Award-winning author Mark Bowden seeks seat on Kennett School Board

Mark Bowden

WEST CHESTER: Bayard Rustin pardoned

The civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, namesake of one of West Chester's high schools, was in the news this week when he received a posthumous pardon from California governor Gavin Newsom.

In 1953 Rustin, an African-American who was born in West Chester, was convicted in California for having sex with men, which was illegal in the state until the 1970s. He served 50 days in jail and had to register as a sex offender. He went on to work closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the civil rights movement and helped to organize the historic "March on Washington."

Rustin died in 1987 at age 75. He received a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2013.

Naming the school after Rustin back in 2003 was not without controversy; three of the nine school board members voted against adopting the name. Objections were that he would not be a good role model for students because as a Quaker and a pacifist he refused to participate in World War II (he served time in prison instead), he was gay, and he briefly belonged to the Young Communist League.

The high school's website has a video about his life.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Township website on the horizon

At their February meeting, the West Marlborough supervisors announced that they met with Cynthia Walton-Bongers, a professor at Penn State Great Valley, who has volunteered to set up the township's new website. She will also serve as the webmaster, posting agendas and meeting dates. She told the supervisors that as part of a Penn State program for entrepreneurs, there will be no charge to the township. Bill Wylie said the website should be up and running soon.

Cindy, the daughter of township secretary-treasurer Shirley Walton, teaches entrepreneurship, economics, organizational behavior, and strategic management at Penn State Great Valley. She has a bachelor's degree in chemistry, a Ph.D. in chemistry, and an MBA with a concentration in healthcare and biotechnology.

NEW BOLTON: Grant to help vet students

On Jan. 31 New Bolton Center received $14,285 from the Thoroughbred Education and Research Foundation for the University of Pennsylvania Scholarship, which provides financial assistance and mentorship to veterinary students.

Herb and Ellen Moelis founded the Thoroughbred Education and Research Foundation in 2013. Current board members include the two of them as well as Kathleen Anderson, DVM, James Orsini, DVM, Margaret Duprey, Gretchen and Roy Jackson, Wendy Moon, Anita Motion, Toni Orsini, Scott Palmer, Josh Pons, and Lucy Zungailia.

HOSPITALS: A starring role

I receive a weekly e-mail compilation of medical news, and the most recent edition listed by state the hospitals that received a top (five-star) ranking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this year. Among the 407 five-star hospitals were Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Hospital, and Paoli Hospital. No hospitals in Delaware were on the five-star list.

The federal agency ranks more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide based on seven factors: mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care, and efficient use of medical imaging.

POP CULTURE: No longer a coveted demographic

Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday evening left me feeling utterly removed from popular culture.

I didn't understand most of the ads. They referred to things, brand names and people I don't know, which left me disoriented -- who is Jonah Hill? Is he a musician? A character on a TV show? Or just a random name?

In fact, it was only when I read about the ads in the newspaper the next day that I learned some of them, like the self-parking car one, were chock-full of "celebrities." You could have fooled me.

One ad I did appreciate was sponsored by an insurance company and illustrated the four types of love -- as outlined by the ancient Greeks. Stands to reason that I would understand it.

I had heard of the half-time performers, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, and even recognized some of their songs, but only because I'd heard them in aerobics classes at the Y over the years. I had no clue who the rapper who interrupted them was, nor why he was there. Just watching the frenetic dancing made my hamstrings hurt.

It's obvious Dearest Partner and I am no longer in the demographic advertisers are targeting. We've been demoted to invitations to knee and hip pain seminars and AARP membership solicitations.

The Young Relative rolls his eyes at my ignorance (as I would have at his age), but I've reached the point in life where I'm 100% OK not keeping up with pop culture. Unionville is way more interesting, anyway.

KING RANCH: A repeat bus tour

Last summer's bus tour of the former King Ranch was so popular that the Chester County Planning Commission is sponsoring another one, on Thursday, Aug. 20. Organizer Kathleen Hood, who attended the February West Marlborough Township meeting, said there was a waiting list of 600 people for last year's tour. She said she has spent the past several years interviewing former cowboys at the ranch and hopes to have a book ready for sale at the tour, with proceeds going to the Brandywine Conservancy.

Reservations for the free bus tour will open in March on the Eventbrite website.

WALL OF HONOR: Nominations are open

One of the goals of this column is to celebrate people who don't usually make the news, and here's your chance to do so too. Nominations are open for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District's Wall of Honor. Nominees must be district alumni. The submission deadline is March 8. You can complete the online nomination form at https://forms.gle/Fq2G4Cuq3oSTdSf89 or you can print out a hard-copy form from https://resources.finalsite.net/…/thhmwpjkvgshde9atgfd/WOHN…

and mail it to Wall of Honor, Unionville High School, 750 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

If you don't have internet access or aren't comfortable working online, drop me a line at P.O. Box 293, Unionville, PA 19375 and I'll mail you a form.

BOWDEN: Lecture about new crime book

A few weeks ago I wrote an item about an upcoming Hadley Fund talk by Kennett Square author Mark Bowden about his new book, "The Last Stone." The book sounded intriguing, so I borrowed it from the library. It's a cliché to say "I couldn't put it down" -- but I really couldn't. I finished the 340-page book in three sittings.

Most of the nonfiction book consists of interviews between investigators and Lloyd Lee Welch, whom the police suspect of kidnapping sisters Katherine and Sheila Lyon, ages 10 and 12, from a shopping mall in Wheaton, Maryland, in 1975, and murdering them. Their bodies were never recovered. In 2013 Montgomery County, Maryland, detectives finally got a break in the cold case and were able to home in on Welch, an early suspect in the case, who was serving a prison sentence in Delaware for child sexual abuse.

The tactics of the investigators are fascinating as they continue to talk to Welch over a period of months. He is unapologetic about changing his story whenever presented with a piece of evidence he can't explain away.

Welch finally ended up pleading guilty to killing the girls and was sentenced to serve an additional prison term in Virginia for the murders after he finishes serving his Delaware sentence in 2026.

Some critics have complained that the interviews are repetitive and the author should have just summarized some of them, but I disagree: my attention never wandered. I also enjoyed his accurate recreation of the 1970s milieu. I should add that some parts of the book, as you might imagine, require a strong stomach due to violence, perversion, and utter creepiness.

Mark Bowden will discuss the book at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, at Kennett Friends Meeting, 125 W. Sickle St., Kennett Square.

OXFORD: An under the sea fundraiser

A Y friend who helped to organize SILO's annual "Snow Ball" fundraising gala on Jan. 25 said she's still recovering from the hugely successful but labor-intensive bash. More than five hundred people gathered in a Herr's warehouse decorated in an undersea theme -- sea-green table coverings, blue lighting, giant glowing jellyfish hanging from the ceiling, random tentacles wrapped around the columns, and a scallop shell as a backdrop for photographs.

My friend said they're still busy paying bills and crunching numbers to get a final tally on how much money they raised.

SILO is a not-for-profit social services group headquartered in Oxford. The acronym stands for Serve, Inspire and Love Others; they describe themselves as a "community organization providing monthly meals, home visits, transportation, work projects, homeless care and prevention, a path to housing and employment … and random acts of kindness."

Write to Tilda at uvilleblogger@gmail.com. Thanks!
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