PHMC Outstanding Service Awards for 2020-21

PHMC's Outstanding Service Award is presented in recognition of and sincere appreciation for exceptional, long-term volunteer service to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, our historic sites and museums, and the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Alan Mochnick
Bushy Run Battlefield
Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society
Alan Mochnick’s first recollection of Bushy Run Battlefield is as a young child accompanying his uncle to play the pump organ for the dedication of a memorial plaque on Flagstaff Hill. His father was a historian, and his family had property surrounding the Battlefield. Alan grew up in Penn Township with stories about Bushy Run and its history, which has held his interest throughout his life. He has served the community in many ways and out of respect for his father and the great staff and volunteers at Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society he wanted to become more involved. For well over 20 years, Alan has been a great asset to Bushy Run. He is a former board member, worked at the front desk and gift shop, and used his many mechanical and electrician skills to repair and make improvements where needed. He installs the bricks at the monument, was a big part of the refurbishment of the visitor’s center, set up and participated in events, and cuts the fields in preparation for the Annual reenactment, just to name a few of the many ways he has supported the Heritage Society. His dedication, talents, and presence will be long remembered by future generations.

David Weber (in memoriam)
Drake Well Museum & Park
Friends of Drake Well
Before his passing in 2021, David Weber spent over thirty years at the museum, initially as a part-time staff member and eventually as a volunteer. He was indispensable as a researcher and helped countless visitors to the museum solve their family history mysteries and assisted scholars delving into the unknown past. He took every opportunity to share his knowledge; from school tours to adult history camp, his passion for history was evident. He readily shared his enthusiasm when new collections arrived and willingly contributed any related background information. David truly made an impact on all facets of the museum. He wrote all the labels for the outdoor exhibits during the 1980s. His favorite exhibit was the Central Power. He knew the history of each piece and has left behind his ideas of how the exhibit could be expanded to include the casinghead gasoline story and what pieces would be needed. David’s passion for oil history came alive when he portrayed his living history character, “The Pumper,” which was part of Museum events from 1989 until his passing. One of David’s most important contributions was recording over 150 oral history interviews focused on local oil history, business, and industry that have now been transferred from cassette to disc and are part of the museum’s collection. Most of the people he interviewed have since passed away, so these recorded memories are all that is left; they are an incredible resource for historians and researchers. David’s encyclopedic knowledge, countless research hours, and photographic memory were of vital importance to staff of the museum and the Friends of Drake Well. He is greatly missed.

Jo Ann Long
Joseph Priestley House
Friends of Joseph Priestley House
Jo Ann Long has been a volunteer at Joseph Priestley House for decades, joining the Friends Board in 2001 and serving as treasurer for five years. When she retired from teaching in 2005, she became a docent and was Joseph Priestley House’s Volunteer of the Year for 2007. Her passion for and knowledge of the museum is unmatched. Since 2010, Jo Ann has served as our volunteer coordinator, organizing and scheduling docents for our weekend tours and other volunteers for parties and special events. She also coordinates and runs our summer history camp for elementary students. Jo Ann serves as a docent for special tours often during the week for Priestley descendants, visiting dignitaries, and chemistry enthusiasts. She keeps track of all our volunteer hours, helps with the year-end reports and the year-end inventory. Jo Ann has been a great support to our first paid staff person, providing him with her detailed knowledge of the history and traditions of the Friends of Joseph Priestley House. She works tirelessly on behalf of the agency and always has a warm, welcoming smile.

Norman Oelschlegel
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
Norman Oelschlegel began his volunteer service at The State Museum in 1991 after he retired from the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Security. He started out on the 4th floor assisting Fine Art curator N. Lee Stevens with various duties for the annual Art of The State exhibition, as well as working with the collection. After Lee retired, Norman offered his service in the PHMC library under the direction of librarian Paula Heiman. There, he assisted with cataloging and sorting books. When Paula retired in 2011, Norman went back to The State Museum’s 4th floor collection area to assist with various duties under museum curator Bob Hill. Years before he became a volunteer, Norman had supported the museum by donating his father’s World War I U.S. Army Air Service uniform, which was featured in a 2018 exhibit at The State Museum. From 2007 through the end of 2021, Norman has volunteered a total of 1,110 hours. The museum staff could not be more thankful for his long-time commitment and dedication to Pennsylvania’s history.