Category Archives: Member profile

Arlene Schnaare — Member Profile

Before joining the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table nine years ago, Arlene Schnaare believed everything she was told about the American Civil War. Case in point: the old legend that coded messages were embedded in quilts hung on a fence or clothesline along the Underground Railroad to direct runaway slaves to safe houses and routes to freedom. It is an exciting tale, one that is easy to believe as it has been told and written as truth for generations. But the story that quilts contained secret codes before and during the Civil War has been entirely dismissed by history scholars and quilt historians. A bear paw design sewn into a quilt did not mean a slave should follow an animal trail into the woods to find water and food, or that a quilt with a monkey wrench block signaled slaves to start gathering tools for a planned escape North. There is simply no evidence of truth, which came as a surprise to the quilt-making Arlene Schnaare. “Before Old Baldy, I believed all the stories I knew about the Civil War. The quilts? It is a feel-good story but it’s not true. There are lots of fallacies in Civil War history. I’m learning to separate truth from fiction.”

Arlene was not interested in the Civil War, or quilts, when she was living in St. Louis, Missouri, her birthplace. After graduating from Mercy High School, Arlene enrolled in a three-year registered nurse program at St. John’s School of Nursing and worked at its affiliate, St. John’s Hospital. Across the street was the St. Louis College of Pharmacy where she met a student named Roger Schnaare. They married in 1960.

The couple moved to Indiana for Roger’s graduate studies at Purdue University and lived there for four years. They moved back to St. Louis, stayed for three years, and then moved east to Turnersville, New Jersey. They have three children: Tim, Mary and Theresa; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Arlene and Roger currently reside in Haddonfield.

After she retired from nursing, Arlene went to work part-time at a needlepoint store and began an interest in the craft as well as cross stitch. Then she developed an overwhelming love of quilting. “I call it a disease. I’ve made 35 so far. I’m just fascinated by the colors and designs.” Although Arlene is currently working on a copy of an 1820 quilt, Civil War reproduction quilts are her forte. In fact, Arlene already has all the materials she needs to make a reproduction of a quilt that reportedly hung in Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home at Knob Creek in Kentucky. “I promised Abe I would do it.”

It was through quilting that Arlene developed an interest in the Civil War, an era she says she knew little about. She and Roger have visited the Gettysburg Battlefield and also made a trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell. She was in awe of the history around her. “I touched the Liberty Bell. At Gettysburg I stood there. I stood there.”

Arlene was taking continuing education classes at The Center at Camden County College when she first bumped into Richard Jankowski and Frank Barletta of Old Baldy. After looking over a brochure Rich handed her, Arlene asked Frank if a test was required to get into the group. He replied no and encouraged her to attend a meeting. It was one of the best decisions she had ever made. “Old Baldy has been good for me. Walking across the campus I feel like I’m 19 again. I like the feeling of being there. Everyone is so smart about the Civil War.” Arlene spoke about her reproduction quilt collection at an OB meeting in 2017.

Soon after she joined Old Baldy, Arlene and member Priscilla Gabosch were recruited to create a membership committee; their first job was to convert the old paper records to a computer-based system. Both women have done a wonderful job with the membership program. Their spreadsheet format is still in use today.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Gary Salkind — Member Profile

Gary Salkind was born in Wynnefield, Philadelphia on July 30th, 1953. He grew up in the area, living in Wynnewood, Havertown, Overbrook Park, and Drexel Hill. He went to Lower Merion High School in Ardmore and graduated in 1971. Gary continued his education at Saint Joseph’s University and then at Temple University School of Medicine. He was a practicing physician who taught at a residency program; worked at the Philadelphia Nursing Home; and performed house calls for patients until he retired in 2019.

Gary’s family consists of his wife, two children, four grandchildren, and a sister and her family. He and his wife Mindy have been married for 45 years. They met in 1975 at a Messianic Jewish congregation in Philadelphia.

In retirement, Gary has found more time to spend on his hobbies. He enjoys reading about his historical interests and visiting historic sites. He and Mindy are members of the Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble, a group that performs social dances of different periods of history.

Ever since he was a child, Gary has had a love for history. He and his childhood friends would act out World War II fighting. Some of his main interests include military technology and the experiences of common soldiers. He says it is convenient to love Civil War history because the battlefields are near enough to visit.

Gary became a part of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table in 2020 after he discovered an old OB pamphlet when he was cleaning out his files. He searched online for more information and found that he could join the meetings virtually. He says membership now has the ability to expand regardless of where the meetings take place.

Gary is a member of the Friends of Gettysburg, a group that helps raise funds to preserve and maintain the battlefield. He is also a member of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.

Paul Prentiss — Member Profile

“Since the fifth grade I wanted to join the Navy like my dad and granddad. By the seventh grade, I really liked mechanical things like ships and airplanes and wanted to go into engineering to design and build them.” To make his goals a reality Salem, Massachusetts native Paul Prentiss would need opportunity, intelligence, hard work, and to love two things: an adventurous woman, and shiny things that go “bang.”

At the end of a four-year Navy ROTC scholarship, Paul graduated from the University of Michigan Physics program, and the Naval War College in Rhode Island. After he was commissioned as an ensign he went west to California, and throughout his service was able to visit many worldwide sites where extraordinary events unfolded including Manilla Bay, Pearl Harbor, Inchon, and his favorite, Yokosuka, Japan. Commodore Perry’s “Black Fleet” arrived very close to the city in 1853. Afterward, to stop the incursion of foreigners, a series of fortifications were started and in use through 1945. “Exploring these historic structures was exhilarating, dangerous, and very rewarding. Sometimes we were able to talk with the locals and get their perspective of WWII and the subsequent occupation.”

In March 2022 U.S. Navy Captain Paul Prentiss retired after spending 43 years supporting the active Navy, Naval Reserve, and working/supporting Lockheed Martin. He was a surface warfare officer specializing in combat systems and then as a civilian continued in the same career. He also recently retired as a chief scientist for a national science and technology company. The history of technology is one subject Paul finds very fascinating. “Most of my reading and study concentrate from the Industrial Revolution (1760s) to the present. I strive to understand why and how technology was created to solve problems.”

As a nine-year member and trustee of the Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable, Paul has helped us find the best solutions for the toughest challenges. Because of his research and writing skills, the Roundtable was selected to receive the 2022 Wallace L. Rueckel Innovation Award by the Civil War Roundtable Congress. The award is given to recognize a Civil War Round Table for its creative, effective, and inventive programs that provide value to its members and community. “This is really a proud moment for Old Baldy. Our group has worked hard to improve membership experience, so we really value and respect this honor.”

Paul found Old Baldy when member Marty Wilensky, pulling a secret recruiting trick, asked Paul to accompany him to a meeting. “I was very excited and did a lot of online work researching the Sultana Disaster of 1865, getting ready for an in-depth discussion. I really enjoyed the presentation (by Don Wiles) and the friendliness of the group. I joined the very next meeting.”

Paul has written several articles for the newsletter, and presented to the Roundtable a very interesting story about a distant cousin and his last assignment on board the USS Monongahela. In “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!” — Admiral David Farragut and the Battle of Mobile Bay August 5, 1864 we learned of Lt. Roderick Prentiss who participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay as executive officer aboard the steam screw sloop, and who was struck by flying splinters caused by cannon fire from Fort Morgan. He subsequently died of his wounds the next day at the age of 24. Paul has learned that some Prentiss family papers were donated to Montana State University. “I was able to get copies of family letters, fellow officer letters of condolence and Navy documents to learn what happened.”

Today, family for Paul includes his wife, Susan, and their son, Sean, who is getting married in November. Paul and Susan have graciously hosted Old Baldy picnics at their home in Marlton, New Jersey. The couple have been married for 39 beautiful years, first by a Navy Chaplain in Alameda, California and then again in Paul’s home parish. “Saying the vows twice really tied the knot tight!”

Paul is a Samaritan Hospice volunteer, STEM mentor, Ben Franklin American Legion Post 405 of Philadelphia finance office volunteer, and an active member of the Coastal Defense Study
Group. If you happen to have an upright bass or a bass guitar laying around you might ask Paul to play a number — he was once a member of the Boston musician’s union and played back-up for Bobby Hebb’s second album. (Remember Hebb’s ‘66 hit, “Sunny?”)

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Susan Kovacs — Member Profile

It was 1970, the year before Allentown–born Susan Kovacs would graduate from Mansfield University with a B.S.Ed. in secondary education–social studies, and the U.S. Peace Corps was holding an informational event on campus. Susan went, was encouraged by what she heard, and applied to the volunteer program in her senior year. When the invitation to serve arrived, Susan found out that she was going to be teaching English as a second language (ESL) for two years overseas. Where overseas? Majuro in the Marshall Islands (Federated States of Micronesia). “I said, ‘Where in the heck is Micronesia?’” Susan’s father, a WWII U.S. Marine veteran, pulled out a map and showed her. He knew, of course, that just after WWII ended the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear tests and detonated the first hydrogen bomb in the Marshall Islands. Still, Susan trained for three months in Hilo, Hawaii, learning a new language and becoming familiar with food options in her host country. One week after training was completed, Susan, now an unofficial U.S. ambassador of goodwill, headed to the Islands. “Having the ability to travel during the summer of 1972 throughout several island groupings of Micronesia, I was able to walk North Field on the island of Tinian. This was the departure point during WWII for the B–29 bombers Enola Gay and Bockscar, which carried the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

After Susan returned to the states in 1973, she held a number of retail management and banking positions, and in 1985 earned a B.A. in business administration–accounting from DeSales University. Across the street from her banking job in downtown Bethlehem was Pentamation Enterprises (now PowerSchool), a provider of cloud–based software in K-12 education. The company hired Susan away from the bank, where she was training tellers, to train school districts on its software. To prove how much she loved her job, Susan stayed on for 35 years. She retired in 2022.

So, why did Susan Kovacs go into the teaching and education field in the first place? “I wanted to be a history teacher. In 7th grade I had Mr. Richard Kantor for American history who made the subject so exciting and fascinating. And throughout high school and college, I never had a history teacher that could match his skills and passion for the subject and I found that disappointing.”

Susan continues to be a student of history. She came to the Old Baldy CWRT in 2008 through her beloved late husband Michael Cavanaugh, a founding member of OB who served over the years as treasurer, program chairman and twice president. They had been married for 14 years when Michael died January 7, 2020. “What a wonderful opportunity it has been to meet individuals, authors and historians with similar interests.” Susan is also a member of the Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Pennsylvania. She says she is interested in the American Civil War because it was a changing moment in the history of our country. “And it is a war that did not create separate countries, as has happened in other parts of the world, but kept the country intact as one nation.”

Susan’s biggest hobby is reading and that includes various books and biographies related to the Civil War. Her two most favorite books have been Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears and Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Bethlehem has a very active arts and cultural scene and Susan enjoys being part of it. There are jazz concerts at Lehigh University Zoellner Arts Center as well as classical concerts presented by the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra and Miller Symphony Hall. “And in the summer you can find me at the Bethlehem Rose Garden listening to Sunday evening local band and jazz groups.”

Profile by Kim Weaver

Mike Kalichak — Member Profile

Mike Kalichak was born in Chester, Pennsylvania in December of 1947. He grew up in the same area as an only child and went to St. James Catholic High School. After graduating in 1965, he attended Widener University, which is also in Chester. From 1970 to 1975, he served in the U.S. Navy and the Navy Reserve, where he performed sea duty and was deployed overseas in 1971 and 1972. Following his military service, he studied law at Villanova Law School and began working for the federal government as a Staff Attorney for the Social Security Administration. He retired from this job in 1999, and in 2001 he became a part-time employee at the Fort Mifflin Historic Site as a tour guide. He continues to work there to this day, and the pictures provided are of him as a tour guide there.

Mike has been interested in the Civil War since he was 13 years old when in 1961 his family took a trip to Gettysburg. Also, he became interested in the media about the Civil War that was being shared during the hundred year anniversary of the war from 1961 to 1965. Multiple television programs pertaining to the Civil War were aired in the spring and summer of 1961, and he watched them when they came out. He also read about the Civil War in the Philadelphia Inquirer when it published a section about it in April 1961. Another interest of Mike’s is model trains, which he also started to enjoy when he was 13 years old. He currently has a H.O. scale model train layout in his attic.

Before the Old Baldy Round Table meetings moved to New Jersey, he was a member and attended meetings at the Civil War museum on Pine Street in Philadelphia. He lost contact when that museum closed, but was able to get back in touch and rejoin about seven years ago when the meetings moved to Camden County Community College. He enjoys listening to the lectures provided by Old Baldy and discussing the Civil War with other members. As well as Old Baldy, he is a member of the Brandywine Civil War Round Table, which is based in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He also participates in Vietnam Veterans of America as Secretary of Delaware County 67 and American Legion Post 546 as Treasurer.

George Brewer — Member Profile

Dennisville, NJ has been home to retired sawmill owner George Brewer since he was nine years old. Founded in 1726, the area is known historically for shipbuilding and lumbering, and the Atlantic white cedar timber that is both standing and submerged in its swamplands. Early settlers used the swamp cedar for many purposes – shingles, flooring, furniture – and in George’s hands almost 1,500 picnic tables.

George was born into a farming family in 1935 in Woodbury, NJ. Eighteen years later he graduated from Middle Township High School in Cape May County.

His first job was as a carpenter. Between his junior and senior year in high school George and his father built a house. In 1958 George left carpentry and went to work in his dad’s sawmill in Dennisville. They mined standing cedar from swampland they owned and milled it to fill custom orders. “The mill was no further advanced than one you could have found in the early 1900s.” They became partners in both the mill and a small campground his father owned called Cedar Lake. George took over the businesses when his father retired in the 1960s.

George employed one person to help him fell the trees and haul the logs to his mill. The Brewer Sawmill supplied cedar planking for boat docks, duck and bird decoys, and for other purposes where it will be called on to resist rot and insects. Indeed, the mill provided the cedar to build some of the surf boats used by lifeguards on the East Coast for rescues. George built over 1,000 picnic tables for local campgrounds in the 1980s. “I appreciate a nice stand of cedar; it’s a renewable source that has to be used.”

In 1999 George shut down the sawmill and sold the campground. He recently developed a piece of wooded land he owns into a residential subdivision in Dennisville. He has been married to Joyce Brewer for 66 years and they have two children.

There is more to George’s story than wetland muck and staggering screws in two-by-fours. His family is armed with knowledge of two of George’s ancestors with ties to the Civil War era. The first is his great-grandmother’s brother Josiah Franklin who served in the 12th NJ with training in Woodbury. The second is his great-grandfather William P. Schellenger of Clementon, NJ who, as a second class fireman aboard the USS Montauk on April 25, 1865, guarded the body of one John Wilkes Booth before and after his autopsy. Mr. Schellenger stood eight feet away from the carpenter’s bench where Booth lay on the monitor. The ironclad was anchored in the Anacostia River off the Washington Navy Yard, D.C.

George, an Old Baldy member for 8 ½ years, has visited Vicksburg National Military Park and the Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia. He is a member of the General Meade Society and a 20-year member of The Civil War Roundtable of Cape May County, NJ.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Joe Wilson — Member Profile

The American Civil War has a lot of hidden history, and Old Baldy member Joe Wilson has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to uncovering some of those stories and turning them into documentary films. It has been quite an enlightening experience for the man The Philadelphia Inquirer has called “a plumber-turned-screenwriter.”

Joe was born in 1952, Camden, NJ, one of nine children. He graduated from Camden Catholic High School in 1970 then attended Camden County College thinking he might go into management. Instead, Joe obtained his Master Plumber license and remained in that profession, retiring from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 2012 after 33 years of service.

Joe has been researching and studying the Civil War for over 25 years with most of his research on Civil War prisons. He believes the thousands of prisoners who needlessly starved to death is the saddest chapter of the Civil War. Once he retired, Joe started focusing much of his time and energy on researching, writing, and producing three Civil War documentaries. His first, made with his musician brother Mike Wilson and their collaborator Richard Mendoza, was Civil War Prisons – An American Tragedy, which garnered rave reviews after screenings at Camden County College and the Garden State Film Festival at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City.

“Inspiration for the film came from my great-great-grandfather, Corporal George Garman, who survived the notorious Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia, where 13,000 Union soldiers perished. The 26-acre prison site is easily the deadliest piece of ground in America.” Cpl. Garman was in prison there for five months and three months in Florence Stockade (S.C.) when he was moved to elude General William Sherman. He died in 1924 at the age of 80. “The prisoner experience remains to this day the least reported aspect of the Civil War.” Joe went on to make two more films: Remarkable Tales of the Civil War and Civil War Dead – Dignity Denied.

A self-taught writer, Joe has penned a book, In the line of Battle: The Pennsylvania Reserves (Cpl. Garman and 250 of his comrades in the Seventh Pennsylvania Reserves Regiment fell into Confederate hands May 5, 1864 at the Battle of the Wilderness) and also gives presentations and lectures on the subject. He writes for Civil War News and other publications.

Among the many local appearances Joe makes to educate the community on the Civil War, the ones where he exhibits the personal Bible of his great-great-grandfather are the most meaningful. The Bible is part of Joe’s collection of Civil War relics and it came into his possession by a series of remarkable events after a visit to Greenwood Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia. Glued to the inside of the back cover is a photo of Cpl. Garman, in uniform, thought to be taken upon his release from Andersonville Prison. Also noteworthy in the collection are a colt handgun owned by a Captain and a sword owned by a Lieutenant. Because each item has been stamped with the name of the soldier who handled them, Joe is able to trace the story behind the relics. “I like to collect things that have a solid history. Those names tell me all the battles the soldier has been in. I imagine the Captain who owned the gun was leading his men forward, and the Lieutenant with the sword was charging. Both were killed in battle. These weapons were in the hands of the guy killed.”

Joe is not just a Civil War guy. From an early age he was interested in major American wars, including WWII. He occasionally gives a PowerPoint at local venues on the Merchant Marine and how crucial they were to winning the war. His father served aboard the famed Liberty ships that were used to transport vital supplies to the Allies. Manning these vessels was an extremely dangerous task, and that is what Joe talks about in his presentations. “I do it to honor my father and uncle, who also was in the Merchant Marine.”

Joe came to the Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable 10 years ago after the group moved to South Jersey. He is also a member of the General Meade Society and the Civil War Trust. He lives in Magnolia, NJ and has two children and three grandchildren.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

  • Civil War Prisons – An American Tragedy and Remarkable Tales of the Civil War are available on Amazon pay-per-view. Civil War Dead – Dignity Denied is free on YouTube.

Frank Barletta — Member Profile

In 2015 Frank Barletta went on a road trip to middle Tennessee to retrace the steps of the 101st Ohio Volunteer Infantry and one of its men, then Private George S. Myers, from Stone River to Chickamauga, Georgia, where the regiment fought September 19-20, 1863 in the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. For his actions on the 19th – he “saved the regimental colors by great personal devotion and bravery” – Sergeant Myers, promoted May 1, 1865, was awarded the Medal of Honor. (Frank wrote a lengthy story about his trip for the November 11, 2015 issue of the Old Baldy newsletter.)

Since the journey South, Frank has been fascinated with the life of Sergeant Myers, so much so “I’m going to write a book. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish.” He is trying to find information about the before and after of the Sergeant’s time in the Civil War (1862-1865) by reading newspapers, diaries of the regiment soldiers, and maps. “I’m a maps guy. I love studying maps. Every step that George made, I followed along.” Given where Frank spent the early part of his life, his book could very well be about the Revolutionary War.

Born in 1943 in Boston Massachusetts, Frank spent 35 years in New England and the rest of his time in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. When he was ten, Frank worked during the summer at his father’s heavy construction company and his job was to fill the kerosine “bombs” or lanterns used to alert drivers of nearby construction work. His mom used to make him wear rain gear because it was a dirty and smelly task. Frank picked up another skill on the job – cleaning lumber or taking the nails out of planks. A kid being a kid, Frank decided to hammer the nails back in instead and he could do it with two or three strikes of the hammer. The neighborhood kids found out how fast he was and would give him twenty-five cents to hit nails at the town carnival and win them a prize. Frank won every time.

Grown-up Frank graduated in 1961 from Catholic Memorial High School, and then went on to St. Anselm College in New Hampshire where he earned a BA in Economics. He worked 37 years for Collier International; head of facilities for 30 years, selling churches for seven.

Away from real estate, Frank has been a seven-year volunteer for the New Jersey Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. His primary job is to advocate for people living in long-term care facilities by investigating and resolving complaints made by them or by others on their behalf. “The work is critical. Covid showed that some of these places are not great.”

With a love for history, Frank is or has been involved with numerous related organizations and projects. In 1976, Frank, with his American Revolution living historians group, recreated a British Army Grenadier with the 3rd Regiment of Foot to serve as an honor guard for Queen Elizabeth II when she visited the Concord and Lexington Battlefield site for our nation’s Bicentennial. He made his own clothing, even his own bearskin hat.

As a 10-year member of the Old Baldy CWRT, Frank has served as a board member and is currently treasurer, a position he has held for the past five years. In October 2018 Frank spearheaded the Civil War Naval Symposium on board the Battleship New Jersey in her berth at Camden (Delaware River). It featured several well-known experts in the history of the Civil War navies, sixteen exhibitors, and period songs. “I’m very proud of putting that together. It was a grand affair. The first time a Civil War Naval symposium was onboard the ship.”

Frank is on the advisory committee for Homecoming 250 Navy Marine Corps, a charity created to host the main celebrations of the Navy and Marine Corps 250th birthdays in 2025 in Philadelphia and on the Delaware River. (Speaking of history, Frank’s grandfather is a second cousin to Harry S. Truman!)

Horseshoes, bowling, pickleball, Tai-Chi – they all keep Frank feeling fit and young-er. Oh yeah, and he is a BIG Phillies fan. Frank’s wife, Sandy, bought him in July 2017 a gift certificate to take a yoga class at the ballpark. On the field. With hundreds of other people. A free ticket to the Phillies evening game was the reward. “The best gift my wife ever gave me! It was the coolest thing! Even the Philly Phanatic did yoga!

Frank and his wife, Sandy, share 41 years of marriage. They live in Marlton, New Jersey with their two rescue dogs, Shiloh and Wally.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Kathy Clark — Member Profile

Kathy Clark often wonders what life was like for women in the American Civil War. The females, white and black, who had a deep devotion to family and community and who stepped forward to risk their lives to do good. One of those selfless women who Kathy admires is Harriet Tubman, the “She-Moses.”

Tubman was enslaved, escaped, and helped others realize freedom on the Underground Railroad. The abolitionist and social justice activist is documented to have rescued at least 70 people during 13 trips to her native Maryland, and instructed dozens of others on how to escape on their own. “Harriet Tubman was an exceptional person with courage. Just to get people out of the south she put her life on the line. She could have been easily caught. She gave up everything for herself to help black men, women and children. She was on a Liberty ship to help liberate enslaved people from plantation homes. And then at the end she cared for black people in her house in Auburn, NY.”

In addition to her interest in women in the Civil War, Kathy is intrigued by the hospitals of the era, and also Walt Whitman and Clara Barton, both self-taught nurses. She is a member of the Society for Women and the Civil War, and has been vice president of Old Baldy CWRT for six years, a member for nine.

Born in 1947 in East Camden, New Jersey, Kathy thought she would work as a secretary when she grew up. “There were not a lot of jobs open to women then.” What she really wanted to do was become an artist, perhaps illustration or fashion design. In her junior year of high school—with her father’s support—she attended weekend classes at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia and soon came to like acrylic painting (still enjoys it.) But then her father died, and Kathy made the decision to go college and study elementary education. She graduated in 1969 from Temple University. “I did it for him. I thought he would be extremely proud of me graduating from college.”

In 1972 Kathy moved to Mount Laurel, New Jersey with her husband Bill. After seven years teaching second-graders in Maple Shade Township, Kathy decided to leave the classroom. She would work from home helping Bill with his residential and commercial security business. (Sadly, Bill died in 2007. They were married for 38 years.)

Kathy fills her daily life with counted cross-stitch and reading mystery and history books. She writes articles and reviews of Old Baldy meeting presentations for our newsletter. For the 2018 Civil War Navy Symposium on board the Battleship New Jersey, Kathy was responsible for soliciting donations from businesses and organizations for the raffle auction. She takes photos at Old Baldy events, which means we have no photos of her!

Kathy found Old Baldy through continuing education classes at The Center at Camden County College. She was in a Civil War class and picked up information on Old Baldy. Rich Jankowski happened to be there and encouraged her to attend a meeting. She did, and Old Baldy CWRT is all the better for it.

She became interested in the Civil War after taking American History in college. Once the history bug bit, Kathy and Bill visited historic Gettysburg and later went on steamboat trips to Vicksburg and Shiloh. At that time there were Civil War lectures on the trips. She also has followed the escape trail of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth, starting at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. and ending at the Garrett farm in Bowling Green, Virginia. “Booth is not my favorite person. His southern views were way off.”

With a strong wanderlust, Kathy took to traveling all over the world, including a solo New York to Southampton, England trip in October 2008. The QE2, in tandem with the QM2, was making its final transatlantic voyage before retiring to Dubai. Why go solo? Her traveling companion discovered at the last minute that her passport was somewhere other than her purse.

Profile written by Kim Weaver

Bob Russo — Member Profile

An eighth grade Catholic nun in South Philly walked into a classroom wearing a full Union uniform when she introduced the Civil War to her students. A history-loving father handed his 16-year-old hospitalized son Bruce Catton’s Gettysburg: The Final Fury and a second book on the history of the Confederacy. These two impactful experiences true to then teenager Bob Russo were the beginning of his lifelong appreciation of the Civil War. “Those books, on top of my eighth grade experience and a visit to Gettysburg a couple years later, left me hooked for a lifetime.”

Bob was first interested in battles and troop movements, even visiting battlefields (Antietam is a favorite) to better understand the carnage, and in the process recognized that every person on or near the battles, both military and citizen, had an experience. “The strength, courage, and perseverance exhibited by people is truly impossible to imagine.” Later, he became interested in Civil War medicine and was surprised to learn — despite Hollywood’s depictions to the contrary — that anesthesia was used in operations and that medical care was state of the art for the times. As a trusted historian, Bob needs to know all sides of the past — the good, the bad, the sad, the ugly.

Dedicated to pursuing his passions, Bob shares his knowledge of the nation’s history with Saturday morning visitors to Independence National Historical Park. Since 2015, he has been conducting tours of Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and giving talks at the Liberty Bell and other sites within the Park. “The most special thing for me is to stand on the delegates’ side of the railing in the Assembly Room of Independence Hall to talk about those momentous events.” Bob would like to have a sit down with John Dickinson, the man he believes to be the most misunderstood Founding Father because he did not vote for independence. “That is true but extremely misleading.”

Bob is a member of numerous historical organizations including the Gettysburg Foundation, Surratt Society, the National Constitution Center and others. He also received the Certificate of Completion from the Civil War Institute at Manor College, where he once attended an Antietam class run by the Delaware Valley CWRT and Jerry Carrier. Impressed by the class, Bob went to the group’s meeting in Trevose, Pennsylvania and ”Rich Jankowski, the eternal recruiter for Old Baldy CWRT, was in the audience. Rich didn’t even wait for the end of the meeting; he turned from a few rows in front of me and shouted, “I have a group that meets much closer to you! We will talk! That’s the thing about OB, DV, and every historical organization I belong to. Great people, great camaraderie, and great experiences.” He is a nine-year member of Old Baldy and past vice president.

Born in 1958, Bob is a true believer in the old adage, “those who forget their history are bound to repeat it.” With that in mind he has written and presented “The Wounded Knee Massacre” and “Arlington National Cemetery ‒ Garden of Stone.” After two years studying the December 29, 1890 Native American tragedy (hundreds of Lakota dead at the hands of the U.S. Army), Bob and his wife, Carol, visited the site on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. “During that entire study, I found myself often deeply saddened by what was done to all native American tribes, which in my opinion is the attempted annihilation of a people and a culture by the United States government. The entire story is incredibly sad.”

After 20 or so visits to the military cemetery that contains the remains of approximately 400,000 people, “ I still feel humbled just thinking about it. The biggest thing that people do not realize about Arlington is, beyond the immense service of those in eternal rest below those headstones, and the dignity and importance of the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington through a couple hundred memorials and monuments offers a history of the United States.”

A graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, Bob is the senior vice president of Central Metals, Inc., and Roma Steel Erection, Inc. He and Carol live in Cherry Hill and have been married 35 years. Between them they have three children and four grandchildren. Bob recently introduced his grandsons to model railroading. “They are mesmerized and seeing them that way is a great joy for me. I look forward to introducing them to fishing in a nearby lake in a couple years.”

Profile written by Kim Weaver