Mr. Blue Suede Shoes Would have Turned 75 Today!

Maybe it’s because I live across the road from Chubby Checkers and have a love of ‘most’ kinds of music (mainly jazz) but I could not let today pass without a mention what many claim was the true ‘king of rock & roll’ Elvis Presley. Today would have been Elvis Presley’s 75th Birthday. A little walk down memory lane for those of you old enough to remember the ‘King’.

I was trying to figure out the tie-in of Elvis’ birthday with Community Matters and Tredyffrin Township but a friend reminded me of the obvious reason.  Each year the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust has held a spring fundraiser In the Mood.  The first year it was In the Mood. . . Jazz on the Porch & Dancin’ in the Barn and featured jazz musicians.  Last year, the theme was In the Mood . . . Bluegrass, Blue Jeans & Bar-B-Que and featured a real bluegrass band.  The decision for 2010’s In the Mood theme is Fabulous Fifties with music from the 50’s — get out your poodle skirts and dust off those blue suede shoes.  

Speaking of the Trust’s In the Mood fundraiser, it will be held in June (specific date not yet decided).  Judy DiFilippo and I will once again co-chair the event.  For all of you faithful volunteers, you will be contacted shortly and for all my new friends who would like to join this fun group, please send me an email,  Each year the great evening has been held in a barn.  So the next question, are there any barn owners out there who would like to help us this year?  Again, contact me and I will give you the details.

What better way to honor Elvis than to announce the Trust’s In the Mood . . . Fabulous Fifties spring fundraiser on his birthday!

What is a Leader?

As we close out one year, and begin a new one, we all reflect on our lives.  As I watched the last few Board of Supervisor meetings, I reflected on the effect that Judy DiFillipo’s retirement would have on our community.  Having served this township as a supervisor for 20 years, I wrote the following ‘As I See It’ article for this week’s edition of Main Line Suburban Life newspaper to honor Judy and her leadership qualities that benefited the residents for 2 decades.  And as a means of full disclosure, . . . yes, Judy and I very close friends.

For those who do not receive the paper, here is my article:

    As I See It:

    Tredyffrin lost something special with DiFilippo’s departure

Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

By Pattye Benson

Year’s end is always a time of reflection. We look back over the last 12 months and take measure of where we are now in relation to where we were when the year began. As we begin 2010, the residents of Tredyffrin Township will have the opportunity to reflect on what will now be a “missing link” in our local leadership.

What makes a good leader? Not everyone is made to be a leader … there are leaders and then there are followers. Leaders come from all walks of life and economic backgrounds and from either gender. Leadership does not discriminate. For the last 20 years Tredyffrin Township was fortunate to have a “leader” in retiring Supervisor Judy DiFilippo. For many in the community, Judy represented what can and should be “good” about serving as an elected official. Whether you watched the Board of Supervisors meetings from home or sat in the audience, she possessed the ability to transform and command respect from others on either side of her.

Judy guided the township in an orderly and purposeful manner, even in situations of discontent and uncertainty in the community. As a supervisor she was tolerant of ambiguity and remained calm, composed and steadfast to the main purpose… to serve the residents of Tredyffrin Township. We all knew that we could trust Judy; she governed as she lived her life, with honesty, integrity and strong internal guiding principles that she did not compromise. Judy “walked the talk” and in doing so earned our respect and the right to have responsibility for this community. Her “calming of the waters” approach to governing reassured us … we just all knew that it would be OK as long as Judy was guiding the ship.

Judy understood the importance of serving a wider community. We may not have always agreed with her decisions but we could be confident that the community’s best interests were at the core of her decisions. As a supervisor Judy could wade through difficult information, comprehend what is relevant, make a well-considered decision and take action based on that decision. Judy believed her purpose as an elected official was to serve all the community and did so with genuine concern for all of the residents. As a leader Judy inspired others to follow. She led yet people did not feel that they were being led. Judy served as a quiet leader without demanding recognition and praise, a quality that is quite rare among many elected officials.

I understand all too well her many attributes; our friendship goes back nearly as long as she served as a township supervisor. For close to 20 years our lives have been intertwined … standing next to each other as members of the Noteables; co-chairing the Tredyffrin 300 celebration as well as many other events for the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust; together producing the historical documentary, “Tredyffrin … The First 300 Years,” etc. For me Judy has been the one constant friend in my life who would listen first, counsel second and never judge my decisions (even if she did not always agree with them). A true sign of a gifted leader (and close friend) is someone who really listens; the fastest and most effective way to show that you care and that you are competent. Many of us are challenged by the concept of listening but not Judy. I envy this natural talent in my friend and just another quality that sets her apart from many in the world of politics.

A good leader is committed to excellence. Second best does not lead to success. Judy not only maintained a high standard for herself but also was proactive in raising the bar in order to achieve excellence in all areas. Just her presence makes those around her want to be better people.

How will we feel that the person who “set the bar” for 20 years, who created the real “gold standard” for Tredyffrin Township, is no longer sitting on the dais? Yes, we know that Judy will stay involved in our community, and yes, I know that she and I will remain the best of friends, but I fear that the residents of Tredyffrin Township lost something very special when Judy DiFilippo decided to retire from the Board of Supervisors.

Pattye Benson lives in Malvern.

Supervisor Olson Provides Updates on Fire Company’s Holiday Drive

I am excited to report that Supervisor Olson contacted me in regards to my questions surrounding the Fire Company’s Holiday Drive, the timeline for collection, contributions collected to date, responsibility for follow-up, etc. Yes, on the eve of the first 2010 Board of Supervisor meeting, Supervisor Olson called to give me an update. As you recall, Supervisors Olson, Lamina and Kampf organized the Holiday Drive, which culminated in the $23,200 cardboard check that was presented to Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor Fire Companies at the last Board of Supervisor Meeting on December 21. Supervisor Olson was able to offer the following information in regards to the Holiday Drive.

  • There is now a paper trail in place to track the pledges and donations, which will allow easier follow-up.
  • All fire company Holiday Drive pledge money to be contributed by March 31, 2010.
  • All checks for the Holiday Drive are to be made payable to ‘Berwyn Fire Company’. Berwyn Fire Company will make the appropriate disbursements to Radnor and Paoli Fire Company.
  • Supervisors Olson and Lamina met with Berwyn Fire Company president Rip Tilden in the last couple of days; checks totally $8,950 were given to the fire company.
  • According to Supervisor Olson, there is not concern regarding the duplication of fundraising efforts to local businesses. It was my understanding that the Berwyn Fire Company is willing to review the contribution checks and make the decisions necessary so that each fire company receives contributions from businesses in their particular jurisdictions.
  • Supervisor Olson is unclear as to the exact meaning of Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee (TTRC) Chair CT Alexander’s ‘matching fund’ statement that accompanied his announced contribution of $5K from TTRC. Supervisor Olson indicated that the TTRC money was going directly to the Berwyn Fire Company and was not included in the $8,950 checks already distributed. He was uncertain of the exact contributions to date by TTRC but thought it was about $2K (Apparently, TTRC’s contributions are going directly to Berwyn Fire Company). Supervisor stated that he was not a TTRC committee person and therefore was not certain about the details. He suggested I contact Mr. Alexander directly for follow-up on that issue. (If Mr. Alexander or members of TTRC are reading this blog, any update you can provide related to the $5K fire company contribution would be helpful).
  • Supervisors Olson, Lamina and Kampf will take care of all necessary follow-up required for the Holiday Drive.
  • I inquired whether the full list of Holiday Drive donors would be public. Supervisor Olson’s reply was appropriate; he said that the judgment to release the donor list would need to come from the fire companies.
  • Supervisor Olson mentioned the idea of creating a Fire Company board, suggesting representation on the board from local businesses. There are required capital expense items upcoming for the Berwyn Fire Company, and help with funding is needed.
  • It is not the intention of Supervisor Olson to make the Holiday Drive an annual event.

Supervisor Olson was completely forthcoming in his responses. Although I am grateful for his candor, I did suggest that it would be helpful if he would make this information public at tonight’s Board of Supervisor Meeting. Open and transparent government leaves the public asking fewer questions and I challenge the Board of Supervisors to think about this as a resolution for the New Year.

Based on the fundraising talents of Supervisors Olson, Lamina and Kampf, . . . I am making a personal appeal.  If they can raise in excess of $20K for the fire companies in a matter of days, I am asking them to help me and the Board of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust with our Build the Barn Capital Campaign.  Historic preservation needs their help in Tredyffrin; I am asking them to join us to raise the necessary funds for our rebuilding effort.  Locally, we have recently witnessed the tear down of La Ronda in Lower Merion and Radnor’s Eastern College tear down of a historic log cabin.  Let’s show our neighbors that Tredyffrin Township cares about their historic resources . . . and I’m asking the Board of Supervisors to help.

Successful Earnings of AmerisourceBergen, Chesterbrook-based Drug Distributor Announced

You often hear about the salaries of corporate executives, especially this time of the year as end-of-the-year bonuses are given.  So it was interesting to read an Associated Press article about the compensation package paid to the top executive of one of our Tredyffrin-based companies.  Drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp. is headquartered in Chesterbrook and David Yost has been its CEO since 2001 and its president since 2007.  Yost’s total compensation package for 2009 rose 3% to $5.5 million.  Included in the package, his salary rose by 4% to $1.2 million, and his performance-based cash bonus grew 11% to $3 million.  However the value of his stock options dropped 16% to $1.1 million.  AmerisourceBergen’s operating profit grew 7% due to lower expenses and better profit margins.  Total revenue increased by 2% TO $71.76 billion.  Yes, that is billion not million.

It’s great to know that we have such a successful company in our community.  The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is kicking-off our Build the Barn Capital Campaign for the Jones Log Barn rebuilding project.  I’m thinking that as a Chesterbrook-based corporation, that maybe Mr. Yost and his AmerisourceBergen company might like to make a splash in their own backyard and help us with our barn rebuilding project at Historic DuPortail.  Can’t think of a better way for this local company to show their community-spirit than through a donation to support historic preservation. 

Historic Winter of 1777 — Experience a Soldier’s Story

For those that know me, you know that I am passionate about remembering Tredyffrin’s history and  the preservation of our historic properties.  Tredyffrin residents are fortunate to live in such a historic place and I encourage you and your families to take advantage of a very special experience this upcoming weekend.  Members of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment re-enactment group, local authors, park rangers and others will commemorate the Continental Army’s historic winter of 1777 march-in to its Valley Forge encampment site on Saturday, December 19, 6-8 PM at the Valley Forge National Historic Park. The park rangers and volunteers will be dressed in period-costume and will ceremoniously march attendees from the Visitor Center one-quarter mile to the Muhlenberg Brigade area. There, around reconstructed huts on the ground where the original 6th Pennsylvania Regiment stayed 232 years ago, regimental re-enactors will share stories of soldier life during the encampment. At the Visitor Center, artist Michael Ticcino of Audubon and Schuylkill River Heritage Area co-authors Kurt Zwikl and Laura Catalano will sign books. Ticcino’s coffee-table book, “Valley Forge: Traditional Land, Contemporary Vision,” is a collection of beautiful photographic imagery of the park. Zwikl and Catalano penned “Along the Schuylkill River” to document the river’s history, moniker as the “River of Revolutions” and boundary along the Valley Forge encampment site.

At the Visitor Center a George Washington interpreter will interact with guests and the Colonial Revelers will perform period holiday songs. Refreshments will be served and the Encampment Store will be open for holiday shopping. The event is free and open to the public.   Hope that you will plan to attend and share some local history!

Historic Preservation is Alive & Well in Tredyffrin!

Letter to the Editor

Main Line Suburban:
We strive to preserve our history for so many reasons. We preserve out of a need for memories and to understand our past. We preserve to protect our quality of life, our pride of place and our sense of community. We preserve so that we can pass on to future generations Tredyffrin Township’s rich past. This past Saturday, June 20, the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust held its annual fundraiser, In the Mood. This year’s theme was Bluegrass, Blue Jeans and Bar-B-Que and was held at the Barn at Sycamore Hill in Malvern. Together again as co-chairs, Judy DiFilippo and I sought to create a night of down-home good fun, to further awareness of historic preservation and to raise funds for the Trust’s rebuilding effort of the historic Jones Log Barn as a living history museum.

As the In the Mood committee worked on preparations during the day, we were concerned about the weather and the possible effect on the turnout. As if on cue at 7 PM, the music started, the rain stopped, the guests began to arrive and out came the blue skies and a rainbow. Through the generosity of Jackie and Fernando Becattini, their barn became the perfect backdrop for the sounds of bluegrass band, Walt Crider and the Old Time Way from York, PA. A very successful event, over 140 guests joined us in raising funds for our barn-rebuilding project.

As our country faces uncertain economic challenges, I would like to praise members of our local Tredyffrin community for working together with a sense of community spirit and support for preserving history in our community. Our historic buildings and neighborhoods help to provide a sense of place and community that attracts visitors and contributes to the quality of life for local citizens. “Place is not a synonym for location. Place is a location that has been claimed by feelings.”

On behalf of the Trust, I wish to thank our many volunteers, businesses, and corporate sponsors that helped provide an evening filled with music, drink, food, fun and laughter. It does indeed take a community to build a barn and I am grateful to live in a community where we can set aside our differences and come together for a shared common goal.

Pattye Benson
In the Mood – Bluegrass, Blue Jeans and Bar-B-Que

In the Mood – Bluegrass, Blue Jeans and Bar-B-Que, Saturday, June 20, 2009

Together again, Judy DiFilippo and I are co-chairing the annual In the Mood fundraiser for Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust. All proceeds from the fundraiser go toward the rebuilding of the Jones Log Barn as living history museum at DuPortail to be enjoyed by the entire community. The Trust is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization and donations are tax-deductible as the law permits.

This year’s theme for In the Mood – Bluegrass, Blue Jeans and Bar-B-Que and will feature live bluegrass music by popular York musicians Walt Crider & Old Time Way Band. The event starts at 7 PM next Saturday, June 20 at the barn at Sycamore Hill in Malvern and will keep going until the beer runs out or the sun comes up! Ticket price is $60 and includes plenty of southern style finger-licking barbecue with all the trimmings, gourmet desserts, cold beer and wine and refreshing lemonade. Wear your cowboy boots and bring your cowboy hat and come prepared for some down-home good fun and loads of laughter with your friends.
For further information or to purchase tickets online, please visit Trust website, As president of the Trust, preserving our community’s history and its historic resources is very important to me. I would encourage all our local residents to support the Trust and its mission.

Saving our Barn. Building our History.

The Capital Campaign committee of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is excited to unveil the logo and slogan, Saving our Barn. Building our History! Our vision to rebuild the Jones Log Barn is about to become a reality. We have been raising funds for this rebuilding effort since the inception of the Trust nearly 9 years ago. We are now on the home stretch and are looking forward to getting the community involved through the capital campaign effort. The barn will find its new home at the DuPortail House, next to the Federal Barn. I would encourage people to visit DuPortail and look at the new home of the Jones Log Barn – it will be placed on the foundation of an earlier barn which burned down in the 1980s. If you want to help with the Jones Log Barn project, please give me a call at 610.644.6759.

Celebrate Spring – Jones Log Barn Capital Campaign Kicks Off!

The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust hit a milestone tonight — we kicked off the Capital Campaign to raise the remaining funds for the rebuilding of the Jones Log Barn. With a tag line, ‘Saving our Barn. Building our Future’ the fundraising campaign is organized and members are enthusiastic about this final stretch before construction begins. When rebuilt, the barn will be a ‘living history museum’ for the community to enjoy. The owners of Stonehouse Antiques & Design in Strafford (next to Paddock Resturant) graciously allowed the use of their shop for an after-hours fundraiser to Celebrate Spring. I was delighted by the turnout, and excited by the support from those who attended the event. We are all believers that the ‘raising of the barn’ can be a reality.

For nearly 9 years, members of the Trust have worked together to raise funds through Fall and Spring Lecture series, annual Historic House Tour and In the Mood event, etc. We hired Dale Frens of Frens & Frens Architects in West Chester who has designed the rebuilding of the barn. After much discussion and consideration, the relocation of the historic 18th century barn will be on the property of the DuPortail House in Chesterbrook. Although originally slated for Wilson Farm Park, the Trust Board determined that the DuPortail House property is a better location. Along with the 18th century house and the Federal Barn, the Jones Log Barn will help to create a historic enclave for the community and visitors to enjoy. The barn will be placed on the stone foundation of an earlier barn which burned in 1985. Members of the Trust and the DuPortail House Boards have formed a working agreement to facilitate the rebuilding.

As president of the Trust, I am excited to see this project really moving forward and the Trust able to meet its mission to preserve a special historic resource. It is special and fitting that the Jones Log Barn, which was originally located at British General Howe’s headquarters in Berwyn, will find its new home at French General DuPortail’s headquarters. For details, history and photos of the Jones Log Barn, and ways you can help, please visit the Trust website: