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Charles Meredith: A well-run superintendents’ office


Dear Friends,

Good morning. One of my favorite Quakertown school superintendents just celebrated his 90th birthday. John Holbert led Quakertown schools for 10 years. He was excellent. Mighty Betsy and I learned of his milestone thanks to John’s administrative assistant, Evelyn Gerhart.

Over the years, you faithful readers have read my praises for Evelyn and her fabulous voice. Whenever I was disturbed about something in the Quakertown school system, I’d call John Holbert. But it was Evelyn’s voice I heard first. She was disarming, almost hypnotic. I was putty in her hands, ready to hear any John Holbert explanation. His quiet, calm, and friendly demeanor instantly won the day.

In the years that followed Quakertown School Superintendent Joseph Neixig’s death in 1958, he was succeeded by superintendents who alternated between popularity and disdain. Evelyn Gerhart was the administrative assistant for every superintendent until she retired several years ago. She knew who the good ones were …as well as the not-so good ones.

Here’s the note John Holbert sent. “From a grateful 90-year- old,” he began. “I had a great 90th celebration. All my adult kids were there as well as extended family and friends. Seventeen of my 18 grands were there as well.

“Initially I fought the idea. I suggested waiting until the 95th but my kids didn’t like those odds. I’m glad I agreed because I realized that “90” was a pretty special milestone.

“I certainly am enjoying retirement. I volunteer at Bethany Village (Mechanicsburg) where Elva and I lived until her passing 10 years ago. I drive old ladies to church and appointments. I UBER when I feel like it (never telling my age so as not to scare my riders). I spend as much time as possible with my grandkids; movies, eating out, vacations, special events, etc.

“I’m assuming that my efficient administrative assistant, Evelyn Gerhart, alerted you to the event. As an elderly friend of mine stated, ‘I want to live as long as I have a life’ … me too.” John signed off with a wish for a joyous holiday season with friends and family.

Quakertown schools were lucky to have John Holbert as a superintendent … and ably assisted by Evelyn Gerhart,one of my favorite “voices.”

Last week, MB and I bought our Thanksgiving day turkey at Bolton’s in Silverdale. One of their charming helpers told us that Bolton’s sold nearly 5,000 turkeys this year. That’s a lot of “Gobbles ’til you wobble!”

Our favorite foot doctor gave us his take on the recent county election. Dr. Joseph Campbell has been the Bucks County Coroner since 2000. Alas, he was defeated. I asked him whether he lost because of the unpopularity of President Trump. He wasn’t sure. I have no doubt however. Trump is toxic in suburban counties across America. Until a few years ago, the four Philadelphia suburban counties (Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery) were Republican strongholds. No longer.

I told Dr. Campbell that Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick will be in the political crosshairs next year. His vote to impeach President Trump will be the crucial factor determining Fitzpatrick’s durability.

On a different subject, Dr. Campbell told us that he attended a pre-grand-opening of the new St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital. More than 3,000 toured the new facility, which will have 80 patient beds. Dr. Joseph O’Neill was the master of ceremonies. It was quite an event.

Finally, did you read that Robert Godshall, the longtime Montgomery County lawmaker died at age 86? He served 35 years in the Pennsylvania Legislature before retiring last year. Godshall represented a district that included Lansdale, Souderton and parts of Franconia. He was succeeded by Steven Malagari, a Democrat.

In 2003, Godshall was named Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Business Owners. In 2007, his name was added to the Souderton Area High School Hall of Fame. Bob Godshall was a good man.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith