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Susquehanna Life

Honoring Veterans, Art in Milton, Community Service, Local History & More: Life Around The River Fall 2018

By Jennifer Pencek
Photographs by Claire Oreskovich

Union County Veterans Honored

A conversation between two friends led to a monument honoring thousands of veterans.

In 1996, Andrew Machamer brought up the idea to Al Hess of honoring World War II veterans with an honor roll in Lewisburg. The original 1943 memorial decayed and had been taken down 50 years earlier. The two friends, who are both World War II Navy veterans, began work to honor those from Union County who served their country.

“At the time we thought it was an impossible job but we knew we wanted to go for it,” Hess, 92, said.

Years of fundraising followed. Research yielded more than 2,200 names of Union County veterans. At first Hess and Machamer, now deceased, wanted the honor roll to be located in Lewisburg but plans for siting the monument shifted to Mifflinburg.

The World War II Honor Roll Monument was erected in the Mifflinburg Community Park on July 4, 2003; the dedication ceremony was held Nov. 8. The monument, 45 feet long by 8 feet tall, includes numerous bronze panels with 2,260 names of Union County men and women who served in World War II; 59 of those honored paid the supreme sacrifice.

Additional plaques honor those who served during the Korean and Vietnam wars, the destruction of the USS Cole and the attack and collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The final cost of the monument was $250,000. Hess, who serves as president of the Union County Veteran’s Foundation, does the majority of the monument’s upkeep, with help from son-in-law Doug Walter, of Lewisburg.

“I want to see what he and Drew started continue,” Walter said.

Three years ago Hess and Walter created a Veteran’s Day program to raise money for a different worthwhile organization each year. Past recipients have included the USO and Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors. This year’s ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m., Nov. 3, at the monument, benefits the Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home.

“The VA home is such a wonderful place to help as 100 percent of what is donated—whether it’s clothes, money or gift cards—goes to the residents,” Walter said.

“We want the young people to carry on the torch,” Hess added. “It is very important. We have a really good program.”

For more information, visit

Visit for more information about the Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 3, 2018.

Free: A Victorian Home

Ted Parker remembers time spent at his grandparents seven-bedroom Victorian home in Lewisburg, running through the halls with his older sister Frannie, racing up the two steep staircases and exploring the attic. Soon the home, built in 1839 on land known as Brook Park Farm, may be nothing more than a fond memory.

The Blaise Alexander dealership along Route 45, which has owned the home and lot since 2015, is expanding. That means there isn’t room for the house, which was the home of James Moore III, who was instrumental in founding the Baptist church in Lewisburg—what is now Bucknell University. Unless someone moves the Victorian home, the house will be demolished later this year or in early 2019 to make way for a lot to include 80 vehicles.

“I think it would be a shame if it is demolished,” said Parker, an attorney in the San Francisco area. “Although it’s not listed as a historic landmark, to lose it to a car lot is tragic.”

Aubrey Alexander of Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships said the dealership expansion is very much needed and the company is more than willing to give the house to someone free of charge, provided the person relocates it at their own cost.

“We have an old facility that is dated and very small,” Alexander explained. “Ford has been recommending dealers upgrade their facilities to better serve customers.”

The expansion includes a new 9,000-square-foot building with a larger showroom, more offices and customer lounge.

Alexander said anyone seriously interested in moving the home should contact him by early September.

“I’ve had a few phone calls but nothing serious,” he said.

He said land survey and archaeological surveys were completed with no significant results.

“We did our due diligence on this,” he added.

Supervisor Char Gray cast the dissenting vote when East Buffalo Township Supervisors voted 2-1 last February to approve land development plans, which included demolition of the house. Most recently, the house and an adjoining structure accommodated The Victorian Lady and Vic’s Pub restaurants.

“My stand is you just don’t tear down a 180-year-old house,” Gray said. “In terms of the community, everyone I talk to is upset about this. I called Bucknell [University] and was told they weren’t interested in saving the house at this time. This reminds me of the Joni Mitchell lyric, ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’“

Gray also contacted the PBS show This Old House to determine interest in saving the house but has not had a response.

While the home is significant for its connection to Moore, a founder of Bucknell University, Parker said he treasures the history the Victorian house has played in his family. Parker’s grandfather, Robert N. Parker, president of Pennsylvania House, purchased the home in 1936. After Robert’s wife Ruth died around 1945, their daughter and her husband, Virginia and Denver Dyer, moved from Tennessee to live with Robert until his death around 1958. Virginia sold the house after Denver died in 1972.

“I feel sad about it and the history about to be lost,” said Parker.

Anyone interested in moving the home should contact Aubrey Alexander at

Art in Milton

Brice Brown chooses from among a Leon Kelley, Kurt Seligmann and André Masson for the upcoming Surrealism exhibit.

Five years ago Brice Brown, an artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, dreamed of creating an art space to focus on artists and conversations their work could generate. His vision, Milton Art Bank, has taken form at a renovated bank building at 23 South Front St., in Milton.

“I wanted it to be a space operating in the historical context of the alternative or artist-run spaces that sprung up in New York City in the 60s and 70s,” said Brown, whose work appears in public collections at the Speed Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Dartmouth College and Yale University. “They served to re-empower art in its function of communicating ideas and fostering growth in a community.”

Brown chose Milton for the art bank location since it would “stand out” and reach people in a different way. He also liked Milton’s proximity to New York City, Lewisburg and State College.

“As I was thinking through this idea, and after realizing New York City isn’t the place this kind of space would have the most impact, the old bank building now housing MAB went up for sale in Milton,” said Brown. “It was serendipity, and I purchased the building, and got to work renovating the space into a white box.”

Milton Art Bank is an experiment of sorts to see if art can effect change. The site is used for exhibitions, art installations and performances.

“I want to encourage curious dialogue and engaged participation as a way for people to become active agents of positive change in their community,” explained Brown, who holds dual residences in Milton and New York City.

“In some sense, Milton Art Bank can be seen as a type of probing, expansive, fluctuating art piece in its own right,” added Brown. “And if the art shown at Milton Art Bank alters the way just one person thinks about their world, opening them up to new ideas and experiences outside their comfort zone, I consider that a success.”

Upcoming experiences include Surrealism, on display Nov. 1 through Feb. 24, 2019. The exhibition, in conjunction with an international conference on Surrealism at Bucknell University, will include a selection of European and American Surrealist works from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

“It will be unlike anything that's been shown in the Valley, and will include many museum-quality works by artists such as Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali and Francis Picabia, among many others,” said Brown. “There will be vitrines with rare ephemera such as first editions of Minotaure and Blues, both very important Surrealist magazines. We are also turning the vault—yes, we have a vault!—into a proper Kunstkabinett [cabinet of curiosities], curated from important local art collections.

For more information on Milton Art Bank, visit

Building Service, Character and Leadership

Community service has been ingrained in Maggie Karpinski’s life since the 7th grade. Now 16 and a junior at Shikellamy High School in Sunbury, Karpinksi serves as district governor of the Pennsylvania district of Key Club, an international student-led organization that provides its members with opportunities to perform service, build character and develop leadership.

As district governor, Karpinski is responsible for the 12,000 Key Club members, and more than 200 Key Clubs, within the District of Pennsylvania, first chartered in 1947.

With more than 270,000 members from approximately 5,000 clubs in 30 countries, Key Clubs are sponsored by local Kiwanis International clubs, whose members include local business and professional people. Key Club not only functions on a local level, but also on a district [state] and international level.

“I really like to give back and it’s awesome to make a difference in so many lives,” Karpinski said. “Everyone should experience this in their high school years.”

Karpinski was a member of Builders Club, a Kiwanis group geared toward 11 to 14 year olds. Kiwanis also offers community service clubs for elementary school-aged students, college students and adults living with disabilities.

“The fact you can move group to group and not lose any of the core values is really nice,” said Marsha Kouf, co-advisor of the Shikellamy Key Club.

Kouf is proud of Karpinski’s accomplishments, and those of all students she has worked with in Key Clubs, specifically those in the Shikellamy Key Club, the oldest in Pennsylvania. The club turns 75 in May 2019 and is sponsored by Sunbury and Northumberland Point Township Kiwanis clubs.

“Key Clubs serve a need for a lot of kids,” Kouf said. “Key Club can be where if you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere else, you can find your fit with Key Club. We focus on leadership, inclusiveness, character building and caring. If you are willing to volunteer, we are more than happy to help you.”

Kouf’s involvement with Key Clubs and Kiwanis goes back far longer than her years as co-advisor. She was a member of Builders Club and her father, Maurice Wilkinson, was a member of Kiwanis.

“It’s definitely in my blood,” she said. “It very much is a family atmosphere. We encourage kids to make this a life action or practice.”

For more information, visit or

Honoring History in Williamsport

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—at least for those planning the 20th anniversary of Victorian Christmas, a three-day event  (Nov. 16 through 18) in Williamsport featuring an artisan market; historic talk; tree lighting with caroling; and tours of picturesque homes, museums and historic buildings.

Funds raised provide for beautification of the historic district through the purchase and maintenance of floral baskets mounted to the district’s lampposts during summer, and lighted wreaths and garlands on the posts during winter holidays. Funding also goes toward the planting and maintenance of rosebushes and flowers at the district’s main portal on West Fourth Street and to benefit the Rowley House Museum.

“I have always loved learning about the rich history of our area and especially during the opulent Victorian time-period,” said Jill Confair, chairwoman of the Victorian Christmas committee and co-chairwoman of the house tour committee. “These wonderful homes and buildings are truly a gift to our city, which need to be preserved and maintained for future generations to experience.”
Victorian Christmas began with a conversation among friends. While at the Peter Herdic House Restaurant in March 1998, Nan Young, Ted Lyon Jr. (deceased) and Gloria Miele were talking about the historic district, which Young said “was in terrible shape.”

“Grassy lots were filled with old tires and junk,” said Young, who is president of Victorian Christmas and co-chairwoman of the house tour committee. “Houses had leaky roofs, little paint and more. [While] having a glass of wine at the Peter Herdic House Restaurant, we decided to have a tour of homes in the historic district.”

That decision has led to a lasting community tradition that has helped shape the beautification of Williamsport’s historic district.

“The district is something of which to be proud and Victorian Christmas is one of the main events in our city,” Young said.
The 20th anniversary theme “The Spirit of Downtown Williamsport: Past, Present, and Future” focuses on the downtown and changes that have occurred.

“We have more downtown historic buildings on the tour this year including the Scottish Rite and Acacia Club, the Community Arts Center, Old Corner Hotel and Williamsport’s City Hall, and all will have their history presented with photos of the past,” Confair said. “We plan to have copies of old photos depicting various other downtown locations versus current [ones].”

One special addition to the tour involves honoring Lyon, who died unexpectedly this year.

“He was so involved as president of the Rowley House Museum,” Young said. “He was also a large owner of student housing in the district used by Penn College and a great supporter of historic preservation. For the anniversary year we will honor him in a home owned by his parents in the historic district [1005 West Fourth St.] and formerly owned by the Cochran family [his relatives].”

For more information, visit

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