Stephanie Tashner, the current board president, has been a member of WHPS for over 25 years. Prior to becoming president, she served in many other capacities including secretary and newsletter editor. Steph was born and raised in Whitehall and is a graduate of Whitehall High School. Years ago, Steph was researching her hometown of Stiles and through this endeavor she was asked if she would like to become a member. She said yes and has been a valued asset to the organization ever since. Steph enjoys working at the various events and fundraisers held each year: basket bingo, speakers, annual flea market, open houses, annual clean up, etc., She is always available to help. Steph has many visions for the future of WHPS but her main two are getting the archives organized at the Grim House and redesigning the museum on the second floor of the Grist Mill where she would like to acquire more Whitehall memorabilia. Steph has been very instrumental in networking the historical society through Passport To History and helping to initiate The Heritage Keepers – an organization of local historic organizations who meet periodically to advance local history. Steph currently lives in Nazareth and works at Martin Guitar, but her heart is at home in Whitehall.
Joe Wilfinger, the current WHPS Vice President, is instantly recognizable to many in the Lehigh Valley. He’s the tall guy with the Indian Turtle necklace. He also has signage on his personal car promoting WHPS. Joe is always representing the historical society. He attends most of the Whitehall Township committee and board meetings where he is not afraid to let his voice be heard. Joe has always been a lover of history and is proud to share his family history with all. He first became involved with WHPS about 16 years ago when a friend and WHPS member suggested that he join, Joe did and has been active in all events and activities ever since. Joe’s favorite role with the historical society is wearing authentic period clothing to give tours of the Grist Mill. On weekends when there are open houses, you can see Joe standing in front of the Mill waving to people to “come on in”. Joe’s fondest memories of his tenure with WHPS is interacting with the people who come to visit. Joe’s vision for the future of the historical society is to have more people utilize and visit the grounds and the buildings. He would love to see more local schools take advantage of all WHPS has to offer. Joe is also involved in many other volunteer opportunities throughout the Valley. He is retired from Bethlehem Steel and is also a certified auctioneer.
For the past 10 years plus, Ethel Gery has served as the secretary of WHPS. Ethel had been a member for years when she got a call that there was a need for a new secretary. Her interest in history and her fondness for WHPS convinced her to accept. Ethel enjoys organizing and helping at the various events WHPS offers every year. Ethel feels the biggest success she has witnessed is the restoration of the Grim House. It needed a lot of work: fixing structural problems, making the interior historically accurate and maintaining outside grounds. It is now a property to be proud of. Ethel’s biggest vision is to make the properties handicapped accessible, a project that has been in the works for a few years awaiting available grants. She says WHPS keeps her busy because there is always something that needs to be done. Ethel also works at her family business, Kay Builders where she is in charge of accounting.
Allen Handwerk is detailed and organized and a constant promotor of WHPS. When Allen meets new people one of the first questions he asks is “would you like to become a member”. He and his wife Phyllis have been active with WHPS for many years and they enjoy the interesting community programs offered by WHPS. When he retired from Air Products in 2001, Alan volunteered to become the board treasurer. (he is also the treasurer for another local organization – The Whitehall Hunger Initiative) Allen has witnessed much progress over the past 20 years from the hugely successful 200th anniversary celebration to the tremendous progress made on restoring the Grim House. Allen’s vision for the future of WHPS is getting the archives organized, especially the information and materials Whitehall specific. He also hopes more people become members. Allen enjoys cooking and working in his yard and garden.
Louise Bolger has been active with the Whitehall Historical Preservation Society for over 25 years both as a general member and a board member. Louise has a long family history in Whitehall. Her great grandfather had a bar “The George Washington Hotel” in Darktown. Although no longer a business, the structure is still there. Louise first became involved when she was asked by a friend if she would temporarily serve as board secretary. She accepted and has been an active member ever since. Louise’s best memories of WHPS are the speakers who present at the Mill. She loves learning new things and she finds the presentations interesting and informative. Her fondest memory is the anniversary celebration. It was fun, organized, well attended and it brought the community together. It was a lot of work but worth it. Louise’s vision for WHPS is to continue finding speakers that will introduce the community to the Grim House and the Grist Mill. Now retired, Louise worked as an administrative assistant at her family business, Mary Macintosh for over 45 years.
Alice and her family have lived in Whitehall/West Catty for 35 years. The MacArthur Road 75 celebration in 2017 is what got her involved with the WHPS. Alice was the chairperson of the yearlong event and through conversations with WHPS board members, Alice realized she wanted to become an active member. Alice has always had a love of history. She is a teacher and her original certification was in Social Studies. Alice has volunteered for decades. She was on the parent advisory board for Lehigh Valley Child Care, was active in school PTA’s and she and her sons spent many years performing in plays put on by MUNOPCO. Alice was also a MUNOPCO board member for many years. Alice’s vision for WHPS is to get the archives organized and to attract new, younger members. Alice teaches ESL at Northern Lehigh School District but plans on retiring in the near future. She is positive she will be actively involved with WHPS for many years helping to keep the history of Whitehall alive. WHPS is one big family, everyone cares about and supports each other and all work well together to meet the goals of WHPS.
Dedication is the best word to describe Patricia “Pat” Matthews. A retired home economics teacher, Pat has been an active member of WHPS for over 30 years and has served in various board positions. Currently, the corresponding secretary, she is known for the hand rafted cards and notes she sends. Her “career” with WHPS began at the suggestion of her husband Dick (who prior to his death was also active with WHPS as well as a history buff and author). Whenever volunteers are needed for an activity or project, Pat is one of the first to step up. She participates in everything WHPS does from making gift baskets for the yearly bingo fundraising, to sewing authentic period clothing, to cleaning and organizing at both the Gist Mill and the Grim House. Pat’s fondest memory of WHPS was the 200th anniversary celebration. Hundreds of people participated, there was fun, food and community. Pat’s biggest wish for WHPS is that the archives get organized and computerized. By the way, Pat is also an excellent baker who loves to share her desserts with others. She has also volunteered at LVHN for over thirty years.
Known for her delicious chocolate mint brownies, (which she graciously brings to almost every speaker presentation), Terri Monroe decided to become a member of WHPS when she saw how much her husband Jim enjoyed being a member. (Jim was a board member for many years prior to his passing). After a few years as a general member, Terri decided to become a board member when asked. Currently in charge of our gift store, Terri manages the items sold, keeps track of inventory and is always looking for new and interesting items to add to our selection. With over 10 years of volunteer service, she enjoys being on the board. She says the general membership and the other board members are great people to work with because everyone pitches in to help, each with unique and needed skills. Terri looks forward to the annual basket bingo fund raiser because it is always so much fun. She is very proud of the restorations to the Grim House and the progress made in restoring it over the past few years. As previously said, while she enjoys the current membership, Terri hopes that younger people join and become involved with WHPS. Terri works as a cook at Sodexo. Terri is also an avid bird watcher.
Sharon Solderitch is positive and constantly smiling. She has been involved with WHPS for about five years. Her sister, who is the President of WHPS, had so much enthusiasm for the organization that Sharon was convinced to join. She is glad she did, she enjoys maintaining the history of Whitehall and she like working with the other board members. Sharon is the organizer for the annual flea markets, a major fundraiser for WHPS. Sharon says she loves to help prepare for the flea markets, organizing the items for sale and work the actual day of the sale. Seeing so many people, both vendors and customers, out for a fun afternoon looking for good deals makes her feel happy. Sharon also enjoys helping to maintain the outside grounds of the property, making sure that everything looks good for people driving by, she wants curb appeal. Sharon’s vision for WHPS is to complete the various projects in progress and to get the interior of the buildings to be as historically accurate as possible. Sharon currently works for B B & T.
For Sandra Todd, who is in charge of membership, WHPS is a family affair. Her son-in-law was a member and her daughter is also on the board. Before she became involved, Sandy said when she drove by the properties she wondered about them; curious about their history. Initially she was a general member and not on the board but when the opportunity to take over membership was presented to her she readily accepted, she enjoys this role and is glad she said yes. Sandy very much enjoys the speaker presentations at the Mill, they are varied, interesting and she always walks away having learned something new. One of the biggest successes she has seen is the cleanup and improvements to the buildings. When you personally see the before and after, it is very impressive and rewarding, especially the structural work. Since structural work is almost invisible, people with knowledge can see what has accomplished but most people are never aware of what was done or why it was done. It is gratifying to get this important and needed work done. Sandy’s vision for the future of WHPS is to continue to continue to make history available to the Lehigh Valley. Now retired, Sandy worked at a hospital as a medical technologist.
Dave Seier, who has always had an interest in history, joined WHPS in 2019. He just happened to run into board president Stephanie Tashner and through their conversation it was mentioned that there was an available board seat. Dave attended a few meetings as a guest to get a feel for what WHPS was about and he realized he wanted to become part of the organization. Dave’s vision for WHPS is to energize current members and the community to explore history. He would love to see caravans and/or bus trips to historic places within a few hours driving distance of the Valley. Dave is looking forward to helping with the many events and activities offered by WHPS every year. Dave is a step- father and grandfather. He currently works as a bookkeeper for Waitz Corp. in Allentown.