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Fall/Winter 2016

Landenberg Today Magazine

No No cages: cages: Landenberg Landenberg photographer photographer

Melissa Pelczar

Inside 1723 Vineyard joins the ranks of Chester County wineries Local teen is dedicated to making the world a better place Photo essay: Landenberg Day Complimentary Copy


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Landenberg Today Fall/Winter 2016

Table of Contents






The spirit and soul of Melissa Pelczar


Battling back from a stroke, one note at a time


Putting down roots


From a life of pain to a new business


The Landscape preservation band


Local teen is dedicated to making the world a better place


Q & A Kalia Reynolds, Ed.D.


Photo essay: celebrating Landenberg Day


Profile of Bill Fili, flight engineer

88 Cover design by Tricia Hoadley Cover photograph by Melissa Pelczar 6

Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Celebrating Landenberg Letter from the Editor: Welcome to the fall issue of Landenberg Today. Our writers and photographers once again found the Landenberg area to be rich with interesting—and sometimes inspirational—stories. We were there on Aug. 6 when a Landenberg Day celebration took place for the first time in years. More than 1,000 people turned out for the event at Borderland Vineyard. The photo essay in this issue looks back at the special day. We’ll also introduce you to Melissa Pelczar, a photographer who was born and raised in Landenberg. We talk to Ben and Sarah Daily-Cody about their efforts to launch the 1723 Vineyard, which joins the ranks of Chester County’s burgeoning winery scene. We share the inspirational story of Don Mann, who is utilizing music to overcome the effects of a stroke that he suffered last year. This issue also includes a story about how New Garden Township’s Open Space Review Board is helping Landenberg retain its pastoral identity, one acre at a time. The subject of the Q & A is Kalia Reynolds, Ed.D., the director of elementary teaching and learning at the Avon Grove School District. She talks about the school district’s preparations for a full-day kindergarten program, and the benefits that students and parents should see as a result of the program. We also profile Sierra RyanWallick, a local teen who is dedicated to making the world a better place. Since the age of 10, Sierra has been volunteering her time and energy to help non-profit organizations, and she created her own organization, AutumnLeaf Fundraisers. We also introduce local resident Bill Fili, whose exhibit at the New Garden Flying Field in Toughkenamon documents his heroic experiences as a flight engineer during World War II. We hope that you enjoy reading the stories in this issue as much as we enjoyed preparing them. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for future stories. We’re already looking forward to our next issue, which will arrive in the spring of 2017. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher, 610-869-5553 Steve Hoffman, Editor, 610-869-5553, ext. 13 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


—————|Landenberg Arts|————— Born and raised in Landenberg, photographer Melissa Pelczar has followed her inner voice, one that doesn’t know boundaries or limits, and it has made all the difference

No cages: The spirit and soul of Melissa Pelczar Photo by Richard L. Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


hen Melissa Pelczar was growing up on a dairy farm in Landenberg, she owned her own island. It wasn’t a real island, but rather an inlet in the middle of the White Clay Creek, 20 feet long and about six feet wide, and connected to the creek bank by a small bridge that she made. It even had its own pond. There were other small patches of earth along the creek that protruded above the water, and they were given names like Snake Pit and Rock City, but this one was all hers. While the men in the Hocking family worked from sunrise to sundown at the farm, Melissa spent her summers barefoot and outdoors, rafting along the creek with her friends or building forts in the nearby woods. She drew in coloring books. She studied the photographs in the National Geographic the family subscribed to – images that took her to other parts of the planet.

Continued on Page 10


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Photos (11) by Melissa Pelczar

Melissa Pelczar’s Landenberg photographs illuminate the rich colors and texture of country life. | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Pelczar Continued from Page 8

Then the world the young girl was given began to speak to her. It revealed its vulnerabilities. It lifted up its veil and invited her to solve its riddles, its secrets. It shared its sloppiness and its beauty, and it was sweet and hard and poignant and occasionally suffering. She was the kid outlier, and it posed for her. The life that Melissa Pelczar, 32, now leads as a Landenberg-based creative and commercial photographer -- inspired by her work as an artist and a sculptor -- captures the same narrative of her childhood, one that opens a door and invites the viewer to take a leap into the backstory of the freezeframed document. “My photography attempts to invite someone in, to enter into the moment,”


Pelczar defines her photography as ‘peeling the film of reality from the fabric of the universe.’

Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

said Pelczar, who lives in Landenberg with her husband, Jacek. “To invite everyone to leave the senses of their immediate reactions in order to view the photos with a clean slate, and then, step into that separate universe. I’m trying to capture the spirit of a place, or someone, a place and the being of it, no matter where it is or who it is.” In many ways, the lifelong journey that has led Pelczar to find her creative voice began as a search for new islands. After graduating from Avon Grove High School in 2002, she graduated from the Delaware College of Art and Design two years later. She graduated from Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., in 2006, and then went overseas to study archaeology Continued on Page 12

‘My photography attemts to invite someone in, to enter into the moment.’




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Pelczar Continued from Page 11

and metaphysical fragmentation of humanity at the University of Oslo in Norway, and then at Charles University in Prague, in the Czech Republic. Soon after accepting a job as an English teacher in Poland in 2008, she met her husband and got married in 2009, and lived and worked in Poland for the next two years. During her time there, Jacek bought his wife a Canon camera. Having only taken three introductory classes during school, Pelczar was not well versed on the technical aspects of shooting, but decided the best way to learn was to practice. In 2011, she and Jacek moved to Continued on Page 14

Her work lends a sensorial depth, as seen through the use of shadow and light.

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‘Melissa preserves a moment. She makes it her own,’ said her husband, Jacek.

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Pelczar Continued from Page 12

Landenberg, down the road from the farm where she grew up. Although she launched her photography career only a short time after she returned home, Pelczar has already amassed a large portfolio of portraiture, landscapes, architecture and commission work. “Even though I am not formally trained in photography, I learned how to compose from my work in painting, illustration and sculpture,” she said. “I search for the same light, color and form.” Her work has already begun to draw the admiration of others. “Melissa’s art transports you to a moment, a feeling, giving you a small piece of her, yet allowing you to make that moment your own,” said her friend and fellow photographer, Anteia Consorto. “It’s beautiful and timeless. In a digital age where everyone’s a ‘photographer,’ it’s so easy to get lost in the crowd, yet she sets herself apart and shows us that she’s truly an artist that deserves our appreciation.” “Melissa’s art invokes the desire of those viewing her work to learn more about the spirit and soul of the places and


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Pelczar’s rural landscapes and portraits are influenced by her childhood growing up on a Landenberg dairy farm.

people captured by her lens,” said her friend, Jeff Eastburn. “It is a gift to see such talent in today’s world; it allows us to transport ourselves to another place and time; to give us a much-needed break from our own chaotic universes.” Continued on Page 16 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Pelczar Continued from Page 14

“The work she does is not only taking pictures,” Jacek said. “Melissa preserves a moment. She makes it her own, and it stays forever. In reality, that moment has come and has passed, and if it were not for her photograph, that moment would fade away.” In September, the Pelczars headed back to Poland for the next two years, while Melissa pursues a Masters’ in socio-cultural anthropology from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. The mission of her studies there will dovetail with her life as a photographer. She will study how art influences cultures, and how artists make a determination to Continued on Page 18

For the next two years, Pelczar will pursue a graduate degree in Poland, studying how art influences cultures.



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Pelczar Continued from Page 16

pursue their art as either a hobby or a profession. “Is the art leading them, or are they leading the art, and is art really an offering to some sort of divine being?” she said. “We cage ourselves in so many ways, and artists are trying to break through that cage, but they are confined to that cage by their medium. So how does the artist work by not being constricted by cages?” On her website, which she calls Spirit and Soul, Pelczar has defined her photography as “peeling the film of reality from the fabric of Continued on Page 20


Her photographs of the White Clay Creek lend an animated quality to the flowing stream.

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Pelczar Continued from Page 18

the universe.” Her photography, she wrote, serves as “gateways to other worlds, ones that have passed, ones that will become or ones that never existed, bound by frame and endless in imagination. “What is their meaning?” she wrote. “If you would listen carefully, you would know by now it does not matter. The important thing is: What are they to you? None of them mean anything without a person to look at them, appreciate them, lose themselves inside one of [them]. What they really are is a gift of memories and feelings that do not even have to be yours, but you can make your own. “Through them, I want to show you places you never knew existed, people you will never meet and

‘My photography serves as gateways to other worlds...’

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—————|Landenberg People|—————

Photo by John Chambless

Don Mann of Landenberg is working to strengthen his playing abilities after suffering a stroke.

Battling back from a stroke, one note at a time 22

Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

By John Chambless Staff Writer


s a self-described type-A person with a long career of giving 100 percent to everything he’s done, Don Mann is learning to slow down and focus his energy on smaller tasks after a stroke last year stopped him in his tracks. Mann, 68, has lived in Landenberg since 1996. His resume is remarkably diverse, including stints in the Air Force, as a research scientist for the Army, as a munitions designer for the Army, as a sales manager, and as the head of a purchasing consulting group with MBNA Bank, where he specialized in cost efficiency measures. Continued on Page 24

Courtesy photo

Don Mann and Lewis Lott perform a small concert for a stroke survivors group in May. | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Mann Continued from Page 23

All those years, he was also focused on his faith, as the author of several books, including “OK, God, Now What?” and as the leader of an online support group and faith resource at If you spend any time with Mann, his boundless energy and cando attitude come through loud and clear. He has needed that attitude – and his rock-solid faith – to rearrange his life since Sept. 16, 2015. He started his day with an online prayer meeting through his website. “I got up from the chair, and my leg was a little numb,” Mann said during an interview at his home. “And my arm was tingling, like it had gone to sleep. But that didn’t register anything with me, so I went out and I worked in the yard, dug up trees and stuff. That night, my wife said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ She noticed I was limping. I said, ‘I just stove myself up today. It’ll work out.’ That’s what I thought. “The next day, I had to take my grandson to a

track meet down in Dover. At that time, I had a pickup truck with a manual transmission. And my left leg didn’t work. So it was a rather brutal, jumpy ride to get over to my daughter’s house. “I was getting the idea that things were wrong,” Mann said. “This was lasting a long time. When I got to my daughter’s house in Hockessin, I could still function. My daughter took one look at me, and my face was drooping and I was tilting to the left side. She’s a nurse, so she sat me down and called 911.” Mann was at Christiana Care Health System for three days, “pretty well bedridden,” he said. “It got worse as I laid in bed. More things were dying in my head. The trajectory of a stroke may take a week to have its full impact. It shuts a lot of things off, and the body then fights to get blood to the parts that are in trouble. One of the things that happens right away is that your blood pressure goes through the Continued on Page 26

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Mann Continued from Page 24

roof as your body is trying to push blood into these areas, and your blood sugar spikes. Your brain is trying to save you.” After being stabilized, Mann was sent to rehabilitation for three weeks, and eventually to outpatient care at Christiana Care Family Medicine at Springside in Newark. On his first day, back at the hospital, he had shared a room with Lewis Lott, who had been admitted to the hospital on the same day as Mann, having also suffered a stroke. He was a professional guitar player, and Mann had been a lifelong musician as well, often leading worship bands in church. Mann remembers slurring his words for a day or two, and not being able to move the fingers on his left hand. “I’m left-handed,” he noted. “But I’ve always been somewhat ambidextrous, so now I’m righthanded for the time being.” Mann’s stroke affected his motor functions, and “when I wiggle the fingers on my left hand,” he said, demonstrating the action, “I can feel the muscles


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

tightening up in my lower arm.” Those motions are precisely the ones involved in playing guitar. For his new friend, Lott, the circumstances were more dire. As a touring musician, he could no longer sing clearly, and he couldn’t remember how to play the songs he used to know by heart. The two men bonded over their struggles and worked to encourage each other as they fought back against the effects of their strokes. “It’s been eight months now, and as of January or February, I no longer need a daily nap,” Mann said. “I had a brain injury in my 40s after ear surgery, when I couldn’t keep my balance. If I shook my head, I’d pass out. So I learned to respect when I was out of gas and had to lie down.” The stroke has challenged his passionately driven style of living, but Mann doesn’t feel that it was a divine warning to slow down. “Many people think that God uses the devil to get messages to you. I think that God’s waiting for you to stand up and teach the

devil a lesson,” he said. “But the bottom line is that I did slow down, whether I wanted to or not.” Things that Mann had taken for granted – like simply lifting his leg to wash in the shower – became arduous tasks that his wife, Cindy, had to assist him with. Mann continues a grueling regimen of daily exercises and therapy to strengthen his left side. “I used to do 100 push-ups every morning,” he said. “Now I can’t do the full motion – I have no control in going down – but I do modified movements.” Every time he picks up a guitar, or the bass he has switched to because it’s not as taxing, he is working muscles that have been weakened. The mental demands of playing music are good therapy, but challenging, he said. “I used to be able to play guitar without looking down at the strings,” he said. “Now I have to look at the strings and remember what I’m doing and read the music. But I’m getting to be able to play longer. I can practice for an hour, twice a day.”


While he and Lott were working together on physical therapy, they were given a goal – to play a concert for the Christiana Care Rehabilitation Services stroke survivor support group. “From March to May, that was our focus,” Mann said. He and Lott worked out a 20-minute set that they presented to the small group in May. The event was filmed, and will serve as an inspiration for other stroke survivors. “Lewis can’t sing like he used to,” Mann said, “so that left me to play bass and sing. I think it went pretty well,” he said of the concert. “The audience didn’t hear anything wrong, anyway.” Mann said he and Lott are ready to perform a concert for any other groups that might be interested, and they’re working on adding more songs to their repertoire. As a writer and lecturer, Mann was verbally skilled to begin with, but after his stroke, writing “became labor,” he said. “My brain wasn’t working as sharply Continued on Page 28





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Mann Continued from Page 27

as before. I had to go back and double-check what I had written to make sure what I wrote was intelligible.” He has nothing but praise for everyone at the University of Delaware’s physical, speech and occupational therapy program. “I was over at the Star Center in Newark the other day, being assessed for stroke studies. It’s No. 1 in the nation for physical therapy,” he said. “Through this opportunity, I’ve met the nicest people on the planet. At Christiana, at Wilmington Rehab and at Springside – they’re all absolutely wonderful people. Encouraging, knowledgeable, professional. They understand how to work with you, tailoring your therapies to what you can do. ... My first goal after the stroke was to write my name, then to work on a computer keyboard, then to play guitar,” Mann said. “I’m nowhere near where I used to be, but I’m getting better.” He credits his rapid recovery to his constant


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

connection with God. “Without a doubt, I credit it all to the power of prayer,” he said. “I’m living proof. I’m improving four times faster than anybody like me. When I was laying in the hospital in Wilmington, on the third week, I had nurses come in who had seen me the first week, and they said, ‘We thought you would never move that leg.’ The therapists at Springside said, ‘You’re pushing us. Every time you come in, you’re better than you were before. We have to keep ahead of you.’ “Every day, I’m rewiring my brain,” he said. “I just have to keep at it. I believe that if I had a brain scan today, there would be less dead area than three days after my stroke. “There have been lots of answered prayers,” he said with a smile. “Lots of answered prayers.” To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email

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(L to R) Tracy Nino - EFDA, Lindsey Mccabe - EFDA, General/ Ortho Asisstant, Dulce Villagomez - Ortho/General Asistant.

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Dr. Charkas (Orthodontist) and Daniella Guzman (Receptionist) D

Expert Dental Care for the Entire Family to erase the typical barriers to care that many children face. All children have the right to see the dentist and have happy and healthy teeth”. In addition to accepting a wide range of insurances Dr. Jenny is willing to work with you to implement the best treatment plan for your budget. “Some dentists examine a patient and give them a very expensive treatment plan, which is either all or nothing, and no other options. This naturally scares the patient and prevents them from undergoing much-needed dental care. We work with a patient within their budget or insurance limitations and prioritize. You can get a few teeth Àxed this year, and a few next year” Dr. Jenny says. Another aspect of the practice that Dr. Jenny is proud of is her willingness to squeeze in emergencies. A wide range of emergency dental services are offered, and often people can be seen on the same day as they call. Tooth pain can be very serious, and we want to help as much as we can. To this end, the practice offers convenient hours including evenings and Saturdays. The practice stays up-to-the-minute with technology as well, Dr. Jenny said, including the i-CAT, a three-dimensional dental imaging tool that allows the doctors to examine teeth and surrounding structures with amazing accuracy. Because the i-CAT allows the staff to view a patient’s oral structures from different angles on a monitor, the doctors can create more comprehensive treatment plans. This is extremely useful for implant placement, and the practice has an implant specialist

for complex cases, including multiple implants for denture stabilization. “This advanced x-ray system allows us to take 3-D photos, whereas previously we were only able to diagnose from 2-D images,” Dr. Jenny said. “With this technology, we have a better understanding of the patient’s anatomy and dental problems, and can more accurately recommend procedures. Very few general dentists have this technology. Everything’s very advanced in our ofÀce. We’re constantly looking for new technologies.” Jenny Chen Pediatric and Family Dentistry is open Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit Jenny Chen Pediatric and Family Dentistry West Grove, PA • 610-869-0991 207 N. Guernsey Road For our friends in Lancaster County:

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Front row (L to R) Dr. Ahmad Charkas, Dr. Jenny Chen, Dr. Michael Lemper. Second row (L to R) Dulce Villagomez, Vicky Zhu, Tracy Nino, Diana Fraticelli, Paula Williams, Andrea Mireles, Lindsey McCabe. Third row (L to R) Dalila Padron, Daniella Guzman, Edgar Beltran.

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Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

1723 Vineyard joins the ranks of Chester County wineries By Lisa Fieldman Correspondent


he 1723 Vineyard began as a wish granted, though no fairy godmother was involved. “One day Ben asked me what I would want if I could have anything,” said Sarah Daily-Cody. “I said, ‘Oh, I’d like to own a vineyard.’” Fast forward a few years, and her desire has become a reality. Tucked back off New London Road in Kemblesville is their new vineyard. The vines are in the ground, and the Codys are working with the township on plans for a tasting room and production facility that will break ground in the spring. “Everyone has been so supportive. The township people have been very helpful from the start,” Ben said. There have definitely been a lot of steps involved, but Sarah and Ben never saw them as barriers. “If you just work with people instead of fight them, everyone

gets what they want. The regulations are there for a reason,” he said. Having the vineyard situated where it is holds great appeal for the Codys. “We are all about being local,” Ben explained. “Even if I had millions of dollars, I would still build something that fits with the surrounding area. We want to make wine that people around here – our friends and neighbors – will enjoy. People can see the vineyard and feel they are a part of it. It’s great to be right here in town.” Ben and Sarah especially enjoy when people stop in to see what’s going on and talk about the vines. They are both history buffs and wanted to incorporate area history into the name of the winery. Ben readily admitted that Sarah is solely responsible for the name, 1723 Vineyard. “Sarah has a flair for marketing, and she knows if I were to name the vineyard, it would be something silly,” he said, laughing. The winery is located in Continued on Page 34 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


1723 Continued from Page 33

Franklin Township, so the couple researched the area and found it was chartered in 1723 as part of New London Township. They believe that two acres of their vineyard were also part of Benjamin Franklin’s landholdings. They felt 1723 Vineyard would be a unique name and reflect the history of the area. “Since we have a historical name, we were hoping to have an old barn or foundation on site as a tie-in,” said Sarah. Lacking that, the plan is to build a modern facility with architecture that reflects the agricultural community. The Codys have a clear concept for their tasting room. “We want an open, relaxing space,

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

Sarah Daily-Cody of 1723 Vineyards.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

something that feels like you are in an older farmhouse,” Sarah said. Both Ben and Sarah come from farming backgrounds. “We are both from fourth-generation farming families,” she explained. Sarah was raised in Northern Indiana, where the family farm grows crops and raises some pigs and cattle. Ben is from a cattle-ranching family in Oklahoma. Though farming is in their genes, neither Ben nor Sarah knew much about growing wine grapes. “We did some peach farming in Oklahoma,” Ben said, “but growing grapes is a little different.” Ben met his mentor, Cain Hickey, at a viticulture conference shortly after Hickey received his doctorate in horticulture from Virginia Tech. “Cain is a young guy at the forefront of a lot of research. He has some very innovative ideas around viticulture,” Ben said. Sarah and Ben relocated from Washington, D.C., to Kemblesville to live closer to Ben’s two boys. Once settled, they started looking for a vineyard site. Sarah

would drive past the former bean farm every day on her way to work. The lots were originally slated for development, but for some reason, the project was shut down. Before they made an offer, Hickey came and examined the property. He looked at the slopes to make sure they were suitable for a vineyard and took soil samples to see if grapes would thrive. With the test results in hand, Cain shared the good news that the vines would grow well at the site. “Soils around here are well drained and that’s what a vine wants,” Ben said. The first 3,000 vines were planted by hand, with the help of Ben and Sarah’s families. Five thousand vines were put in the ground later using some mechanization. “Tim Hosmer from Benchmark Custom Vineyard Planting has a great machine,” Ben said. “It digs a trench and you walk behind it and tuck the plant in.” In Ben’s view, the planting method doesn’t affect how the vines grow. Having done it both ways, he explained, Continued on Page 36

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1723 Continued from Page 35

“It’s crazy to plant by hand, and the GPS-guided rows are super straight.” The first planting included grapes such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, sauvignon blanc, and muscat ottonel. Next fall’s harvest will yield grapes from all the varietals and will include riesling, landot noir, and albarino to name a few. The couple will narrow down the varieties over time. Initial tastings will focus on their white wines and possibly a rose. The red wines will roll out in the fall of 2017. The Codys are excited to see which wines people prefer. The vineyard will have a larger range of wines at the start, and the focus may shift according to consumer demand. Ben explained, “We are going to have premium wines, but it won’t be a pretentious place.” Their goal is to have wines that are affordable to drink every day, as well as more expensive wines for a special occasion or for the collector. Ben and Sarah reached out to other area wineries before planting 1723 Vineyards. “Doc Harris over at

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Paradocx has been wonderful, just really supportive,” said Ben, “as has Zach Wilson of Wilson’s Vineyard in Nottingham.” Borderland Vineyard in Landenberg has also has been helpful to the new vintners. Sara said, “We met with all of them before we planted a vine, and everyone made time to talk with us.” People may have the perception that it’s a really competitive business, but the Codys have experienced a warm welcome. “Most people that are successful in this business know that we all share,” Ben said. “There may be some people who are less collaborative, and that’s fine, but you’ll find most of those people don’t come from an agricultural background. If you are a farmer at heart, you’ll absolutely collaborate.” Growing wine grapes is labor-intensive work, and it is pretty much handled entirely by Ben and Sarah. Both are employed full-time, so the vineyard work is definitely a labor of love. Continued on Page 38

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1723 Continued from Page 36

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“We do as much as we can in two ten-hour days each week. I bet I’ve walked seven or eight miles today,” Ben said after working the vines. Ben is particular about the vine work, which is why he tends to do it himself. But he does foresee hiring some help in the future. He reminisced about working in his father’s peach orchard. “Dad was so particular and wouldn’t let me prune. I’m sort of the same way,” he said, laughing. Occasionally his two sons, Alex and Daniel, help out, but they have other interests, which Ben understands because at their age he too was more interested in hanging out with friends than working on the farm. Hickey continues to be an invaluable help. He has done interesting research on when to expose the fruit to sunlight for ripening. “We’ve implemented a lot of his research,” Sarah said. Exposing the fruit means pulling off all the leaves around the young grapes so that sunlight can reach them. In addition, this allows the circulating air to keep the fruit dry, decreasing the chance of rot and disease, and increasing the fruit quality. The fruit is ripening fast using Hickey’s techniques of taller canopies that are more open at the top, with the fruit exposed. Cain’s research found that if fruit is exposed immediately after the little green berries come out, you can do so without sunburn, because the vine will respond by increasing the amount of chlorophyll and other compounds. It’s the same idea when a person slowly builds up a tan to avoid sunburn. “Cain’s studies have shown that as long as you don’t have over 200 hours a year of direct sunlight exposure at over 95 degrees, you are golden,” Ben explained. “You couldn’t do that in Napa or Bordeaux, because they have a much more northern latitude, but it is key here for growing better fruit.” Sarah and Ben embrace the science of vine-growing. “In this industry, some people rely too much on folklore,” Ben said. “Or people follow techniques that were developed in other regions. You need to do what works in your area. We’re farmers, and farmers are all about science.” Continued on Page 40

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1723 Continued from Page 38

Sarah and Ben’s families are extremely supportive of their new venture. “There is a lot of interest back home,” Sarah said. Ben’s father arrived to help prepare the land. He also built a sprayer. Both families arrived in large numbers to assist with planting the vines. The Codys are expecting a baby girl in October. “I’m due during harvest season, so my sister will be coming in for two weeks,” Sarah said. “That will be a huge help.” Even when the families cannot be together, they provide moral support. “My family likes to drink wine,” Ben said, laughing, “so they are super excited for us.” With the arriving baby, Ben’s two sons, and 8,000 “teenage” grape vines, the Codys have a full plate. They are anticipating and planning the grand opening of their tasting room next summer. “We are here, everybody knows us. I want everyone to feel very welcome and to come by any time,” Ben said. Right now, the 1723 Vineyard is planning to hold daytime events, rather than large evening ones. “We are


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

on friendly terms with our neighbors and want to keep it that way!” Ben said. “I love being part of this town. People say to me, ‘I drove by and saw your new plantings.’ I love when people come out and ask questions. It’s just super cool. We really like this area. It’s a beautiful place.” 1723 Vineyard is located at 5 McMaster Blvd. in Landenberg. For more information, visit the 1723 Vineyard Facebook page.

—————|Landenberg Business|—————

Photo by John Chambless

Bill Larson suffered with chronic pain for years before he created a lotion made of all natural ingredients.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

From a life of pain to a new business Bill Larson is at the helm of a company that hopes to offer relief to everyone By John Chambless Staff Writer


t his lowest point, Bill Larson wasn’t just suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease. He was caught in a downward spiral of prescription painkillers that only made his agony worse. Life did not seem worth living. That’s when he decided to stop being an obedient patient and take his treatment into his own hands. Today, Larson is operating a new company based in West Grove that manufactures and sells the only treatment that managed to alleviate his pain. But it has been a long road. “I didn’t really take care of myself when I was younger,” Larson said. “I did a lot of construction work, so I’d be in pain, but I’d keep going.” In 2007, he suffered a migraine that lasted some 44 days. Doctors told him he probably had Multiple Sclerosis, but they weren’t positive. For the next six years, Larson was in and out of treatment as doctors tried to find a combination of drugs that would help him. “All three conditions are completely unrelated,” Larson said with a slight smile. “I’m just the unluckiest person I know. As far as I can tell, they just happened. My mother has Fibromyalgia, so I don’t know if that’s part of it.” With his wife supporting him, and a young son who didn’t understand why dad couldn’t get down on the floor to play, Larson worked his way through steroid infusions, injections of Copaxone, Gabapentin (16 pills per day), Tylenol-3, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone (at one point, he was taking six a day), Naproxen, aspirin and ultimately methadone. The methadone, given as a last resort by pain specialists, would cause him to nod off to sleep mid-sentence, and still suffer from nausea and pain. And there were other drugs as well, meant to counteract the nausea, fatigue and depression that plagued Larson. “I never took all of these at once, but I was always taking more than one, so I don’t really know which drugs were giving me which side effects,” he said.

Continued on Page 44 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Lotion Continued from Page 43

Larson stops short of blaming his doctors, but said, “as a culture, we have too much reliance on medicine. I mean, doctors are very good at what they do, but there’s just so much to know about the human body. It’s a lot to put on someone to assume that they’re going to know the exact best thing for what your body needs. All of us need to be more informed about what’s going on with our bodies. We can make a lot of our own decisions, and let the doctors specialize in the areas they’re great at.” Ultimately, after the methadone, Larson decided that taking control of his treatment had to be better than the path he’d been on. “After that, I never went back to the pain management doctors,” he said. “I thought I could do better myself. But at that time, I was still on other prescriptions that other doctors had given me. I stayed with those, but stopped adding new ones.” Courtesy photo All Natural Pain Relieving At about that time, Larson had met Dennis Sauer, who lives near New Lotion is made in Kemblesville. London. Sauer recommended a path of natural remedies, and Larson found new reason to live. “That’s what got me started in my research,” Larson said. “When I started to wean off the other medications, I was also using natural remedies like essential oils, and finding more relief from them than I was from the medications. “As I was researching and learning more and helping myself, and as I was developing the pain lotion, it was really rewarding to find that I was able to help other people with pain,” Larson said. “Not only could I help myself get Continued on Page 46


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Lotion Continued from Page 44

better, but I could help other people get through the same kind of situation.” For two years, and through about 10 different versions, Larson persevered with pain-relieving lotion formulations until he found one that worked the best. Today, his company, I Want Natural, makes and sells All Natural Pain Relieving Lotion online. The ingredients are all homeopathic or naturally occurring substances. “It’s made in a lab we constructed,” Larson said. “Everything’s in-house. That gives us quality control by using good manufacturing practices. The equipment is these big tanks that are almost like a reverse water heater. The outside is filled with water that you can heat up, and the inside is hollow, where you can produce the product.” Larson smiled and admitted that marketing a “miracle cure” strikes skeptical people as a scam. And he acknowledges that at first he didn’t know if the relief he was feeling was simply due to the fact that he wanted the product to work. “We gave it to friends and family and people we knew with different medical conditions, and it was unanimous across the board – everyone was finding success with it,” he said. “At that point, I realized it wasn’t just me. This stuff works. “We have two things going for us to convince people,” he continued. “The first one is, try it. And my story, too. This isn’t some product that we threw out there because we wanted to make money. This started as me trying to treat myself, and it just evolved into what it is now.” The key ingredients – among them aloe, leaf and bark extracts, several essential oils and chamomile – give the product a fresh smell, like a cup of mint tea. It is non-greasy and works when rubbed into the skin. “The ingredients are the same ingredients that cultures from around the world have used for thousands of years,” Larson said. “We’re just kind of bringing them together into one product.” The lotion is FDA compliant, he said, which means that there’s nothing harmful in it, and it has met some strict regulations. To submit a product for full FDA approval costs millions of dollars and plenty of lawyers, putting it well out of the reach of the people behind the I Want Natural company – all eight of them. Continued on Page 48


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Lotion Continued from Page 46

Sauer and Larson are co-founders of the company, and together they bankrolled the product up to this point. “It turned out to be more expensive than we thought originally,” he admitted. “As much as we’ve seen of other companies, no one’s doing what we are, as far as researching, developing, producing and selling, all in-house.” Scotti Ward, who is working as a marketing person for the product, started out as friends with Dennis Sauer and his wife, Becky. “He started working with Bill on this about three years ago, and I heard their story, and all it took was one conversation with Bill, and it turned me around,” she said. “It got me going toward an all natural way of life. I felt so much better once I went organic with food, and getting rid of chemicals in my life. It all made sense.” There are plans to produce other products under the I Want Natural brand, possibly in the next few months, Larson said. “I got involved with the face lotion and face


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

cleanser, and the lip balm. Now I can’t use anything else,” Ward said. Selling the product online, and maintaining a Facebook presence with updates and testimonials, is the extent of the marketing at this point, Ward said. There is a push toward contacting independent health food and natural product businesses in the area about carrying the lotion. That will mean a lot of knocking on doors, but Larson said he’s ready. “I still have good days and bad days,” he said of his ongoing health problems. “But the difference is that, on bad days, I put on some pain lotion and go about my life. Before, when I had a bad day, I wouldn’t get off the couch. It wasn’t possible. That really helps my confidence level – knowing that something might come up, but I can handle whatever it is. It’s fantastic.” For more information, visit To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email

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—————|Around Landenberg|————— New Garden Township’s Open Space Review Board is helping Landenberg retain its pastoral identity, one acre at a time

The landscape preservation band

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

The New Garden Township Open Space Review Board. From left: Chris Robinson, Randy Lieberman, consultant Erin McCormick, Kecia Crowl, Joe Miscione and Stan Lukoff.

Photo by Chris Robinson

Since its beginning in 2006, the Open Space Review Board has helped to protect more than 1,000 acres of land in the township. 56

Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

“New Garden Township has expressed the desire to retain the remaining rural character and open spaces of the community.” Open Space and Recreation Plan, Chapter 13, New Garden Township Comprehensive Plan By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


arrogate North resident Joe Miscione, now a retired engineer, grew up in New York City. Landscape-wise, the boroughs that comprise the city are about as far away from Landenberg as you can possibly imagine, and as far as open space? Fuhgetaboutit. In the seven years prior to settling in Landenberg, Miscione and his wife were living in Houston, and when it came time to select a place to retire, they looked everywhere.

“Every place we saw was OK, but it wasn’t perfect,” Miscione said. “My wife and I came up here without any knowledge of the area, and one of the pleasant surprises that we found was the amount of open space -and the care and feeding of that open space -- that had been done by some of the groups in the area, as well as the legacy of land left by many others.” For reasons having to do with that care and feeding, Miscione is now a member of the New Garden Township Open Space Review Board. So is Stan Lukoff, a retired DuPont consultant who, with his wife Estelle, Continued on Page 58

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

Representatives from the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, pictured with the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors and Township Solicitor Vince Pompo, entered into an agreement with the township to place a conservation easement on St. Anthony in the Hills. | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Open Space Continued from Page 57




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lives on a seven-acre property in Landenberg, where it is not uncommon to see bald eagles and other birds soaring over the two-acre pond that borders their home. So is Randy Lieberman, a publisher, who with his wife Amy, raised their two children in an historic home in Landenberg, within eyesight of woods and fields where horses run. So is graphic designer Kecia Crowl, a 20-year township resident, who has seen the rejuvenation of birds of prey that have come back to the White Clay Creek. So is township volunteer Chris Robinson, who dedicates his time and energy to the appreciation and preservation of New Garden Township’s history. Together with fellow members Dave Rickerman and Erin McCormick, a consultant from Natural Lands Trust (NLT), these individuals carry the torch that began in 2005, when the Open Space Review Board (OSRB) was founded, to assist landowners with planning to preserve remaining open space. Since its beginning, the OSRB has helped to promote and protect more than 1,000 acres of land -- about 10 percent of the entire township. These efforts are not achieved in board rooms, but through a roll-up-thesleeves approach that begins with walking in fields and pastures, and listening to what the homeowner wants for his or her property. The work is also done in partnership with the NLT and the Friends of the New Garden Trails, a volunteer organization that maintain

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Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

The Open Space Review Board has helped protect more than 1,000 acres in the Landenberg area.

the trails, provides programs related to the trails, and does much of the work required when new trails are established. The financial packages that organizations like the OSRB can provide property owners often fall way short of what commercial and residential real estate developers have in their arsenal. The bargaining chips of the OSRB, however, are in the intangible benefits a homeowner will receive. By working with the township rather than with a real estate developer, a homeowner can take advantage of a federal income tax reduction -- up to 50 percent of an adjusted gross income that owners can carry forward for the next 15 years. “You need a land owner who has some sentiment of wanting to conserve the property,” Robinson said. “If they’re just looking at it in terms of dollars and cents, this is going to be a tougher sell for them, than in the case of a developer who has a different offer. “Our dialogue with property owners has given the Review Board opportunities to educate landowners and the general public about the larger value procured when a property is conserved,” he added. “That is, the increase in value to both their and adjacent residential properties, public recreation, protection of habitat, clean water protection, historic preservation, and less impact on township resources, when compared to residential development.” Protecting land through the OSRB saves money, too. For every dollar communities realize from residential development, $1.16 is paid out by townships and municipalities for services needed to maintain that development. Comparatively, on non-developed land, only 37 cents is paid out. The mission that helped to form the OSRB a decade ago had its roots in the 1993 New Garden Township Open Space, Recreation and Environmental Resources Plan, and is now on the township’s updated comprehensive plan. It has been the blueprint for a success story, one that has formed the proposed 17-mile White Clay Creek loop trail; created Township Park; and continues to pursue other methods of preserving -- and protecting -- open space. Although the bulk of the operating costs to acquire land for conservation comes from the Open Space Fund -created from a 2005 township referendum that operates separately from the township’s general fund -- the township also receives financial assistance from the National Continued on Page 60 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Open Space Continued from Page 59

Park Service, the White Clay Creek Wild & Scenic, and the Chester County Preservation Partnership Program. It’s being put to good use. After years of discussions by the OSRB, the board entered into negotiations on Feb. 23, 2015 to purchase the 178-acre Green Valley Farm, for the purpose of placing a conservation easement on it. While negotiations are still in progress on Green Valley Farm, the OSRB worked with two township residents this past May to place a conservation easement on 23-acre parcel on 480 Church Road. The property, located on the western edge of the township, is in the vicinity of the Brandywine Polo Fields and Glen Willow Orchards. The site is rich in farmland vistas, wetlands, woodlands and trails, and its waterways link to the eastern branch of the White Clay Creek watershed. Declaring it a “win-win” for both the property owners and the township, Lukoff said at a presentation to the board about the property that the acquisition of easements adds conservation value to the township’s environmental and ecological infrastructure, and has


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

very little impact on township services, such as public works, sewer and police service. “When we preserve properties, there’s less of a strain on the ecosystem,” he said. “The preservation of farms is very important and part of our scope. There is a lot of agriculture in this township, and we want to continue to preserve as much as we can.” Perhaps the shining moment in the history of the OSRB occurred last December, when the township’s board of supervisors voted unanimously to enter the township into a conservation easement in cooperation with St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, to preserve 137.6 acres of St. Anthony in the Hills. As part of the agreement, the land will continue to be owned and operated by the church as a camp sanctuary for inner-city Wilmington children, as a lasting legacy to the vision of Father Roberto Balducelli, who served as the founder and caretaker of the facility for 50 years, until his death at the age of 99 in 2013. It was a long time at the negotiation table. The first Continued on Page 62 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Open Space Continued from Page 60

seeds of the collaboration between the township and the parish dated back to 2008, when Father Balducelli approached the township with the idea of entering into a conservation agreement. The OSRB looked at several criteria: The property’s value to the township; its environmental and ecological infrastructure; its connection and access to Greenway trails; its property parcel size; and its proximity to protected land. The property will very easily fit into the public trail connections to the nearby development being planned by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust [PREIT] on Gap-Newport Pike; enhance the quality of life for nearby residents; create lower dollar demands on the township than if the land were to be developed; and increase value to adjacent residential property. The OSRB also saw the environmental factor in acquiring the property: St. Anthony in the Hills contains the headwaters of the National Wild & Scenic White Clay Creek; is a natural habitat for birds and amphibians; and in a 2010 study, was identified as an important factor in improving the water quality of nearby Somerset Lake.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

“I grew up in the township and I knew Father Roberto,” Robinson said. “I knew his spirit, and I also knew that he wanted to preserve that land for future generations. Previous OSRB members knocked on his door, and then they came back to us. It was an opportunity that we felt served both the township and St. Anthony’s.” “For anybody who has had the privilege to meet Father Roberto, this property was his baby,” said Domenick Peronti of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. “He gave birth to it. He nurtured it, and he wanted to see it continue. The people at St. Anthony’s feel that joining this public/private partnership with New Garden Township gives us the ability to keep that vision alive, and continue what Father Roberto dreamed of.” So how do the conservation easements -- both finalized and projected -- look in the big picture of the Landenberg area? Are they linked to the vision of the White Clay Creek Loop Trail? Do they connect with the Mill Race Trail, the Laurel Woods Trail and the Landenberg Junction Trail? One of the goals of the OSRB will be to create a visual

database of information to provide an overview of where their efforts fit within the “Linking Landscapes” objective of the township. It will help spell out high-, medium- and low-priority target points, that can easily serve as a road map for future board members. “It will give the township a lot better understanding of what the resources are and what money needs to be allocated, in order to achieve our goals,” Mascione said. For every large-scale acquisition the OSRB brokers, the truest testament of their work is done one acre at a time. “It’s not only just the big pieces, but the smaller pieces,” McCormick said, pointing to the 1.2-acre Hendrickson property that serves as a trailhead in the New Garden Township Trail System. “It’s a testament to that family to sell that property to the township.” “The land that the Du Pont family left behind in southern Chester County and beyond has been a huge legacy, but our job is to continue that mission, even if it’s only a few acres here and there, or 137 acres,” Crowl said. “It’s all really important, historically and ecologically.” “The frustrations we experience are in the form of seeing people who are sitting on historic and preserved land who are calling the real estate developers or the bulldozers to clear that land, and not considering the long-term ramifications of protecting their land for future generations,” Lieberman said. “The joys are when we get someone who is interested in protecting their land through the township, and there is an engaging conversation with them.” To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@

Continued on Page 64 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Open Space Continued from Page 63

How to preserve your land for future generations If you live in New Garden Township and would like to consider preserving your property as open space in perpetuity, here are the basic steps you will need to take: • Contact the OSRB (, to the attention Chris Robinson), or come to the next OSRB meeting, which is the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the New Garden Township building.

heritage and historic site preservation. • Next, the OSRB evaluates this information and proceeds or declines with development of the conservation easement process.

• After the initial meeting, a member of the board schedules a time to walk the property, looking for features such as scenic vistas, trail connectivity, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, agricultural

• The OSRB and the property owner summarizes the land use restrictions and arranges a property appraisal by the township.

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Rt. 41 — Lancaster Pike M-F 8:30-6 • Sat 8-4:30

Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Continued on Page 66

Photo by Erin McCormick

St. Anthony in the Hills continues to serve as the vision of Father Roberto Balducelli.


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Open Space Continued from Page 64

• With the property owner’s approval of the appraised value, the OSRB recommends to the township supervisors to authorize a final offer to purchase the conservation easement. • If the supervisors approve the offer, they will schedule a public hearing to start negotiations and request NLT to prepare a contract for presenting the offer to the property owner. Negotiations are between the property owner and the township supervisors. • The township will arrange a meeting to sign all necessary documents to purchase the conservation easement. Before exploring development of a property, consider talking with a member of the OSRB to determine conservation options. Funds are available for purchase of conservation easements and, in some situations, may offer comparable value to landowners to outright sale of the property with no easement. For additonal information about the OSRB, contact Chris Robinson at, Erin McCormick at, or call the New Garden Township at 610-268-2915.

McLimans Furniture Warehouse

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Photo by Richard L. Gaw

The Open Space Review Board worked with St. Anthony’s in Wilmington to preserve St. Anthony in the Hills.



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Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 | | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today



A guide to area schools DELAWARE PRIVATE SCHOOLS

St. Andrew’s School 350 Noxontown Road, Middletown, 378-9511,


Archmere Academy 3600 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, 798-6632,

The Tatnall School 1501 Barley Mill Road, Wilmington, 998-2292,

Delaware College of Art and Design 600 N. Market St., Wilmington, 622-8000,

Caravel Academy 2801 Del Laws Road, Bear, 834-8938,

Tower Hill School 2813 W. 17th St., Wilmington, 575-0550,

Delaware State University 3931 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 254-5340,

Hockessin Montessori 1000 Old Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 302-234-1240,

Ursuline Academy 1106 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 658-7158,

Delaware Technical Community College 400 Stanton-Christiana Road, Newark, 454-3900; 333 Shipley St., Wilmington, 5715300,

Independence School 1300 Paper Mill Rd., Newark, 302-239-0332, Layton Preparatory School 6201 Kennett Pike, Centreville, 655-3280, The New School 812 Elkton Road, Newark, 456-9838,

Wilmington Christian School 825 Loveville Road, Hockessin, 239-2121, Wilmington Friends School 101 School Road, Wilmington, 576-2900,

Springfield College 1007 Orange St., Wilmington, 658-5720,


University of Delaware Main Campus in Newark; Wilmington Campus, 831-2792,

Red Lion Christian Academy 1390 Red Lion Road, Bear, 834-2526,

Padua Academy 905 N. Broom St., Wilmington, 421-3739,

Salesianum School 1801 N. Broom St., Wilmington, 654-2495,

St. Elizabeth High School 1500 Cedar St., Wilmington, 656-3369,

Sanford School 6900 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 239-5263,

St. Mark’s High School 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington, 738-3300,


Goldey-Beacom College 4701 Limestone Road, Wilmington, 998-8814,

Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Widener University School of Law 4601 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 477-2100, Wilmington University 320 Dupont Hwy., New Castle, 356-4636; 31 Reads Way, New Castle, 655-5400; 3411 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 877-967-5464; 651 N. Broad St., Middletown, 877-967-5464

PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOLS Avon Grove School District 375 South Jennersville Road West Grove, PA 19390 610-869-2441 Avon Grove High School (610-869-2446) 257 East State Road, West Grove, PA 19390 Fred S. Engle Middle School (610-869-3022) 107 Schoolhouse Road, West Grove, PA 19390 Avon Grove Intermediate School (610-869-2010) 395 South Jennersville Road, West Grove, PA 19390 Penn London Elementary School (610-869-9803) 383 South Jennersville Road, West Grove, PA 19390

Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center (610-444-6260) 409 Center Street, Kennett Square, PA 19348

Unionville High School (610-347-1600) 750 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348

New Garden Elementary School (610-268-6900) 265 New Garden Road, Toughkenamon, PA 19374

Charles F. Patton Middle School (610-347-2000) 760 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348

Oxford Area School District 125 Bell Tower Lane Oxford, PA 19363 610-932-6600

Chadds Ford Elementary School (610-388-1112) 3 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317

Oxford Area High School (610-932-6640) 705 Waterway Road, Oxford, PA 19363

Hillendale Elementary School (610-388-1439) 1850 Hillendale Road, Chadds Ford, PA 19317

Penn’s Grove Middle School (610-932-6615) 301 South Fifth Street, Oxford, PA 19363 Hopewell Elementary School (484-365-6151) 602 Garfield Street, Oxford, PA 19363

Kennett Consolidated School District 300 East South Street Kennett Square, PA 19348 610-444-6600

Elk Ridge School (610-932-6670) 200 Wickersham Road, Oxford, PA 19363

Kennett High School (610-444-6620) 100 East South Street, Kennett Square, PA 19348

Jordan Bank School (610-932-6625) 536 Hodgson Street, Oxford, PA 19363

Kennett Middle School (610-268-5800) 195 Sunny Dell Road, Landenberg, PA 19350

Nottingham School (610-932-6632) 736 Garfield Street, Oxford, PA 19363

Bancroft Elementary School (610-925-5711) 181 Bancroft Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District 740 Unionville Road Kennett Square, PA 19348 610-347-0970

Greenwood Elementary School (610-388-5990) 420 Greenwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348

Continued on Page 70 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


EDUCATION GUIDE Continued from Page 69

Pocopson Elementary School (610-793-9241) 1105 Pocopson Road, West Chester, PA 19382 Unionville Elementary School (610-347-1700) 1775 West Doe Run Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348 Chester County Intermediate Unit Educational Service Center 455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335 Telephone: (484) 237-5000 Chester County Technical College High School Brandywine Campus 484-593-5100 443 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335 Chester County Technical College High School Pennock’s Bridge Campus 610-345-1800 280 Pennock’s Bridge Road, West Grove, PA 19390 Chester County Technical College High School Pickering Campus 610-933-8877 1580 Charlestown Road, Phoenixville, PA 19460-2371


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

NON-PUBLIC SCHOOLS Assumption B.V.M. School (610-869-9576) 290 State Road, West Grove, PA 19390 Bethany Christian School (610-998-0877) 1137 Shadyside Road, Oxford, PA 19363 CFS, The School at Church Farm (610-363-7500) 1001 East Lincoln Highway, Exton, PA 19341-2818 Episcopal Day School (610-644-6181) Church of the Good Samaritan 212 West Lancaster Avenue, Paoli, PA 19301 Kimberton Waldorf School (610-933-3635) 410 W. Seven Stars Rd., P. O. Box 350, Kimberton, PA 19442

Landenberg Christian Academy (610-255-5512) P.O. Box 397, Kemblesville, PA 19347 London Grove Friends Kindergarten (610-268-8466) 500 West Street Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348 Malvern Preparatory School (484-595-1131) 418 South Warren Avenue, Malvern, PA 19355 Sacred Heart School (610-932-3633) 205 Church Road, Oxford, PA 19363 Upland Country Day School (610-444-3035) 420 West Street Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348 Villa Maria Academy Lower School (610-644-4864) 1140 King Road, Immaculata, PA 19345-0600 Continued on Page 72

TCHS Pennock’s Bridge Campus 280 Pennock’s Bridge Road, West Grove, PA 19390 (610) 345-1800

Learn more at... An Equal Opportunity Employer and Educator

TCHS0916005 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


EDUCATION GUIDE Continued from Page 71

West Chester Christian School (610-692-3700) 1237 Paoli Pike, West Chester, PA 19380


West Chester Friends School (610-696-2962) 415 North High Street, West Chester, PA 19380

Avon Grove Charter School (West Grove Campus) (484-667-5000) 110 East State Road, West Grove, PA 19390

Avon Grove Charter School (Early Learning Center) (610-255-5325) 1769 New London Road, Landenberg, PA 19350

Westtown School (610-399-0123) 975 Westtown Road, West Chester, PA 19382 White Clay Learning Center (610-880-0114) 250 New Garden Road, Toughkenamon, PA 19374


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

PENNSYLVANIA AREA COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES Cheyney University of PA (610-399-2220) 1837 University Circle, P. O. Box 200, Cheyney, PA 19319-0200 Delaware County Community College (Marple Campus) (610-359-5000) 901 South Media Line Road, Media, PA 19063-1094 Delaware County Community College (Brandywine Campus) (610-723-1100) 455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335 Delaware County Community College (Brandywine Campus) (610-723-1100) 455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335 Delaware County Community College (Exton Campus) (610-450-6500) 912 Springdale Drive, Exton, PA 19341 Delaware County Community College (Pennock’s Bridge Campus) (610-869-5100) 280 Pennock’s Bridge Road, West Grove, PA 19390 Immaculata University (610-647-4400) 1145 King Road, Immaculata, PA 19345 The Lincoln University (484-365-8000) 1570 Baltimore Pike, Lincoln University, PA 19352 Neumann University (610-459-0905) 1 Neumann Dr., Aston, Pa., Penn State Great Valley (610-648-3200) (School of Graduate Professional Studies) 30 East Swedesford Road, Malvern, PA 19355 Valley Forge Christian College (610-935-0450) 1401 Charlestown Road, Phoenixville, PA 19460 West Chester University of Pennsylvania (610-436-1000) University and High Streets, West Chester, PA 19383 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


—————|Landenberg People|—————

Fundraising for change

Local teen is dedicated to making the world a better place 74

Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Courtesy photos

Sierra RyanWallick with Sam Beard, co-founder and president of the Jefferson Awards Foundation.

By Lisa Fieldman Correspondent


ierra RyanWallick is on a mission to improve the world. “I think it is very important to be part of your community, and to really try to make a positive difference,” she said during an interview at her Landenberg home. Sierra started putting her words into action when she was just 10 years old. She read about a campaign to save the manatees, and at Christmas, she asked to adopt a manatee through the organization. “I’ve always loved all animals, especially cats,” she said. “I asked my mom what I could do to help.” Her mother, Jennifer Ryan, suggested Sierra make and sell things to raise money for a charity. So Sierra Continued on Page 76

In addition to her work as a fundraiser RyanWallick is also a published author, photographer and editor. | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Forgotten Cats Continued from Page 75

knitted washcloths and beaded bracelets, and sold them at the New Garden Growers Market. That first summer, she raised $100 and donated it to a wildlife foundation. “I sent the money with a handwritten letter, asking them to send me brochures I could hand out,” Sierra said. What she received from the foundation was an impersonal postcard, thanking her and directing her to their website for more information. “I felt they really didn’t understand that I was trying to help, so I thought maybe a local organization would be more appreciative,” she explained. Then Sierra adopted her cat, Rascal, from Forgotten Cats. She was very impressed with the organization and decided to make them the recipient of her fundraising. Sierra created AutumnLeaf Fundraisers in 2008, and has been continuously raising money for Forgotten Cats. Today, at 19, she has raised more than $44,000 for the cat welfare group. Forgotten Cats focuses on reducing the unwanted cat population through spay/neuter programs. In addition to sterilizing cats, they vaccinate and provide medical treatment. Any cats that are considered adoptable are found homes, and the remaining cats are released back to their feral colonies. This no-kill organization has locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, and manages one of the largest trap, neuter and return programs nationally. They also assist other cat rescue organizations. “I really love them because they are the only organization in this area that spay or neuter feral cats,” Sierra said. “Forgotten Cats is unique in what they do.”

RyanWallick with Delaware Senator Chris Coons.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |


Sierra and her family occasionally foster kittens for the group, and she is especially happy when her friends adopt the kittens. “When that happens, I can go play with them,” she said with a laugh. Sierra sells her handcrafted items at the New Garden and the West Chester Growers Markets. AutumnLeaf Fundraisers also attends other events, such as the Woodside Creamery Fall Festival, Newark Community Day and the New Castle County Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park. Sierra is always looking for volunteers to help create items to sell. Recently, she met with a group of ladies called the Penn Ridge Sewing Group, who are excited to make handsewn items such as drawstring backpacks and cat beds to benefit Sierra’s favorite charity. On an ongoing basis, Sierra usually has 10 to 25 people helping her craft items. Her oldest and much-appreciated volunteer is 92-year-old Sophie, who knits catnip balls and small blankets. Sierra

Guaranteed Gu G uara ua rante rant ran an a ntte teed eed lowest llo owe ow o weesstt price w pri p pr rriice ce on on Kitchen Kitche Kit K Ki it itche ch heen and an nd d Bathroom Bat Bathr B Ba athro at a hrrro hro h oom Cabinetry Cab Cabine C ab a biinet ine inetry neettry n rry y and an a nd complete com cco om o mplete mple ple p lete te remodeled rrem re em mode ode od o deelled d ed d kitchens kitch ki k iitttch cch hens e and en an nd baths b bath a s on ath on comparable ccom om omp o mp mpara arable ble l products le prrodu p od ducts duc du ctts

Continued on Page 78





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RyanWallick at home with one of her cats.

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Forgotten Cats Continued from Page 77

would like to reach out to other seniors and involve them with AutumnLeaf Fundraisers. Jennifer explained, “It’s about helping someone feel productive. It’s nice to give that opportunity to the elderly, who sometimes feel like they don’t have anything to offer.” Sophie’s daughter, Margie, said her mother loves to go to AC Moore and pick out yarn for her next project. It gives Sophie a sense of purpose, and the cats benefit from her efforts. Sierra has been stockpiling donations of fabric and yarn so people who don’t have the resources to buy supplies can also participate. She would love to share the supplies with people willing to craft. Jennifer added, “It’s a good way to recycle and reuse yarn and other supplies that people are not utilizing.” Sierra can also provide patterns for items such as the popular double oven mitts. “If you want to follow a pattern, we can give you one, but I also don’t want to limit anyone’s creativity,” Sierra explained. Her personal motto is, “I want to change the world.” To do


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

that, she has not only volunteered more than 1,000 hours of service so far this year, but she has racked up more than 65,000 hours of service since she was 10 years old. Sierra’s efforts have positively impacted the lives of 40,0000 cats. Given her extraordinary efforts, it is not surprising that her work has attracted positive attention. She has won numerous awards, including two Jefferson Awards for Public Service (one national and one regional), and the Delaware Governors Youth Volunteer Service award. The Jefferson Awards Foundation recognizes people who are making positive changes in their community and the world. “When I was a finalist for the Delaware Jefferson Award, the two other finalists were college students who were doing great things,” Sierra said. “I didn’t really think I was going to win. They announced my name and I got up and gave an acceptance speech in front of a very big audience. It was really, really amazing.” In 2014, Sierra went to Washington, D.C., as a finalist for the national Jefferson Awards Lead360 program. “It was so inspiring to hear all about the amazing things other people

are doing,” she said. That year, Sierra’s fundraising efforts won her first place in the animal rights category. Her involvement with the Jefferson Awards Foundation has helped hone her skills. “I attend their leadership conferences and learn so much, such as how to give an elevator speech or how to demonstrate your credibility to a sponsor,” she said. Last year, Horizon Helps became a sponsor of Continued on Page 80

Courtesy Photo

RyanWallick frequently attends events to promote her fundraising foundation. | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Quality you can count on with a name you can trust.

Forgotten Cats Continued from Page 79

AutumnLeaf Fundraisers. At the New Castle County Ice Cream Festival, Sierra’s tent was located next to a Horizon Services tent. David Dworski noticed her tent was brimming with items for sale. He watched her interacting with shoppers and talking about her favorite charity. Dworski was particularly impressed that 100 percent of her sales go directly to Forgotten Cats. He told Sierra his company’s non-profit division, Horizon Helps, would like to sponsor her, saying, “You are an amazing teen doing amazing things.” Sierra has been thrilled with the sponsorship. “They have been incredibly supportive,” she said. Horizon Helps has helped Sierra by paying her entry fees for various festivals, and by covering the costs of her new brochures. In addition to her fundraising activities, Sierra finds time


3D Auto Body & Collision Centers 300 West Boot Road, West Chester, PA 19380

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Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Courtesy photo

It is not uncommon to find a few of RyanWallick’s friends or her parents at her event tables.

for other interests. She is a prolific and published writer. She’s had poems and stories published in Cicada Magazine and Scholastic Magazine, both highly regarded, national publications. Sierra also is a keen photographer. With her favorite Canon camera, she shoots photos and creates beautiful cards that she sells at events. Several of the photos have been accepted for publication, along with her poetry. This school year, Sierra will be adding yet another responsibility to her busy life. She has been named editor of Excelsior Magazine, a publication produced by Pennsylvania homeschooled students. “I’ve been on the staff of Excelsior for four years, and I have wanted to be the editor since I first heard of it,” she said. Sierra’s writing, photography and crafting also serve another purpose. Her passions provide a therapeutic outlet for a chronic health issue. She was diagnosed with Lyme disease four years ago, and this debilitating condition limits her energy. “She only has about one to four productive hours of energy a day,” Jennifer explained.

Speaking about her Lyme disease, Sierra said, “It really helps to get my feelings out on paper. I write a lot of poems – some are deep and dark.” Understandably, she gets frustrated because her energy level cannot keep up with her ideas. “Sierra is AutumnLeaf Fundraising. She doesn’t have a staff,” Jennifer explained. “There is so much she can’t do with the limitations she has right now.” “I’m still in high school, too, so I have a lot to do,” Sierra said. Both Sierra’s mother and her father, Kevin Wallick, help with the fundraising group, but it is still a big responsibility. Sierra’s past Lyme treatments have not been very successful. However, she is seeing a new specialist in Washington, D.C. She is hopeful the new therapy will help. “Lyme disease affects every part of my life,” she said. “When you are really tired, your mood plummets, and that affects everything.” She’s been forced to move more slowly through her curriculum, putting her a bit behind, but this year she will complete her senior year of high school. Continued on Page 82

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Forgotten Cats Continued from Page 81

“It’s good that I’m home schooled, so I can focus at my own pace,” she said. “Home schooling also allows me to incorporate my fundraising into my school work.” When Sierra can no longer focus on her academics, she uses the time to knit. “It’s important for her to have a mission, to be able to make a difference, even when she is struggling in other areas of her life,” Jennifer said. Last year, Sierra raised $1,000 for a Lyme Awareness Walk and participated in a yarn-bombing event in Newark, Del. Through the event, sponsored by a local knitting group called Yarnivores, 86 parking meters along Main Street were decked out in lime green knitted covers to bring attention to Lyme disease. Sierra enjoyed participating in the fun-filled day. One of Sierra’s goals is to see chapters of AutumnLeaf Fundraisers established in schools and youth groups across the country. She is also serious about reaching out to seniors citizens. “I have tons of ideas going forward,” she said. “There are so many ways to help out, and anyone can get involved.” Sierra’s wish list for the immediate future is to find someone with time and energy to help with administrative chores, such as answering emails, coordinating donation pickups, and managing the group’s Facebook page. With her limited energy, the time spent on these tasks could be put to better use. She is also always looking for helping hands, either groups or individuals, who sew or do other crafts. Moving forward, Sierra would like to take a gap year prior to college to dedicate all her time and energy to AutumnLeaf Fundraisers to see what she can accomplish. One of her goals is to start chapters of AutumnLeaf Fundraisers in schools and youth groups across the country to support local charities. This young changemaker is clear on her vision for the future. Her ultimate goal is to raise a million dollars for charity. “I call it becoming a ‘millionaire of the heart.’ I will always volunteer, give back, and use my ideas to improve and change the world. I want to do this for the rest of my life.” You can find Sierra RyanWallick and AutumnLeaf Fundraisers at the New Garden Growers Market every Saturday, and at the Woodside Creamery Fall Festival on Oct. 8. To learn more about the organization and their events check out the AutumnLeaf Fundraisers Facebook page.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Landenberg United Methodist Church



COMMUNITY YARD SALE SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2016 12:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. CHICKEN PRICE: $6.00/half Tickets sold at the door or pre-purchase your tickets by calling Landenberg Church: 610-274-8384 or Lydia Akerman: 610-274-8335 YARD SALE - Sell it yourself with one of our $15 tables or just stop by to browse the many items on sale. For more information call Charlotte Holck 610-274-8464 LOCATION OF CHURCH: at the intersection of Penn Green Road and Landenberg Road, across the street from the Landenberg Store. JUST LOOK FOR THE CHICKEN PIT, AND SMELL THE CHICKEN. YUM YUM

—————|Landenberg Q&A|—————


Kalia Reynolds, Ed.D. Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning, Avon Grove School District The Avon Grove School District will be introducing a full-day kindergarten program starting in 2017-2018. Landenberg Today interviewed Kalia Reynolds, Ed.D., the school district’s director of elementary teaching and learning, to find out some of the advantages that a full-day kindergarten program will offer to Avon Grove students. 84

Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Q: The Avon Grove School District will be introducing a full-day kindergarten program starting with the 2017-18 school year. How are the preparations for that going? A: We’re excited about FDK preparations for the 2017-2018 school year. Our action team, comprised of numerous staff members from different departments in our district, meets regularly to confirm project plans. Programming and scheduling are mostly complete. Currently, we’re working on facilities and finalizing a communications plan. With facilities, the focus is on securing the necessary permissions and permits to move forward with installing modulars at Penn London Elementary School to accommodate some of the older students, as we will need additional space for full-day kindergarten. Communication and planning are essential to the success of launching this program, so we’re in the process of scheduling information sessions for our community this fall. Q: What are some of the advantages of a full-day program over a half-day program? A: At two-and-a-half hours, our current half-day program is shorter than most area preschool programs. Time is the biggest advantage of a full-day program, as it will give our teachers adequate time to address the learning standards across multiple content areas. Research shows that students in a FDK program develop stronger foundational skills, especially in the areas of math, reading, and social competence. A full-day program expands the scope of 21st-century learning skills, such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. We can allow our teachers and students to slow down and make learning more meaningful, rather than trying to cram it all into a half day. We are in good company with the move to full-day kindergarten. Between 70 and 80 percent of kindergarteners statewide and nationwide attend full-day programs, and more than half of the school districts in Chester County will offer full-day programs by next year. Our district vision states, “All Avon Grove students are well prepared to create their own futures.” We believe that offering a full-day program is a major component of helping us to realize this vision. Q: What benefits would you expect to see for Avon Grove students as they move on to first grade after having a full-day kindergarten program? A: Research shows that students who come from a FDK program show increased levels of mastery of basic, essential skills. Students come to first grade prepared, and that reduces the time needed to review core concepts and skills. As a result, teachers are able to expose students to deeper learning opportunities. State research shows students who attended FDK did twice as well on their PSSA math tests in third grade than students who attended half-day programs. Q: What else do parents need to know about the change to a full-day program? A: Throughout the planning process for FDK, our focus has been on creating a program that is based on developmentally appropriate practices. Structured play, discovery, and inquiry-based learning are important for our kindergarten learners, and we will be sure that our program provides that. We expect that parents may have concerns such as, “Will the program be too intense for my child?” and “How do I know if my child is ready for a full-day program?” These kinds of questions are very reasonable and we will be addressing them. We believe our program will be flexible and provide the right mix of structure, age-appropriate play, and breaks for our kindergarteners. We are excited about getting them engaged Continued on Page 86 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Kalia Reynolds Continued from Page 85

in learning in deeper and more meaningful ways that we simply can’t do in a half-day program. Teachers will have more time to work individually with each student, and we can meet each learner at their level and work with them in ways that boost their individual learning style. Q: This is going to be a big change for the district, so it’s obviously going to be very important for parents to register their children for kindergarten as early as possible, isn’t it? A: Timely registration is essential for adequate planning for enrollment and transportation. We’ll begin the kindergarten registration process in late February. Q: Are there any information sessions coming up that parents should attend? A: Information sessions are being scheduled and will be posted to the Avon Grove website and other news sources such as the district newsletter, e-mail, and local child care and learning centers.


October 15 & 16, 2016 Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. • Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beautiful Setting and Unique Artisans Lunch available • Admission $5, free for members Wilmington, Delaware • • (302) 658-2400


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Q: Where else can parents turn for information about Avon Grove’s full-day kindergarten program? A: Our new district website is a great resource for parents. For example, parents can go to the “I Want To” section of our site to quickly access the page for FDK. In addition, information and updates will also be posted to Penn London Elementary School’s website. Q: Avon Grove has talked about implementing a full-day kindergarten program for many years, and the administrative team really came out in support of the initiative. You expect there to be real educational benefits for students, right? A: We wouldn’t be moving forward if we didn’t think this was the best educational decision for our students. We are very excited about the many ways in which we feel this will improve the education of our youngest learners. The Avon Grove School District’s website is —Steven Hoffman | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


—————|Landenberg Photo Essay|—————

Happy Landenberg Day! By Carla Lucas Correspondent August 6 was a hot and steamy day, but it didn’t stop those who love all things Landenberg from coming to Borderland Vineyard for the first Landenberg Day celebration in many years. There was a nice breeze blowing through Borderland for the 1,024 Landenbergers who braved the elements. While at Landenberg Day, they found there were old friends and neighbors to see, food trucks to experience, vendors to talk with, exhibits to view, music to enjoy, and Borderland’s wines to taste. It was a great day, and hopefully a start to a new tradition for all of Landenberg to enjoy. The event was organized to benefit the new Landenberg Trust, an organization that works to preserve Landenberg’s historic structures. Mark your calendars now for next year’s Landenberg Day – Aug. 5, 2017.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

It got there from Facebook Old-time Landenbergers remember when Mary, who used to own The Landenberg Store, organized a small community day by her store and along the White Clay Creek. You’d saunter on down on a fine summer Saturday, see some neighbors, hear a little music, maybe even learn something from a local organization or two. The Landenberg Methodist Church, right across the street, might even have a chicken barbecue going on. Fast-forward to 2016, when a few folks who belonged to the Facebook group Landenberg (You Can’t Get There from Here) got to thinking ... “Wouldn’t it be great to bring back Landenberg Day?” A few Facebook posts later, Joe Birmingham Jr., and Pam Eppinger, partners in Phoenix Press, took the lead. Quickly a committee was formed. Kurt Kalb, owner of Borderland Vineyards on Indiantown Road, invited them to have Landenberg Day at the vineyard. In a matter of weeks, those few posts turned into a full-blown community event. Even if you can’t get to Landenberg from here, Landenberg Day got there through Facebook.

Continued on Page 90 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Photo Essay Continued from Page 89

Landenberg Day Staff Joseph Birmingham: Organizer Pam Eppinger: Volunteer Organizer Vicki Birmingham: Logistics Coordinator Cheryl Kopec: Vendor Coordinator Joseph Birmingham Sr.: Event Photographer Marie McMillan: Kids Coordinator Volunteers included: Killiam Bagnatori, Christina Brooks, John Corbett, Elizabeth Garduno, Mauricio and Maureli Mejia, Mike Kopec, Lisa Leonzis, Abby Mulligan, Denise Trommelen, Mary DuPont, Steph Paisley, Lillian Ramos, Chelsea Lewis, Tim Roop, Tina Nichols, Karen Beattie, Kylie Niessen, Madison Panzram, Jenn Sheeran, Alicia Lyons, and Rene Bille.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

Continued on Page 92 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Photo Essay Continued from Page 91


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 | | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


—————|Landenberg History|—————

‘I am no hero’

Bill Fili was a flight engineer in World War II. In books and lectures, he has made his experiences a shared history, and his exhibit at the New Garden Flying Field is the latest in one man’s continuing document By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


Photo by Richard L. Gaw

Oxford resident Bill Fili, a World War II engineer and flight gunner, has dedicated many years to telling audiences about his war experiences.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

n the Oxford home he shares with his son, Bill Fili speaks about his experiences as a flight engineer in World War II with the clarity of a lecturer. His storytelling is lacquered with perfect pitch and pauses, in a voice that does not want to accept that it is now 92 years old. He has told his story often -- at air shows, at libraries and schools, and in three books dedicated to his experiences as a war veteran and a prisoner of war in Romania in 1944. He knows the numbers: The Greatest Generation is now a vastly dwindling one. Of the 16.1 million World War II veterans, fewer than 1.5 million are still alive, and they are dying at a rate of more than 600 a day. Therefore, every one of his sentences sticks with a particular kind of fervency. As Fili spins the tale of what happened to him nearly eight decades ago, slowly, word by word, the white-haired man sitting before the visitor is no longer there. He has been replaced by the 18-year-old Bill Fili from Philadelphia, and the kid from Fishtown takes over from where the old man left off, into a black-and-white film reel of his life. William J. Fili was born on Dec. 17, 1923, to a family of seven siblings whose father owned a business that installed heating systems. He was also an alcoholic, and proceeded to drink his business into oblivion, denying his eight children many of the basic necessities needed to survive the Great Depression. Dinner was frequently a sliced tomato sandwich and a glass of ice water, with ice coming from what the children stole off of a passing ice wagon. A good day was finding a piece of cardboard that could fit into his shoes and prevent his feet from getting wet. “It all began to hit me in my first year in high school, because that’s when I decided I couldn’t take it anymore,” he said. “During recess in my freshman year at

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

Fili and New Garden Flying Field general manager Jon Martin.

Roman Catholic High School, I would go off into a corner and keep to myself, because I didn’t have anything to take for lunch.” On the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Fili awoke to find everyone in the family gathered around the radio. His brother turned to him and said, “The Japs just bombed Pearl Harbor!” A few days later, Fili walked down to his local recruiting station and enlisted in the United States military. His apprenticeship to be a steam-fitter would have to wait. He was 17 years old. In the spring of 1943, the recruiting station contacted him, telling Fili that they wanted him to become an airplane pilot. “I barely knew what an airplane looked like, but I saw a movie called ‘Air Force’ with John Garfield once, and he was a mechanic on a B-17, and I told them that I want to do what John Garfield did in that movie,” he said. “I told them to train me to be a mechanic.” On Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1943, he was told to report to Independence Hall, where he was sworn in as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps. He turned to his mother and other members of his family, said goodbye, and boarded a bus to Fort Mead, Md., where he would

train to be a top turret gunner and engineer. Eventually, he arrived in Tunisia, and then to southern Italy, as a member of the 15 AF 450th Bomb Group. There, he participated in more than 34 missions aboard a B-24 Liberator plane, intended to bomb Nazi petroleum centers throughout Germany and Romania. World War II historians have pointed to the air battles over Nazi-occupied Europe as one of the most effective strategies of dismantling Hitler’s artillery, but it was one that was met with tremendous retaliation by Nazi fighter planes. From his gunner turret, Fili and his colleagues fought the war in the skies, from nearly four miles off the ground. The last ten missions were on a plane named Destiny Deb. On Aug. 24, 1944, his third mission over the Ploesti oil refineries in Romania, Fili boarded the lead plane of the mission, just to the right of the general’s wing. Behind Destiny Deb, there were 300 other bomber planes prepared for the same mission. “Up there in the sky, it’s as smooth as can be,” Fili said. “You’re gliding on ice, and we used to fly in a very tight formation. A rear gunner said he could see small white specks out on the horizon behind us. Suddenly, I saw the specks in Continued on Page 96 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Bill Fili Continued from Page 95

front of us. It looked like the entire German Air Force, and they fired directly at us, at eye level. I could see and feel the bullets fly right past me, and I did everything but freeze on my guns. I knew that some of my bullets went into them, but they kept right on coming.” Six tons of bombs then dropped from Destiny Deb onto the intended target. Fili looked up. Gas began to pour out of the plane like a waterfall. A piece of a wing had fallen. The number two engine was severely damaged. Destiny Deb was heading rapidly to the ground. A shell hit Fili’s turret and knocked him out. When he came to, he saw that the plane’s navigator was repeatedly slapping him in the face, to make sure that he was conscious. He then pulled Fili out of the turret, and put a parachute on him. “We’ve gotta bail out,” the navigator told Fili. Eventually, Fili was over the skies of Romania, cascading down. He turned to face the sky above one last time, and saw Destiny Deb going down in flames in the distance. “I landed on the side of a hill, in an orchard,” he said. “I was a bloody mess from the shell that hit my turret. We were told that if we ever landed in Romania, to tell them that you’re an American. If they think you’re a Russian, they will kill you.”

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

His display at the New Garden Flying Field also features several books and material on World War II, some written by Fili.


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

In the field, he was approached by a Romania woman, who walked past Fili and began to pound on a man’s chest who stood behind Fili. He turned around and saw that the man was holding an axe, about to plant it in Fili’s skull. After the woman convinced the man to retreat, she began to clean the blood from Fili’s face. Romanian soldiers then began to capture the American troops one by one in the field, and took them to a village jail. There, Fili was reunited with the man who had attempted to kill him. Through an interpreter, the man said that a week before, there was a fierce air battle over the village. Shrapnel and parts of planes had fallen all over the village. Some of it had fallen on his two children, killing them instantly. “I didn’t have the courage to tell him that Continued on Page 98

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

A scale model of Fili’s B-24 is on display at the New Garden Flying Field’s new Aviation Center. | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Bill Fili Continued from Page 97

Admission is free... the experience is priceless

Fall Calendar of Events Saturday • September 24 • 2pm Stateline Woods Preserve “All Things Being (almost) Equal: The Autumnal Equinox” Outdoor Celebration Facilitated by Christine Campbell

Sunday • September 25 • 10am Anson B. Nixon Park Live Performance by El Mariachi Flores at La Comunidad Hispana’s First Annual Let’s Choose Health Run & Family Walk

Sunday • October 2 • 2pm Kennett Friends Meeting Wilmington Drama League Children’s Theater Pillow Play, The Apple

Sunday • October 23 • 2pm London Grove Friends Meeting Fall Frolic Story Time & Sing-Along With Bill Wood Storyteller and Guenevere Finley

Saturday • November 5 • 6pm International Cultural Center, Lincoln University “A Hip Hop World Order: Critical Listening, Visual Literacy & Verbal Prowess in the 21st Century” Lecture by Dr. James Peterson

Saturday • November 19 • 2pm Sykes Theater, West Chester University Pack Up Your Sorrows – The Documentary Featuring Meg Hutchinson

Saturday • December 10 • 7pm Patton Middle School Auditorium Celtic Christmas Concert featuring Seasons Family Band Plus Dancers, Drummers and Pipers


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

I was on that mission, one so fierce that I ran out of ammunition,” he said. “I didn’t want to tell him, because maybe, I thought, it was my bullets that killed his two children. I later found out that the woman was his wife, and the mother of those children. “I thought that she had saved my life, and maybe I killed their children … and I have never forgotten that.” Fili spent the next five months as a prisoner of war in a Romanian camp, one of 1,100 American servicemen. Although they suffered no atrocities, the prisoners were covered with lice, and regularly interrogated by Romanian officers intent on acquiring information about upcoming American missions in Romania. One ordered Fili to fill out a form, which he did, providing only his name, rank and serial number. He ordered Fili again to fill out the form. Fili refused. The officer then held a gun to Fili’s head. “I can’t do it, and you know I can’t do it!” Fili told the officer. The officer slowly pulled the gun away. In January 1945, Fili and his fellow POWs were rescued by American pilots who flew B-17s to Bucharest, Romania at the Popesti Airdrome, 400 miles behind the German battle lines, and transported the POWs – without a single casualty – to Italy. After the war, Fili remained in the Air Force Reserves, and was recalled during the Korean Conflict as a flight engineer on a Boeing C-97 Stratocruiser. He then founded a manufacturing business and operated it for more than a quarter of a century, before retiring with his wife Lillian, who died last year. Together, they had two children, Bill, Jr., who lives with his father, and Carolyn, who lives in Cochranville. On May 8, 1945, the Allied Forces of World War II accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. In the 71 years that have followed, the voices of those who served in the United States military have remained solemn and quiet. They chose to leave their part in history to the historians, authors and filmmakers to tell it for them and, consequently, generations of families have grown up with only a faint knowledge that the older man at reunions and Thanksgiving dinner tables served nobly somewhere and some time, thousands of miles away. The story, sadly, was never shared, but stored in the framed collage of medals that were hung almost apologetically in a back room or tucked in a closet. For the last several decades, Fili has gone against that mighty grain. He lectures frequently. He regularly writes commentary about the need to honor veterans, and has donated his papers and research about the war to the Kennett Library. A representative from the library recently called Fili and invited him to speak there.

There is a large-scale model of the Destiny Deb, as well as a scale model of the B-51 Mustang that escorted the B-24, in the media and lecture room at the New Garden Flying Field’s new Aviation Center. Fili built both out of balsa wood and glue, and he used to bring them out for display at air shows at the Flying Field. “Because Mr. Fili has been a member of the EAA Chapter 240 for years, I’ve known him a long time,” said Flying Field general manager Jon Martin. “He was aware that we were planning to build the Aviation Center, and he asked me, ‘What do you think about my B-24 model being displayed there?’” The idea of establishing a permanent home for the model was a

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

Fili is the author of several books about his war experiences.

Continued on Page 100 | Fall/Winter 2016 | Landenberg Today


Bill Fili Continued from Page 99

perfect one, Martin thought, because it fit tightly with the plans -- and purpose -- of the facility. “I told him about our plans for the Aviation Center, and how we were going to have an educational room for the Future Aviators Camp that would also serve as a location for lectures on aviation,” Martin said. The model was soon joined by an escort model of a B-51 Mustang, a mounted and framed display of Fili’s fighter uniform, as well as plaques, Fili’s books and paintings and DVDs related to World War II history. “It really comes down to one word, and it’s ‘Wow,’” Martin said. “Not only is it a big model and an impressive display, but the history behind the individual who built that model is also impressive. There’s so many untold stories out there that we haven’t heard of, but to be able to put something like that on display that’s going to remain there has really been an emotional experience for him.” At the end of Fili’s lectures, he asks those in attendance if they understand the concepts of freedom. “The people here in this country do not realize what that war was about,” he said. “I try to tell them that. I tell them


Landenberg Today | Fall/Winter 2016 |

that they should appreciate what they have. I tell them that the people in other countries do not have the degree of freedom that we have.” Fili is reminded of the fact that he was part of a 16-millionperson contingent of men and women – grunts, mostly, teenagers from small towns and big cities like him – who, through their dedication and courage, saved the world. He shakes his head back and forth, then stares at the floor. “I am no hero,” he said. There is a black-and-white photograph that was taken of Fili in 1945. In it, he is seconds away from boarding the B-17 rescue plane that will soon take him and 1,100 American soldiers to freedom. He waves toward the camera, and offers a reassuring smile, as if to say, “I am an American. That’s enough to know that everything is going to be OK, and that I am free.” Fili is the author of three books about World War II: “Of Lice and Men” (1973); “Passage to Valhalla” (1991); and “Passage to Valhalla II” (2009). To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@

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Landenberg Today Fall/Winter 2016  

Landenberg Today Fall/Winter 2016