Remembering those who have made significant contributions to the Bergen County Historical Society.
Up until shortly before he passed away, Dave chaired the popular American Revolutionary War Roundtable, a monthly dinner-history lecture program that meets in Westwood. He was active in the Roundtable for 50 years and was able to find interesting speakers month after month. He was a member of the West Point Chapter of the Company of Military Historians and a BCHS Trustee Emeritus.
Through the 1980s and 90s, he worked on restoring some of the BCHS Blue Markers that are located throughout the county. The BCHS marker near the corner of Soldier Hill Rd and Kinderkamack in Oradell commemorates the September 1780 Steenrapie Encampment. Dave liked to maintain a French and an American flag at this location, honoring Lafayette who had his headquarters nearby in 1780.
Dave is remembered as “A Great man”, “a true gentleman in every way”, “a lovely gentleman”, “A true gentleman and tireless promoter of history”, “Dave was indeed a gentleman and certainly kind hearted, He did much to keep the round table going, as well as promote the BCHS. I will miss him very much.” “He was a truly kind person, generous person and will be missed.”
Dave died March 22, 2017, 88 years old. Retired since 1996 from Medical Economics Co., then located in Montvale, NJ, he had worked as a writer and senior editor for several magazines circulated to physicians and to data-processing managers.
Whieldon served for 18 years as an adult Boy Scout leader, including a stint as Scoutmaster of Troop 305,Fort Lee, NJ, and he was a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award and the Order of the Arrow’s Vigil Honor.
He was active in three professional societies and was a Life Member of Mensa. An avid cyclist, he pedaled more than 50,000 miles in recent years. Whieldon donated more than 80 pints of blood.
During the Korean War, he was commissioned as a U.S. Air Force officer and later became a radar operator-navigator-bombardier in B-29 bombers. He was awarded the Air Medal for flying combat missions from Okinawa to North Korea with the 19th Bomb Wing. On his return to the U.S., he was assigned to intelligence duties in a B-36 bomber wing based in El Paso, Texas.
A native of Greenville, Pa., he graduated from Penn High School in that town, later earning a baccalaureate degree from Grove City College, Grove City, PA, and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. His father, Harold Dodds Whieldon, operated a hardware store in Greenville for more than 30 years.Divorced since 1992, Whieldon is survived by a brother, Thomas W. Whieldon, and sister- in-law, Roseann, of Cedar Park, Tex., and by two nephews: Thomas Whieldon, Jr., and John Whieldon, and their families.
Kevin W. Wright
Kevin was a passionate historian, lecturer and author, championing the history of NJ, particularly Bergen and Sussex Counties. His 30 years of writing included Hudson’s encounter with the New World inhabitants, the Morris Canal, the iron industry, histories of Newton, NJ, Bergen County history, artifacts, interpretive, marketing and tourism issues, numerous articles and presentations and planning and visioning documents. He retired in 2008 as a Regional Historic Preservation Specialist for the NJ Park Service in the DEP.
Wright's leadership at Historic New Bridge Landing transformed the site into a heritage destination, returning the historical name "New Bridge" to the site, writing multiple planning documents including the HNBL Master Plan and the HNBL Interpretive Plan. As volunteer president of the Bergen County Historical Society, he began plans for a new museum building at Historic New Bridge Landing (which is in the final planning stages!) By creating authentic event programming, he set BCHS on firm financial ground with increased membership. He pushed for the inclusion of Fort Lee and New Bridge into the Crossroads of the American organization.
Wright visioned and named the Spirit of the Jerseys, a DEP state-wide NJ parks event. With attention to detail, he found two talented seamstresses to sew all by hand two Hopkinson Flags for display in 2012. In 1985, when researching in the state archives he found the boundary dispute between NY & NJ in time for the Statue of Liberty’s 100 year birthday and gained world-wide attention to a positive image for New Jersey. He also served as president of the Sussex County Historical Society.
Historic Preservation Specialist John Mills was observed “Kevin was a great researcher and constant promoter and defender of New Jersey’s heritage and New Jersey historic sites. As he was usually at the forefront he also took the animosity from those who would demolish our history. Historic sites on the whole are better off due to his dedication. He was a witty, humorous, and just plain nice guy.”
Kevin didn’t think or want every building to be saved but he did think that historic sites gave people a sense of place and should be valued in our landscape. Kevin passed away October 13, 2016. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Deborah Powell, and their three children.
Books by Kevin W. Wright:
Posthumously, Deborah Powell, published a book he was working on when he passed, The Bridge That Saved a Nation, Bergen County, New Bridge and the Hackensack Valley, Fonthill Media, available at online book retailers.
1609: A Country That Was Never Lost - The 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson’s Visit with North Americans of the Middle Atlantic Coast
A History of the Andover Ironworks: Come Penny, Go Pound
The Morris Canal and the Age of Ingenuity: Climbing Mountains to Solve America’s First Energy Crisis
Around the Green, Newton, New Jersey
High Point of the Blue Mountains, 1990. Co-wrote 54- page book on the environmental and cultural history of High Point State Park with Ron Dupont.
Newton Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, Successfully prepared 1990 nomination of Newton Historic Town Plot to the NJ and National Registers of Historic Places, encompassing sixty-six buildings, sites and objects.
Tree of Life: Selections from Bergen County Folk Art, 1983. Researched and wrote three scholarly articles on chip-carved spoon boards, Hackensack pottery, and local weaving for this 47-page exhibit catalogue (which won two awards for excellence). The Bergen Dutch Folk Art Exhibit was first mounted at New Bridge Landing in June 1983 and at the State Museum in Trenton between November 3, 1984 and January 3, 1985.
History of the Hackensack Meadowlands. In 1989, he researched and prepared layout for large five-panel exhibit on natural and cultural history for the Hackensack Meadowlands Environment Center, DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst, New Jersey. This was the first time, in recent memory, people understood the historical beauty of the area. The research document was the basis for numerous books to follow by other authors.