Bucks County Herald

Charles Meredith:

Retirements make their mark

Dear Friends,

Good morning. Two very familiar faces have retired from the Bucks County scene. The first, after 28 years on the bench, Senior Judge John Rufe retired at 78.

At one point, there were three Rufes serving in the Bucks judiciary: John Rufe, his older brother William H. Rufe III (known as Hart) and John Rufe’s wife, Cynthia, now a federal judge. Both brothers grew up in Sellersville. The Rufes have been well known in county Democratic circles.

Hart Rufe and I served our political parties in competing ways. In the early 1960s, Hart was an assistant county chairman for the Bucks Democratic Committee while I served in a similar capacity for the Republicans. Hart and I grew to be strong friends in spite of it all.

John Rufe has lived with Parkinson’s disease for 24 years but it never held him back. He became a county judge in 1989, and served the last eight years as a senior judge. The judiciary will miss him, I have no doubt.

Meanwhile, Lisa Tremper Hanover surprised many when she announced her retirement last fall as CEO of the Michener Art Museum as of Jan. 1. In just five years, the lively leader of the Michener grew its membership, its collections and its stature in the art world.

Barbara Donnelly Bentivoglio, a member of the Michener board of trustees and now interim director, praised Hanover, saying that she increased the visibility and credibility of the Michener while growing relationships with other community centers like the Mercer Museum (just across the street), Pearl S. Buck International in nearby Hilltown Township, the County Theater, Bucks Beautiful, the Heritage Conservancy and the Bucks County Playhouse.

Later in the year, the Michener will unveil a plaque on its east wall. When Lisa heard the story of how the Grim and Meredith families were joined at the former Bucks County Prison, she knew there was a story to tell.

In 1914, my grandfather (Charles Meredith Sr.) was the county sheriff. Friend Larry Grim’s great uncle, Webster Grim, was the county public defender whom the court had appointed to defend James Linzi, an accused murderer.

In the early 20th century, capital punishment was administered in the 67 county jails across Pennsylvania. Grandfather Meredith’s duty was to execute the court’s order … and the convicted man. So there was Grandfather Meredith, a Quaker opposed to capitol punishment, sharing the “stage” with Larry’s great uncle Webster Grim, the defense lawyer.

Lisa Hanover had that story engraved on a plaque that hangs on the former prison’s outer wall. She was great fun as she organized and completed this project.

We’ll miss her bright smile and leadership.

A few weeks ago, I heard Pastor Dave Kratz give a pep talk about a proposed skate park in Quakertown. The Quakertown Rotary Club invited Kratz to outline the project which is expected to break ground later this year.

Quakertown officials, state representatives and members of “Free Fall Action Sports” announced that $350,000 in state grants have brought funding for the park to nearly $1 million. A few days later, State Senator Bob Mensch and State Rep Craig Staats participated in a press conference at Quakertown’s Borough Hall. They praised the project and emphasized that young skate boarders were helping to lead the way.

Several skate boarders attended the meeting and weren’t shy with their observations. Eric McIntyre,16, said the park is great not only for the current skateboarders but for the Quakertown community as well. Braxton Jonson, also 16, added that the park was important to other skaters because it’s a “second home with a second family.”

Finally, did you read the Associated Press story that state lawmakers around the country are pushing schools to put more emphasis on teaching students how to tell fact from fiction? That’s great.
Lawmakers in several states have introduced or passed bills calling on public school system to do more to teach media literacy skills that they say are critical to democracy. The effort has been bipartisan but has received little attention despite successful legislation in Washington State, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Mexico. I hope that Pennsylvania joins the list.

A study published last year by Stanford University researchers also brought the issue into focus. The AP story warned that students from middle school to college were easily duped and ill equipped to use reason with online information.

Last, do you know the importance of voting? Your vote counts. How many times have you heard that question?

Well in Newport News Va., control of Virginia’s House of Delegates remained far from certain after a Democratic candidate petitioned a court to declare her the winner of a race that was officially tied.

Last week the election was determined by “lot.” and the Republican candidate was declared the winner.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith



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