Posts Tagged ‘Judge Max Rosenn’

Wilkes University: Life Lessons from Judge Rosenn

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Wilkes University: Judge Max Rosenn: A Man for All Seasons

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2015
All Rights Reserved

Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with … honesty and truth.Ralph Waldo Emerson

On a cold, damp March afternoon, Kitch and I made a Face of America journey to the campus of Wilkes University. OurPoster-1 destination was the Marts Athletic Center. Our purpose was to share a re-edited version of our Windsor Park Story, Judge Max Rosenn: A Man for All Seasons with students, teachers and parents who attended the March 26th, Gardner Educational Forum Lecture.

Kitch and I produced this episode from interviews we did with Judge Rosenn in 2004. We wanted to enable the most celebrated jurist in the history of Northeastern Pennsylvania to speak for himself about his life and his legacy. We wanted to highlight his definition of character, integrity, community service and justice. We wanted to enable young people to connect with a man who personifies the characteristics and values of America at its very best.

Several times each year, the Gardner Educational Forum brings Judy Bob Logo-1together students, teachers and parents in a community setting to learn about people, places and experiences that will expand the horizons of the students, affirm the important service of teachers, and enable parents to experience the creative and invaluable opportunities Judy and Bob Gardner have been offering their students and IMG_0729graduates for many years.

Judy and Bob have a priceless gift, they make everyone feel like a valued member of their educational family. They create a palpable feeling of belonging and joy when you are with them.

As always, Dr. Robert Gardner started the event with a warm welcome to everyone and an expression of gratitude to the attendees, the participants and the organizers of the event.

Thinking Out Loud

To give structure to this part of the session, our PowerPoint presentation contained 34 slides including 26 informational slides DK pictand 8 slides with questions that were designed to stimulate questions and comments.

We dedicated the lecture to Dr. Dan Kopen, a Wilkes graduate and a well respected surgeon. Dr. Kopen gave Kitch a second chance at life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In our opinion, Dr. Kopen is a man for all seasons. Little did we know that one of the participants in the room was a breast cancer survivor and a patient of Dr. Kopen’s. This is what she wrote about the dedication:

I, too, am ever thankful for the kindness and surgical expertise Dr. Dan Kopen afforded me in my life. His kindness and getting me through those days was a onetime gift of a lifetime. I can understand how you place him… in your presentation today.

Of all the questions we asked the audience, these three opened a gateway to the video:

Why should we study the life of Judge Rosenn?
What is character?
What is integrity?

The first question provided a natural transition to this thought. We study Judge Rosenn’s life because values matter…example is important. Studying his life will help us better understand the meaning and application of important values.

To provide context about the meaning of character and integrity, we included a discussion of Sir Thomas More, who, to this day, is the personification of courage, faith, forgiveness, honor, humility, learning, loyalty, patience and thoughtfulness. More was the first person to be honored with the title “A Man for All Seasons.”

Judge Rosenn Speaks

With help from Beth Spencer and Tracy Kaster, we were able set up title AMand screen the episode about Judge Rosenn.

Sitting in our garden on a beautiful summer afternoon in 2004, the judge spoke eloquently and sincerely about the life experiences which helped him to develop character. In his opinion, character is formed at home, in school and in a religious setting. He believes his character was formed by the time he was 12-years-old. For the rest of his life his character gave him a moral compass that guided his actions in private and public life.

He was unequivocal in his comments about the need for people with character and integrity in all walks of life. People who put theMR!A interests of the public they serve above selfish interests of personal gain. He was as critical of CEO’s of major corporations and bankers as he was of elected officials, and rightly so. This was the era of the Enron and the World Com scandals to name but two stories that dominated the news at that time.

When Judge Rosenn spoke about his legacy, he emphasized the service he gave to his community after the devastation of Hurricane Agnes in 1972. He said this was one of his finest moments.

He also mentioned his attempt to get equal treatment for women in military service, and his attempt to uphold the claim of a private citizen that public officials like the U.S. Treasurer were obligated to perform a just and accurate accounting of the disbursements of the United States.

Life Lessons

In this section we reviewed Judge Rosenn’s comments MRH3about:
Respect for the dignity of the individual;
Respect for law and country;
The need to judge people by their character, not their race, social or financial status and the need to learn something every day.

During the Q&A session, an undergraduate student majoring in education who attended the event with her father, who is a teacher,IMG_0721 told us that everyday, she and her father sit down to talk about what they have learned that day.

A young, athletic undergraduate told the audience he learned that it is important to be the best person you can be.

A teacher shared this poignant thought: “There’s hope out there. In the classroom, I have to be kind.”

Another teacher shared this hopeful thought: “I come away revived and feeling that it’s going to be alright.”

While looking for a quotation that would summarize our experience IMG_0746at Wilkes University, I discovered these powerful words of Robert M. Hutchins, president and chancellor of the University of Chicago:

Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, teach them to think straight, if possible.

That’s a perfect description of what Judy and Bob Gardner do for their students, and how they use their Educational Forum Series to inspire other teachers to do the same for their students.

What we experienced at Wilkes University was a classic example of America at its best.

Thank you, Judy and Bob.
Thank you, Beth and Tracy.
Thank you, Judge Max Rosenn.

Please provide feedback to:

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2014
All Rights Reserved

Lord we thank Thee…for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies that make our lives delightful. Robert Louis Stevenson

The words of one of the most beloved poets best explain theGroup gratitude Kitch and I have for the priceless gifts we received in 2014 from our friends and family.

The year began with a memorable event at the Gateway Theater in Gettysburg. Thanks to the the kindness of Robert Monahan, Jr., the screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg was a perfect way to share the story of the Medal of Honor convention, the values associated with the Medal of Honor and the transformation of the students from North Plainfield, New Jersey who attended almost all of the convention events recorded in the documentary.

After the screening, we received this comment from a mother and grandmother who attended the screening:

IT REALLY SHOULD BE SHOWN TO THE SCHOOLS as the majority of the youth are not exposed to the humility, sincerity and dedication that you presented.


In March, we had the good fortune to participate in the Annual Ethics Conference at Marywood University. Organized by Dr. Murray Pyle and several of his colleagues at Marywood, it was a day of learning, and a priceless opportunity to make new friends and experience the beauty and the welcoming atmosphere of Kitch’s Alma Mater.

This is one of the transformational thoughts offered at the conference; There is no dichotomy between being a good person and being a success in business.

Dr. Murray Pyle “We thank you for the peace accorded us this day.”

On a beautiful march day, we traveled to Baltimore to attend the 15thIMG_5217aMJKD Annual Women in Maritime History Awards. Our friend, Mary Jane Norris was the honoree. During her acceptance speech she shared this thought: Do small things well, because they all add up.

Mary Jane we thank you for the gift of your example.

In April, Dr. Rex Dumdum, Jr. arranged a screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg at Marywood University. He attended to all the details of the event including dinner, a reception an afterglow, and the technical matters that make or break an event of this IMG_5597A250nature. Rex made sure there were no anxious or stressful moments before, during and after the screening.

It was an evening of community, friendship and learning.

There were no limits placed on the Q&A session. That enabled students, teachers and visitors to provide invaluable feedback. That experience inspired one of the students in attendance, Amber E. Clifford, to write a heartfelt comment about the documentary:

“Four Days of honor and Valor in Gettysburg is truly inspiring to those who are struggling to do what they know is right.”

Thank you Rex. You give special meaning to the words of Anna Sewell: “Good People make good places.”

In April, we participated in the annual Refresh Leadership Live Simulcast at the McCann School of Business in Wilkes-Barre, PA. ELL_5857_1_250

The facility was perfect for the event.

The people from the school were very pleasant.

The room where the event was held was an excellent choice for the session.

The members of the Express Pros team were very friendly and willing to do whatever they could to make everyone feel right at home. Their kind and welcoming way reduced the normal anxiety levels that accompany a presentation of this nature.

On that day, we met three radian faces of America, Kathleen Nolan Barrett and Kathy Barrett, Jeff Doran

In May, Amy Clegg invited us to participate in an Express Business Solutions Seminar in Scranton. Jack Smalley, the Director of HR Learning Amy Jack2and Development for Express Employment Professionals, gave an informative and inspirational presentation about leadership.

These are but two of the thoughts he shared with his audience:

Leaders are responsible. They leave the excuses behind.

Effective leaders do not accommodate falling stars. They encourage and reward excellence!

Jack Smalley is a man who exemplifies professionalism with heart.

Thank you, Jack for giving us the strength to encounter that which is to come.

In May, we traveled to North Plainfield, New Jersey for two screenings of our documentary. These events were organized by Tom Mazur. The screeningScreening 1_3_IMG_8045 at the High School enabled us to experience the ways in which the documentary resonates with students.

The comments students shared with us after the screening made the long and demanding days and nights of location shooting and editing worthwhile.

The evening screening showed us that adults relate to the messages in the documentary in very positive ways.

This screening gave us an opportunity to celebrate the leadership of the MB_Gift_8179retiring superintendant of schools, Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum. Without her belief in our work, we would not have been able to do what we have done in North Plainfield since 2009. That work may be over, but the positive memories will live on forever.

Later in the year, we joined a delegation from North Plainfield in Atlantic City. There we screenedFour Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg for a small audience at the New Jersey School Boards Association Convention. That venue proved the accuracy of Seneca’s words: It is quality rather than quantity that matters.

Several times this year, we had an opportunity to celebrate quiet heroes who make our world a better place because of their acts of kindness andIMG_4437 consideration. Many of these people are associated with Geisinger/CMC in Scranton and Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. Several articles in our blog record the competent and compassionate medical care Kitch received during her total knee replacement surgery.

To Dr. Harry Schmaltz and his team of caring professionals an adaptation of Stevenson’s words best records our gratitude. We thank you for the hope with which we expect tomorrow.

In 2014, both Kitch and I spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital for tests and procedures. In our blog, we expressed our thanks to the people who did their jobs without noise or notice in an excellent and humane way.

Judy Bob200_9229sm

In October, we visited with our friends at Wilkes University. This occasion gave an old teacher a new classroom, and an opportunity to work with an impressive group of students who wanted to learn something about character education.

If you are looking for excellence in education, you need look no further than the creative work of Judy and Bob Gardner and their colleagues. What they are doing to enhance learning opportunities for students in the Education Department at Wilkes University is impressive.

Thank you Judy and Bob for giving us an opportunity to help you with the important work you are doing.

A few weeks later, we traveled to Luzerne County Community toIMG_6231 participate in the Annual History Conference. This year Bill Kashatus invited us to partner with Mollie Marti to tell the story of the life and legacy of Judge Max Rosenn. To do this we produced a new version of the Windsor Park Story we broadcast about Judge Rosenn in 2004. It was a sentimental journey to one of our favorite places with one of the most impressive leaders we have ever met, Judge Max Rosenn.


In November, we drove to Binghamton, New York to celebrate the naturalization of two of our very favorite people Viola and Rex Dumdum. Sitting in the historic courtroom where the ceremony took place gave us a better understanding of what America and the blessing of American citizenship is all about.

What a gift it was to welcome two magnificent citizens to America on their big day.

Perhaps the most challenging work we did during the year took place during the early morning hours after we had attended to our other responsibilities.

In January, shortly after the screening in Gettysburg, Kitch and I began to work on a book for our grandchildren. Designed to be a legacy gift, it is a visual narrative. It combines images from our Face of America project and several documentary projects like our What IsIMG_8304 for Article America? Series and our Miracle Project with the life lessons we have learned navigating the bumps on the road of life.

During their Christmas visit we presented the book as a surprise gift to the grandchildren and their parents.

In a way, it closed the circle for us.

An adaptation of the words in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem Morning Prayer enables us to give thanks for the blessings of 2014 and look ahead to the New Year with hope:

Lord we thank Thee for the place in which we dwell… the peace accorded us this day…for our friends…give us the strength to encounter that which will come in 2015…that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.

Happy New Year!

Please provide feedback to:


Teaching History with Conscience

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Looking Backward to Move Forward with Hope at Luzerne County Community College

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2014
All Rights Reserved

You can’t move forward until you look back. Cornel West

On a beautiful October morning, Kitch and I made our way to the Conference Center at Luzerne County Community College to look back atA Program_250 three episodes of Crime and Punishment in the history of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Dr. Thomas P. Leary, President of Luzerne County Community College, opened the event with a warm welcome and an expression of gratitude to the attendees, the participants and the organizers of the event.

When Mark J. Richetti, Jr., Executive Director of the Luzerne County Historical Society, addressed the audience, he reinforced the kind words of Dr. Leary and he thanked Dr. William Kashatus, the chairman of the conference.

Dr. Kashatus set the tone for the conference when he encouraged everyone to actively participate with questions and comments.

Justice with Honor

Dr. Mollie Marti, author of Walking with Justice IMG_6239 keynoted the conference. She shared several servant leadership lessons from her mentor Judge Max Rosenn.

Five quotations from Judge Rosenn helped everyone better understand the man and his philosophy:

1. A leader’s true value is created by the compassion and healing he or she brings to humanity;                  

2. Celebrate what is right with the world…so you create more energy to help fix what is wrong;

3. In times of great uncertainty and need, you will have doubts. Also have hopes. Have dreams;

4. If we didn’t feel that an individual can shape one’s life we would not be concerned with developments of character and fundamental precepts like justice, the value of truth, the redeeming power of compassion and the transforming power of love;

5. Seize every opportunity to affirm others.

When Mollie finished her remarks, the lights in the room dimmed so the audience could watch Judge Max Rosenn: A Man for all Seasons. Kitch and I produced this program specifically for the conference. Drawn from a series of interviews we did with Judge Rosenn in 2004, it was our attempt to enable the most celebrated jurist in the history of Northeastern Pennsylvania to speak for himself about his life and his legacy.

After the screening, Mollie and I answered questions from the audience. For me, the most poignant and memorable question came from a student.

“Where can we find our heroes?”

Anthracite Labor Wars

In 2013, Dr. Robert Wolensky and William A Hastie, Sr., published a book IMG_6307entitled, Antharcite Labor Wars: Tenancy, Italians and Organized Crime in the Northern Coalfield of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 1897-1959. On this day, they would trace the history of the anthracite labor wars in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Their presentation focused on the nature of crime and corruption in the anthracite industry.

Using newspaper headlines and archival materials, they presented a litany of cleverly designed techniques used by mobsters and corporate executives to circumvent the legal system and discriminate against miners.

They also highlighted the activities of crusaders and reformers like Rev. John J. Curran and Rinaldo Cappellini who did everything they could to purge the industry of these captains of the night.

These excerpts and headlines from some of their slides will give the reader a better understanding of their presentation:

1987 the Battle of Archibald, Italian laborers protest subcontractors getting a “take” from their wages.

Opposition to IWW- I stand rigid and deep rooted with reference to the fight against the existence or perpetuity of such an organization (The IWW) in our community). Fr. John Curran 1916

The Murder of Detective Sam Lucchino, 1920


Dr. Wolensky ended his presentation with a quote from Michael IMG_6324Woodiwiss, author of Organized Crime and American Power and Gangster Capitalism. The Woodiwiss quote challenged everyone in the audience to rethink one of the basic misconceptions about the origins of crime in the anthracite industry:

The mistake that has always dogged U.S. organized crime control efforts was the misperception that organized crime was composed of conspiratorial entities that were alien and distinct from American life. A great deal of evidence suggests the opposite. High-level politicians and respectable members of business and professional communities have gained more from organized criminal activity than any other group…

The Darkest Moment

Former Pennsylvania County President Judge and Juvenile Judge Mark Ciavarella Sentenced to Prison Term of 28 Years

Former Pennsylvania County President Judge Michael Conahan Sentenced to Prison Term of Seventeen And A Half Years

Despite Red Flags, Judges Ran Kickback Scheme for Years

The afternoon session was dedicated to a discussion of the Kids for Cash Scandal. Robert May, the producer of the movie Kids forIMG_6343 Cash talked about the rationale for the movie, its reception in cities around the country, and the positive reception it received in Washington, DC.

He shared excerpts from his film. One of these scenes contained an explanation of the “Zero Tolerance” philosophy that justified harsh punishments for juvenile offenders.

He emphasized the point that the film presents both sides of the issue. He also told the audience that disgraced Judge Mark Ciavarella, the author of Zero Tolerance in Luzerne County, gave him a reason to produce the film when he said that he hoped his work on the bench would produce some good.

Judge William Amesbury, journalist Terrie Morgan-Besecker and author IMG_6348William Ecenbarger joined May for a panel discussion about the movie and Luzerne County’s juvenile justice system.   

Judge Amesbury talked about how the Luzerne County juvenile justice system has changed since the scandal. He introduced several of the people who work with him to correct the abuses of the past and provide constructive alternatives that are centered in rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

William Ecenbarger is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He is a soft spoken man. His book Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children and a 2.8 Million Kickback Scheme chronicles the story of the abuses in the juvenile justice system and the culture that permitted it to happen.

During the discussion he was critical of the conditions that permitted the Kids for Cash scandal to happen. He also made the point that across the country one finds many examples of injustice to juvenile offenders that are rooted in a flawed public perception of the juvenile justice system.

Terrie Morgan-Besecker talked about her award winning series about the juvenile justice system in Luzerne County. She joined Judge Amesbury in complimenting Atty. Al Flora for the reforms he initiated when the Luzerne County Juvenile Defender Unit was created in 2010.

Flora’s cardinal rule was simple:

When charged by police with a delinquent act, all children are entitled to the constitutional right of effective assistance of counsel.

All the members of the panel agreed that the denial of this constitutional right to the youngsters involved in the Kids for Cash scandal was the most egregious offense.  

Before the conference came to a close, Bill Kashatus summarized theIMG_6351b most important lessons learned during the sessions:

1. We must adhere to the rule of law in Luzerne County;

2. We must understand that kids are not small adults;

3. We must address family issues that are the root cause of many of the problems;

4. We will never fully understand why people do bad things, but we must continue to
explore issues like crime and punishment in Northeastern Pennsylvania;

5. Zero tolerance is a flawed philosophy;

6. Judge Max Rosenn is an example of character and integrity. He is a model for all of  us;

7. Luzerne County is not the only place where corruption exists in America;

8. We need positive energy in the reform community.

The 23d Annual History Conference was a day of celebration, community, critical thinking and learning.

It was interesting, informative, at times painful, and thought-provoking.

An adaptation of the words of Carl Sagan applies:

You have to know the past, no matter how painful, to understand the present and improve the future.

Thank you, Luzerne County Community College for hosting the event.

Thank you, Luzerne County Historical Society for co-sponsoring the conference.

Thank you, Luzerne County Community College Food Service Department. Lunch was excellent.

A special thank you to the Community College AV-people for the professional way they managed every PowerPoint presentation and video.

Thank you, Bill Kashatus for making it happen.

The conference underlined the importance of history and the wisdom of Cornel West’s words.

As Kitch and I were leaving the conference center the words of David McCullough reverberated in my mind:

History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.  

(The first two headlines in The Darkest Moment Section of this article were taken from press releases issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The third headline is from an article that appeared in the New York Times on March 27, 2009)

Please provide feedback to:

Walking With Justice, Servant Leadership

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Walking With Justice, Servant Leadership

Written by: Tony Mussari
Edited By: Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs: Kitch & Tony Mussari
Copyright 2013, Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

God, help me make a contribution to a just world. Judge Max Rosenn

Some readers have called Mollie Marti’s book,IntroductionBG_1355 Walking with Justice, thoughtful, inspiring, transformational and profound. One reviewer celebrated it as a timeless handbook for being human. For Kitch and me, it is all that and more.

Last week our Face of America journey took us to Wilkes University. We wanted to be in the audience at the Gardner Lecture Series when Dr. Mollie Marti told the compelling story about her mentor, Judge Max Rosenn.

It was a wonderful moment of celebration and respect for a jurist who deserves nothing less. It was a beautiful moment for Mollie who is doing everything she can to share what she calls a love story similar to Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. It was an incredible learning opportunity for the people who attended.


Mollie began her presentation with a heartfelt tribute to Judge Rosenn: “ He was the greatest servant leader I’ve known.”

Then this mother, lawyer, teacher and psychologist provided context with a definition of a servant mentor:

It is someone who inspires you to be more passionate about serving others and believing there is no other way to live. “From inside out, a servant mentor leaves an indelible thumbprint on the soul of another.”

You could hear a pin drop in the room when Mollie transitioned into her description of Judge Rosenn as a servant leader.

These are some of the things Kitch and I learned about Servant Leadership as practiced by Judge Max Rosenn and experienced by his law clerk, Mollie Marti.

1. Servant leaders are driven by the passion to serve others.

2. Servant leaders heal wounds and restore relationships.

3. Servant leaders are masters of empathic listening and affirming others.

4. Servant leaders inspire others to keep moving forward when hope is in short supply.

5. Servant leaders are masters of rejuvenation.

6. Servant leaders are stewards who are committed to help others grow.

7. Servant leaders create an environment that encourages resilience.

8. Servant leaders value relationships.

9. Servant leaders are solution-oriented.

10. Servant leaders celebrate what is right, and they work together to remedy what is wrong.

According to Mollie, “Our choices ultimately determine what we achieve and who we become.” Servant leaders provide models for productive choices.

One of the most important lessons Mollie learned from Judge Rosenn is recorded in this quotation:


If we didn’t feel that an individual can shape one’s life, we wouldn’t be concerned with developments of character and fundamental precepts like justice, the value of truth, the redeeming power of compassion, and the transformational power of love.

One of the most valuable lessons Mollie taught Kitch and me happened when she shared these words of wisdom: “No circumstance is so dark or hopeless that a change of heart and smart action cannot change the course.”

Samuel Butler believed that every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or anything else, is always a portrait of himself. Kitch and I went to Wilkes University on a beautiful autumn afternoon to listen to a friend talk about her hero. In the course of the discussion we recognized that the portrait she drew of Judge Rosenn produced a vivid image of her caring, giving, sharing andMMJG_1354 serving heart of gold and soul of platinum.

Thank you, Judy and Bob Gardner for this marvelous experience.

Thank you, Judge Rosenn for a lifetime of service to our country and our community.

Thank you, Mollie for preserving this legacy and sharing this message of hope and healing. You and your mentor are an essential part of the mosaic of the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

Please provide feedback to:

Battling Cancer with Living Prayers

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Living Prayers, Celebrations and Mother’s Day 2011

By Tony Mussari
Copyright 2011
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

The worst thing in your life may contain the seed of the best. Joe Kogel

Kitch’s Journey: Pleasant Surprises

On Thursday Kitch had her second 280 mg Taxel treatment, and we had an eye opening experience that will remain in our hearts forever.

To be perfectly honest, Kitch dreads going for chemotherapy. She fears the needles, the chemicals and the consequences of the drugs. Two days before the appointment you can see the dread in her eyes.

Nevertheless, she does not complain, and she musters all the positive energy she has to handle the situation with calm acceptance, courage and dignity.

Several friends old and new, some of our relatives like my daughter, my sister, my niece Theresa from Maryland and my cousin Kathy and her daughter  Susan from New York, help us get ready for the inevitable with encouraging  notes, calls and acts of kindness.

Friends we made in North Plainfield, New Jersey and at Fox Chase in Philadelphia are always there for us with positive words and helpful suggestions.

Two breast cancer survivors who we have never met, Pat and Kathy write thoughtful notes and our friends Janie, Jayne and Chuck from Shanksville, and Bill from Orwigsburg are there for us in meaningful ways.

Our friends Julie from California and Marilyn from Dallas and Tulsa respectfully, and Elisa from Long Island have been nothing short of inspirational in what they have done and continue to  do to lift our spirits.

Our friend Bob from Portland has shared every phase of his wife’s experience  with us so we can be prepared for every eventuality.

Ann Marie, the mother of one of our formers students, has been very kind and  very helpful in all the ways that matter.

Our Neighbor Theresa, has baked delicious German pastry for Kitch, and another  neighbor who is dealing with a life threatening illness brought her daughter  and her grandchildren to the garden on one of the few sunny days of this otherwise  damp, dark, and very wet spring.

Nothing brings hope like the innocence of a child, and these children are wonderful in the questions they ask about the garden, the fish and the frog.

Marlene from Ashley and Gerry from Delaware baked the most delicious Irish  Soda Bread we have ever eaten.

Dr. Richard Loomis, my former teacher and chemotherapy patient, is sharing  his experience and showering Kitch with prayers for recovery.

If you ask kitch to describe these people, she will tell you they are the Face of America on its best day, and we are the beneficiaries of their kindness.

Living Prayers

There is no way we can repay these people and many others whose names we have not mentioned in this newsletter, but there is a way we can follow their example, and that is what we try to do.

Yesterday while Kitch was sleeping during the last phase of her treatment, I talked with one of the cancer patients who has been friendly to us. She is an older woman who is always alone.  Her only  companion is her walker. During our conversation she began to cry. She is suffering mightily, and she is in a very difficult circumstance. She needs additional medical care for the Neuropathy that has swelled her feet and her left arm, but she is reluctant to make additional appointments because her son works at night and he sleeps most of the day.

This is not a woman of wealth or connections. She is a widow living on a social security income who is waging her second battle against breast cancer. The painful and haunting look on her face touched my heart, and I promised her I would do something to help.

During her daily telephone call I mentioned the situation to Ellen Mondlak, our lifetime friend and cancer patient. Ellen connected me with a wonderful woman we met during the production of Windsor Park Stories, Brenda Lispi. Brenda works for the bureau of the aging. The result of these conversations was positive. 

Last evening, I called our fellow traveler on the dark gravel road, and I gave her the telephone numbers of the organizations that will help her find a  solution to her problem. The pain on her face enabled us to do something I learned in grade school at St. Mary’s. “When you can’t say a prayer, live the prayer with a kind deed or a thoughtful gesture.” To be honest, I have found living prayers to be the best prayers.

To everyone who has been kind to Kitch during her walk along the dark gravel road called cancer, this prayer was for you.

Two Wonderful Events

Last Sunday, Our Face of America Journey took me Misericordia University in the morning, Wilkes University at night.

Scholarship recognition day at Misericordia is always a special event, and this year was no exception. In fact, it was extra special for me because the new director of development, Jim Bebla, is a former student of mine.  

Jim is a wonderful person and a consummate professional with a heart of gold. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a former student equal and surpass the teacher.

Congratulations Jim and best wishes for success.

Misericordia will always have a special place in my heart, and I know Kitch feels the very same way. We have only pleasant memories of the Sisters of Mercy and the members of the administration and staff. Dr. Michael MacDowell has been a very effective leader. He and the members of his faculty and staff have created innovative programs like the Women with Children Program that serve the needs of students who want to make a better life for themselves and their  children.

Jane Dessoye, Executive Director of Enrollment Management, summarized the event and the philosophy of a Misericordia education with the words of a confederate soldier Albert Pike:

"What we have done for ourselves dies with us; what we have done for others and the world, remains and is immortal.”

At the end of this visit, I took a picture that speaks to the essence of Misericordia. It reinforced something Jim said in his speech, “This scholarship brunch holds special meaning for all of us because it celebrates the wonderful caring spirit that is at the heart of the mission of the Sisters of Mercy.  And today, in this room, you can feel this joyous spirit that makes Misericordia so special.”  

Our evening at Wilkes University was a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Max Rosenn Lecture in Law and Humanities.  It was quite an evening for a very dear friend, Joe Savitz. Joe is affectionately known as the “First Law Clerk,” and everyone went out of their way to affirm and congratulate Joe on the work he has done to make the lecture series a success.

I was fortunate to capture one of the high points of the night for Joe, a reunion with Dr. Mollie Marti. Mollie has written a book about Judge Rosenn.  It is titled Walking with Justice. It will be published in January. This picture captures the moment when Mollie showed Joe a picture of the copy of the book cover. I think the facial expressions speak louder than any words I can write.

Congratulations Joe, you are a wonderful friend.

Congratulations, Mollie. I hope Walking with Justice is a huge success.

Writing Again

Speaking about books, after a two month hiatus while I devoted all of my time to Kitch’s needs, I started to write again this week. At the moment I am preparing material for our agent, and refining some of the chapters in the book about our Face of America Journey.

Writing is a very demanding master.  One must have patience, persistence, time and a quiet place to concentrate. In so many ways, it is an insecure and tedious process that involves writing and rewriting. On the days when the words just won’t come I spend time cleaning up our garden.

Like writing, gardening it is challenging, creative and humbling.

Happy Mother’s Day

Sunday will be the 103d time America celebrates Mother’s Day. Thanks to the determination of Anna Jarvis and her devotion to her mother, this holiday has become the second most successful commercial  holiday in America. That is not what Anna Jarvis intended it to be.

The first Mother’s Day was a day of prayer, and a celebration of peace and the virtues of motherhood.  It took place at the Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.  Today this church is a central part of the International Mother’s Day Shrine in Grafton.

On Mother’s day, Kitch and I will be thinking about the many sacrifices our mothers made for us.  We will follow Anna Jarvis lead and give thanks for the blessings of our mothers.

We will remember the words of our greatest President:

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.

A mother understands what a child does not say.

I regard no man as poor who has a godly mother.

All I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel; mother. Abraham Lincoln

May your Mother’s Day and every day be blessed with peace, good will and good health.

Tony & Kitch

This article was originally distributed as our Face of America Journey Newsletter for May.  

Please provide feedback to