2022 Jefferson County Historical Society Annual Meeting, Dinner & Awards Ceremony

2022 Jefferson County Historical Society Annual Meeting, Dinner & Awards Ceremony

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to E.M. “Jack” and Jean Parker in recognition of their exceptional service and significant contributions to the success of JCHS over many, many years.  Mrs. Parker accepted the award, presented by Traci Zents, President and Kat Lyons, Operations Director for both herself and Jack Parker, Jr. who passed away in March of 2018. This is the 2nd year this award has been given.  The Parkers were here for the extensive remodeling of the historic Edelblute-Pearsall building into the History Center beginning 2001 through the Grand Opening in March 2004. The 1st floor “Living on the Land” Gallery was established by Jack and Jean in honor of Jack’s parents, E.M. Parker Sr., and Genevieve (Fish) Parker.  The pair went on to donate many artifacts and documents, chaired the Annual Giving Campaign in the past, and funded the Scripture Rocks Pavilion, dedicated summer 2017.  A member since 2004, Jean became a Life Member in 2010. Their combined philanthropy continues.

The Arthur Altman Award was presented to Art and Jo Schrecongost, in recognition of their service to the JCHS Board and operation of the Bowdish Model RR & Miniatures Diorama. They have been volunteering on the Bowdish Crew since 2011 when they became JCHS members.  Art runs the trains using an iPad and explains to kids how he manages to run 3 trains at once and speed them up or slow them down. Jo passes out the Bowdish brochure and encourages kids to look for the list of animated people and creatures in the exhibit and find past and present miniature buildings. Every January, they take down the trains and track, clean them all, and make any needed repairs to the animations.  They switch out buildings and people to give the exhibit a new look. Art is a train enthusiast and travels every year to a model train event in Lancaster County.   If it wasn’t for them (and fellow crew member Bill McCracken) we wouldn’t still have the Bowdish Model RR & Miniatures Diorama show!

The Kate M. Scott Award was presented to Dale Luthringer by Kat Lyons in recognition of his contribution educating the public on the history of Cook Forest and Clear Creek State Parks of Jefferson County. Dale is the DCNR Education Specialist at both Parks since 2002.  He is no stranger to JCHS. He led a guided walking tour of Cook Forest’s Old Growth Forest Cathedral for a JCHS Summer Membership Day in 2010. That same year, he became a JCHS member.  His knowledge isn’t just forestry either, he can tell you anything you want to know. about the wildlife of these two parks and where to spot them, from eagles to otters, from fish to waterfowl.  His research and educational programming includes remnants of 1880s mill races, grist mills and sawmills, and tanneries located along the Clarion River. If you take one of his canoe/kayak floats, you will learn a lot of history along the way!  More recently, he is one of our presenters for the Hickory Grove 4th grade visit to Scripture Rocks Park each May, leading the tour on forest plants, past lumbering and current conservation techniques, and birds of the park.

New this year, the Volunteer of the Year Award goes to Wayne Kocher, a former Board Member and member since 2011. Wayne has been instrumental in building us bookcases that we need for several donated collections in our Research Library at the History Center and for our voluminous County Record Archives at the new Archives Facility. He donates his labor while JCHC covers materials.  Wayne also helps to move heavy artifacts and equipment when we need help, like moving the P&S Steam Engine #200 Bell (no easy feat!) from the Gold Eagle Inn to the History Center, and the donated microfilm/microfiche machine from the Prothonotary’s office to JCHC, wheeling it down the sidewalk on a handcart. Wayne was one of the main contributors to the P&S RR exhibit, as he had many artifacts and photos, being a Kocher family 3rd generation prior employee of the P&S early on. Unfortunately, Wayne could not be present for his award. We thank him for his continuing contributions.

Presentation: SFC Army Retired Steve Appleby, Curator, Education & Programs Eldred WWII Museum, McKean County

After a wonderful dinner catered by Bo Lockwood of Red River Roadhouse of Clarion, a brief meeting and the awards presentations, the program for the evening commenced. SFC Army Retired Steve Appleby, Curator, Education & Programs at the Eldred WWII Museum, McKean County presented “The Greatest Generation: Teaching Youth about WWII.”  Steve is a prolific speaker and had the dinner crowd transfixed. A few older members who went through WWII were greatly moved – Bill McCracken spoke of his experiences at the end of Steve’s presentation. Steve not only covered WWII, but more recent wars as well, mentioning the Gulf War, Korea and Vietnam. He made it clear how these wars affected all of us – from the men and women in service at the time to the wives and families left behind here in the states.  JCHS Members and guests who were in these other wars were also in the audience. 

His presentation was accentuated by the many artifacts of war that he brought with him, from canteens to weaponry. He gave examples of how he responds to youth who feign no interest, with stories that put them in awe.  A very moving presentation by a deeply committed man, we are proud to have him at our meeting and will bring him back in the future.