Christmas and the fun he and his brothers had playing with them. So, when he and Janice moved into their home, Marty began collecting Lionel trains as well. He, too, set up his trains in the basement where his children could play with them. He still has his train collection, though they don’t see as much action now that his children have grown and moved on.

So how did Marty team up with Old Baldy? Well, a few years ago, one of our members, Harry Jenkins, happened to be driving by Marty’s office in Cherry Hill, NJ. Harry and Marty had been friends in Junior High School but had not seen each other in years. Harry saw Marty’s name on the firm’s sign and wondered whether this was the same Martin Wilensky he knew back in school. And in fact, it was. Marty ended up doing Harry’s taxes and Harry encouraged Marty to join the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table.

We are happy to have Marty as a member of Old Baldy. And all thanks to a fortuitous outing by his old Junior High School friend, Harry Jenkins.

By Jim Heenehan

Joe Fafara — Member Profile

Joseph Fafara was born in Roxborough, Philadelphia, in March of 1969. He grew up in Philadelphia and lived with his parents and brother in Marlboro. As a child, he enjoyed playing baseball, music, and the Civil War. He went to school at La Salle College High School, a private, Catholic, all-boys preparatory school in Philadelphia. After he graduated in 1987, he went to college at Temple University and graduated in 1992. He then went on to become a high school teacher for the School District of Philadelphia where he teaches U.S. history and U.S. government.

After meeting her at a wedding, Joseph married his wife Cathy in 1999. They had three daughters together named Jasmine, Abrielle, and Jordan. They now have two grandchildren, Alex and Alea, who live nearby and visit once a week. Joseph’s hobbies are similar to his hobbies as a child, as he watches baseball, listens to live music, and is still interested in the Civil War. He also enjoys playing the game Wordle and drinking craft beer. He and Cathy go on walks together on the Valley Green and Forbidden Drive trails in Philadelphia. They plan on retiring and moving to Nashville in two years.

He became interested in the Civil War when he read the Time-Life Civil War book series when he was in grade school. This series highlights the many battles and campaigns that took place during the war with each book focusing on a Civil War different topic. A childhood trip to the Gettysburg battlefield also piqued his interest. These things jump started a lifetime hobby and a career surrounding history. As well as the Civil War, Joseph is interested in history about U.S. presidents, the American Revolution, and Americans exploring the West.

Joseph joined the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table after he learned about the group in his time at Temple University. He is a member of many other history-related groups as well. The Surratt Society is a group dedicated to learning about the Lincoln assassination and the Surratt House. This group has monthly newsletters and plans tours to share information about the assassination and the events caused by it. The Blue and Gray Education Society raises money for the preservation of Civil War settings and plans tours surrounding early American history. The Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides of Gettysburg has events in Gettysburg for its members as well as a newsletter. The National Civil War Museum gives members access to free admission, tours with the curator, and a quarterly newsletter. The Adams County Historical Society houses artifacts and records pertaining to Gettysburg and raises funds for a new museum called Beyond the Battle.

Bill Sia — Member Profile

When you first meet William (Bill) Sia, you quickly notice his sense of humor. Chat with him for a good while and you come away knowing more than you ever thought possible about American history and the workings of his country’s government. “I’m the only guy I know who walks around with a copy of the Constitution in his back pocket.”

Born in 1945 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Bill, one of six children, had an idyllic childhood. He idolized his Dad, a veteran of the second World War, who labored in a coal mine (the only job available) for five years before moving his family 120 miles down the road to Levittown to work in a steel mill. Ten-year-old Bill thought he had moved to suburban heaven. “We bought a house, schools went up, I could ride my bike anywhere, my Mom and Dad filled the house with books – it was great growing up there.”

After graduating in 1963 from Woodrow Wilson High School, Bill set out to become a teacher. In 1967 he earned a B.A. at King’s College and then went on to teach American Government and History to seniors at Pennsauken High School (NJ) for 35 years. He earned a M.A. at Trenton State College in 1982. Bill, a member of the New Jersey Education Association, credits his parents and teachers with his career success. “They steered me to entrench myself in the activities of reading and studying. Even my professors. They all set a good example.”

While working at Pennsauken H.S. Bill met Ed Komczyk, then a math teacher and friend of Old Baldy Civil War Round Table. Ed would mention a group meeting to Bill, Bill would say yeah, let’s go, and together they would take a train to the Civil War Museum on Pine Street in Philly. They enjoyed those early days of discussions and camaraderie, through the group’s move to the Union League and now – with the help of Bill Hughes and others – at Camden County College. “This is where I met a very bright and talented group.”

Fast forward 25 years and Bill and Ed remain great friends and loyal Round Table members. Although Bill continues to harbor an interest in the Civil War, he is drawn primarily to the areas of pre-war influences and Reconstruction, a topic he has presented at the Round Table. Bill is extremely proud of the Old Baldy crew. “I can’t get over how smart people are in the group. They are so knowledgeable.”

Fellow Old Baldy members may be surprised at how knowledgeable Bill is at something totally unrelated to the U.S. Civil War and that is building race cars. With the help of their tech- savvy Dad, Bill and his brother built a 1963 Triumph that they took to the car hill climb competitions in Wilkes-Barre in the 70s. They painted the car red, white, and blue – with stars. The car is long gone (two rich guys bought it; Bill has regrets) but Bill’s brother has the frame of a MGB sitting in his garage waiting for a body. Constructing another racer is certainly on Bill’s bucket list. Right now, though, he is having too much fun traveling to NASCAR races with his brother.

Bill lives in Marlton, NJ with his wife and college sweetheart, Anna. She is a retired nurse. They have been married for 50 years and have one son, Brian, a computer engineer working at McGuire AFB in NJ.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Bob Fallon — Member Profile

Bob and Vicki

Bob was born in Camden, NJ. He’s the third oldest among nine Fallon children. “You didn’t want to be late for meals!” Outgrowing their home, the family moved to Merchantville in 1957. There, he attended St. Peter School and Merchantville High School.

“Back in those days, young kid’s activities included sports, biking, and playing war games with toy guns. The latter seemed so natural, because most of our parents served during WWII, and we wanted to be just like them. My youthful interest in warfare was expanded when a buddy introduced his collection of books and artifacts from that War and the Civil War. I never really lost interest.”

Upon high school graduation, and with Vietnam intensifying, Bob enlisted into the Marine Corps. “It was my turn to act.” Arriving in Da Nang on January 30, 1968—start of the Tet Offensive—he was assigned to the 1st Marine Division. For 13 months, he witnessed the full spectrum of war. “Combat made indelible impressions. To this day, at an instant, when triggered, I can be back there seeing, sensing, and feeling the heart-pounding events.”

Retuning to stateside duty, he had 2½ more years of his enlistment obligation—a difficult adjustment from the trials of combat. “Initially, it was difficult, simply finding peace. Fortunately, I was able to turn around, primarily from my family, some friends, and my religion. Others weren’t so lucky. Another factor was a re-assignment from Quantico to DC, where I was selected as a staff car driver, taking notable military and political figures to and from all the Capitol-area venues. But it also included many funerals at Arlington Cemetery. At times, that was tough.”

Enlistment ended mid-1971. Bob then went to electronics school and became a technician at Schaevitz Engineering in Pennsauken, NJ. He worked there for 20 years, with increasing roles, and became the Engineering Manager. “During this time, a mentor encouraged me to start college. I did, and enjoyed it, graduating nine years later from The University of Pennsylvania (aided by the GI Bill). Also, during this time, I met Vicki, a wonderful woman, who, along with her three children, brought new meaning to my life.” They married and now have four grandchildren. Vicki also graduated from Penn. Recently ending her career as a Data Processing Manager for the State of New Jersey, she is an accomplished quilter.

He held two more Engineering Manager posts in Voorhees and Cherry Hill, before retiring. Vicki and Bob have lived in Medford, NJ for the past 25 years.

Bob renewed his interest in The Civil War after viewing the 1990 Ken Burns Miniseries, and followed-up by reading Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, which lead to many more period books. A favorite among the people he studied was A.P. Hill. “The guy had moxie.” A focus of Bob’s studies is comparing the experiences of Civil War soldiers to his own.

After some internet research, he discovered the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table. He called the phone number, and Mike Cavanaugh answered. They had a good conversation and Bob joined Old Baldy in 2005.

Bob has been to several battlefields. He finds them all memorable. While Antietam and Gettysburg are large-scale, he found the simplicity of Ball’s Bluff to be more poignant. “Vicki and I went there years ago, a fall afternoon, a tranquil setting: the brilliant autumn leaves, the stillness. For a time, we were the only ones there. While reflecting, it was like being in church.” One prerequisite for their battlefield touring is its proximity to fabric stores, for Vicki.

Bob’s other interests include: working-out (basement gym), reading (mostly historical topics) and classical music (all periods, especially Baroque). But, of prime importance is applying time and attention to the overall welfare of the extensive Fallon Family.

In closing, Bob said that he “thoroughly enjoys Old Baldy. It gives me what I want: quality presentations and learning something new or about topics I had forgotten. Rich Jankowski and his team have elevated the Post with remarkable achievements, and made great advances in the diverse scope of Civil War education.”
We appreciate Bob’s sentiments and are glad he connected with Mike Cavanaugh 16 years ago.

Profile written by Jim Heenehan

Steve Peters — Member Profile

Steve Peters was born on September 24th, 1947, in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and he was also raised there. He attended a self-contained school district, so the other kids were all from his town. Grades 7th through 12th were all in the same building and Steve’s graduating high school class only had 148 students. Given the number of kids in the school district Steve found himself in the same room with some of the other students for 12 years. As you could imagine, he grew very close to some of these kids and they would often do things outside of school together.

“I used to tell people that I had the best of both worlds,” Steve said. “I could walk out my back door and be in the middle of the woods; I could also walk out my front door and be in the middle of the city.” Steve was a Boy Scout and loved the outdoors. He used to go out to the woods with his friends to catch minnows to use as bait to fish for bass. When they weren’t out fishing or hiking, they would go out on the town attending one of the many local restaurants or one of the two local movie theaters. One of Steve’s other hobbies was stamp collecting. On top of all of that he played baseball, football, and wrestled in high school. He and his friends were always afraid to do anything reckless because two of his friends had brothers in the police force.

His family would attend car races at tracks just about every week. This tradition started way back in his father’s childhood when he fell in love with races. Ever since then Steve’s father loved racing and later passed it down to his children. Steve was at a racetrack before he was even one year old and grew up with a strong passion for racing. They used to go on Saturdays or Sundays after church to races. Sometimes they had to walk 3 miles between their car and their seat, but it was totally worth it to them. Steve’s dad also passed on a love of the North American railroad system. Columbia was one of the main lines of the Pennsylvania railroad, so Steve had many opportunities to see train cars. Steve’s dad would take him to see different train cars and tracks.

After graduating from high school in 1965, he attended Delaware Valley College where he earned a degree in animal husbandry in 1969. His favorite class was genetics and entomology. The professor of that class loved wrestling and previously knew Steve because he wrestled and played football in college. He worked on the college farm from his sophomore to senior year running the pig and swine operation. He was also a dorm counselor for three years. Steve never got any sports scholarships, so he had to take up these jobs to make his own way.

Toward the end of his college career, he became a part time truck driver and then shortly after graduated college and got a football coaching job in Conshohocken. He moved to Conshohocken and after a year got a job teaching agriculture in Northern Burlington County in Columbus, New Jersey, despite not having a teaching certification. It was a long commute, and he did that for a year until he got a job at Wood Archbishop High School teaching biology. He was a football and wrestling coach there for 20+ years. He also served as a high school and college wrestling official for 28 years. He did not need a teaching certification for this job either, but he knew it would make him a better teacher, so he earned one at Temple University. He then switched to teaching environmental science at the same school while taking more college classes to make him better at his job. He worked at Archbishop for a total of 46 years until retirement. While he was teaching, he was also a racecar official and photographer for a national racing publication for 30 years. He was able to attend local races during the school year after classes were over, and travel great distances on the weekend and during the summer.

Steve met his wife Carol in college, they married and had three children. They have been married for 46 years and now have four grandchildren. Nowadays Steve spends most of his time watching sports on television, fishing, driving others in his community or learning about history. Specifically, Civil War history. Steve’s interest in history started during a 3rd grade field trip to Gettysburg. Over years, he read books, went to reenactments and researched the historical significance of his surrounding areas. Steve said he would have become a history teacher, but his college did not offer the major.

Soon after retiring from teaching, he attended a Delaware Valley Civil War Round Table (CWRT) meeting and met the “crazy guy in glasses” Rich Jankowski. The speaker at that event was the author of some of the Civil War books Steve was reading, Ed Bonekemper. Steve was blown away by the enthusiasm put forth by Rich and the members Old Baldy, so he joined our Round Table. He is a frequent attendee of the pre-meeting dinners at the Lamp Post Diner, traveling down from Lansdale with Steve Newcomb. His smile and positive attitude are welcomed at our meetings. He also joined the Delaware Valley and the Bucks County Round Tables as well as the GAR museum in Philadelphia.

Profile written by Talon Lauriello.

Lorraine Gancher — Member Profile

Lorraine Gancher grew up in Garfield, NJ (named after the Civil War general and president), an industrial town along the Passaic River not far from New York City. She often took the train or bus into New York City with family or friends for various excursions. She remembers seeing the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall at Christmas time and the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. She also has fond memories of her trips to the Museum of Natural History, the Bronx Zoo, and the Statue of Liberty.

Back in high school, Lorraine had a strong interest in history. While learning about the kings and queens of England, she and her friends adopted the personalities of various royalty and wrote each other spoof letters. For example, as Lady So and So, the Lady in Waiting to Princess Such and Such, she wrote her friend, the Duke, “We just visited your estate and really enjoyed our stay.” Lorraine’s love of letters also prompted her to become pen pals with fellow teenagers in England, South Africa and Australia. Her Aussie correspondence continues to this day, causing Lorraine to reflect, “The mail is my friend. I’d hate to see it leave.”

After high school, Lorraine attended Montclair State College (now University), where she received a Teaching degree in Social Studies for Junior and Senior High School and a Librarian degree for grades K–12. Upon graduation, she moved to South Jersey, becoming a librarian in the Bellmawr school system. She first worked 30 years at the elementary school and then 10 years at the middle school as a school guidance counsellor because she received her Master’s Degree in Student Personnel Services from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University).

In addition to her librarian duties, Lorraine also helped organize PTA fundraising and various after school activities. These included decorating for the school dances, and “Read Aloud Night,” where she got the mayor, members of the police force and others to read various children’s books for the students. Lorraine helped out with all the school activities, like Book Fairs and contests. She also got parents involved and volunteering. On holidays Lorraine dressed up to read to the younger students, performing as a pumpkin, a turkey and even a talking Christmas tree.

The school district appreciated Lorraine’s efforts and had a surprise for her before she retired. A friend of hers suggested they attend an upcoming school board meeting to be held outdoors at the school. As Lorraine always went to these school board meetings, she was happy to go. “They were doing work on the outside of the school,” Lorraine recollected, “and a drape hung over one side of the building. I had no idea something else was going on. At the end of the meeting, I am called up to the podium, a cord is pulled, the drape comes down, and there is my name in stainless steel letters on the side of the library.” The Bellmawr Park Elementary School library is now the Lorraine A. Gancher Library. What an appropriate honor for someone who loves reading and spent her career helping students.

And speaking of kids, Lorraine also raised three stepchildren of her own—James, Kristin and Tammy. They have since moved all over the country but she keeps in touch with letters, phone calls and gifts. Lorraine prefers these more personal interactions to email correspondence.

Lorraine first learned of Old Baldy while taking a course on the Civil War with Dr. Pesda at the Camden County College Civic Center during the Civil War Sesquicentennial. At the course, she met Old Baldy members Joe Wilson and Gerri Hughes, who encouraged Lorraine to join our Round Table, which she did six years ago. Lorraine enjoys reading Civil War letters, has visited Gettysburg, including the Eisenhower farm, and has been to several sites in Virginia. But her love of history transcends the Civil War. She’s been to Jamestown, Roanoke, several historic lighthouses, and various places in the Hudson River Valley. Some favorite Hudson River spots include Hyde Park, Olana (Frederick Church’s home), Sleepy Hollow, West Point and Bear Mountain.

To this day Lorraine loves taking classes on all sorts of subjects, usually at St. Peters College, Glassboro University or Camden County College. As she notes, “I consider myself an eternal learner as I’ve been going to classes since I was 5.” And fortunately for us, she also learned about Old Baldy at a Camden County College class just a few years ago.

John Galie — Member Profile

John Galie was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1955. At the age of five, he and his family moved to Heritage Village in Marlton, New Jersey, which is where he grew up. He attended Saint Joan of Arc elementary school and he was in the first graduating class. He then went to Holy Cross in Delran for high school and John told me that it was painful. There was a far distance between his house and the high school with only one bus traveling between the two once a day. Because of this, he didn’t participate in many after-school activities. He did however find some solace with the photography club since we could complete his assignments in and around his home.

John quickly realized that he wanted to become a mechanic so during high school he worked at small local repair shops specializing in lawn mower repairs. He learned a lot there and worked hard. His father’s philosophy was that if you want something you have to earn it and John took that to heart. He even worked as a janitor at his old elementary school for some extra money in order to buy his own tools.

After graduating from high school his father wanted him to go to college, so John chose to attend Drexel University in Philadelphia to become a Mechanical Engineer. His career path would forever change after his co-op program year with the National Weather Service in Washington, DC. There he was exposed to a computer for the first time and it blew his mind. Right then and there he decided to change his major to Electrical Engineering and continued at Drexel for two more years.

During his third year at Drexel, he met a girl while on his Co-Op assignment in Washington, DC, named Patricia, who was a senior at Penn State. They were married during his junior year and moved to Flint, Michigan, where Pat took a job with A.C. Spark Plug. This move required changing schools so John transferred to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He had to drive 50 miles to and from school which left no time for extracurriculars. The tedium of traffic and the annoyance of never attending a football game at this school was all worth it though when John graduated Magna Cum Laude and got a great job at IBM.

His job involved developing semiconductors and processing technologies in East Fishkill, New York. In 1986 IBM reorganized and asked employees to volunteer to switch into different branches of the company. John volunteered to switch from the manufacturing side to the technical sales force. Over the years, John’s various account responsibilities included State and Local Governments, casinos in Atlantic City, and finally the U.S. Army.

This sales position took John and his family to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, which is where he currently resides. He and his wife have been married for 45 years and they have four children who all became engineers. John has been involved with several volunteer opportunities such as being a Cub Scout leader for his son, Little League Coach, as well as being a Big Brother. John served on the Cherry Hill Board of Education for 12 years which enabled him to present all four of his children with their high school diplomas. Now his children are grown, and he enjoys spending time with his eight grandchildren. John retired from IBM in 2008 after 30 years of service.

John’s interest in history started at an early age, when one cold November morning, his father woke him and his brother at four AM and said “get up, you two are coming with me.” His father had business that day in Washington, DC, and afterwards took the boys to Arlington National Cemetery. It was Tuesday November 26th, 1963, the day after JFK was buried. His parents both served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II. His father was a radio intercept operator-(German)-stationed in Europe and his mother was a high-speed radio operator in the Women’s Axillary Corp (WAC), stationed at Vint Hill Farms, Virginia. What really ignited his spark of interest in Civil War history was his first visit to Gettysburg with his good friend Bob Russo. After which he started looking into his family history and discovered that his grandfather served in World War I and his great grandfather served in the Civil War, 12th VA Co G. John went to Old Baldy meetings off and on for a few years until eventually deciding to join the organization. He has been a member for five years now and thoroughly enjoys it. John is currently a volunteer battlefield interpreter at the Monterey Pass Battlefield, Blue Ridge Summit, PA, where he conducts weekend tours on a monthly basis.

Profile written by Talon Lauriello.