Board Officers 2018
President- Lynne O’Neill
Vice President- John Barto III
Treasurer- John Halko
Athletic Director/Baseball Director –Ed Ziegenfuss
Softball Director- Michele Laubach
Field Hockey Director – Melissa Grohotolsky
Pavillion Rentals- Ryan Kramer
Al Fortna Memorial
On July 1, 2014, the Egypt Memorial Park lost beloved board member Allen Fortna. Words cannot express what Al Fortna meant to our park and our community. He was a true friend who spent countless hours helping at park events. If you attended Curt Simmons Days, fish fries, car washes, baseball signups, or any other park event, you no doubt had contact with Al. Al’s son, Alex Fortna, was very active in the park’s sports programs. Even after Alex grew up and moved on to Penn State, Al remained committed to the Egypt Memorial Park. At our board meetings, we could always rely on Al to bring sensible insight and ideas to any issue being discussed. Al Fortna was a giver who always thought about what was best for the children of our community. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Our Volunteer of the Year Award, started in 2012, will now be known as The Al Fortna Award. The award, which now has even greater meaning, will be presented at our annual Christmas Party. Memorial donations received in his memory will be used to purchase something Al would have loved – a new piece of playground equipment.
In the spring of 1944, Harvey Steckel, Esq., of Allentown, suggested to several person of Egypt the appropriateness of establishing a park as a “Living Memorial” to the men and women of the community who served in World War II. During the summer of the same year, several informal conferences were held by Mr. Steckel, Francis Reinert, Edward Renner, Dallas Kohler and the Thomas Brendle at which the possibility of establishing a park was thoroughly explored. It was felt that the land along the historic Coplay Creek from the Troxell-Steckel House to Kohler coal yard would be a suitable site, not only for the beauty and advantages which a stream of water gives to a park, but also because that location would be an extension of the Troxell-Steckel project and to a certain extent form a unit with it.
In the community at large meanwhile, strong sentiment had appeared for the establishment of a “Living Memorial.” For the purpose of discovering the strength of this sentiment and also of crystallizing it for some definite purpose, a public meeting was called through the newspapers for the evening of November 11, 1944 in the Egypt Fire Hall.
THE FIRST MEETING
In response to the call a goodly number of people assembled in the Fire Hall. Mr. Steckel addressed the assemblage. He pointed out the value of a community park and suggested the lands along the Coplay Creek as a suitable site. The address was favorably received and immediate steps were taken to effect an organization for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a community park along the Coplay Creek. Temporary officers were elected: President, Thomas Brendle; Vice-President, Raynold Hankee; Secretary, Frances Reinert; Treasurer, Preston Smith; and Directors: Dr. Edwin Minner, Samuel Neupauer, Edward Renner, Dallas Kohler, Harry Weaver, Harry Grammes, Estella Reinert, Florence Kachline, Minnie Ritsick, Gertrude Leh and Florence Eberhart.
After the election of these officers, the president was directed to appoint a committee for the acquisition of the properties which would be embraced in the prospective park. Accordingly, Preston Smith, Edward Renner and Joseph George were constituted an Acquisition Committee.
The next meeting was held on December 1, 1944, when Joseph George, reporting for the Acquisition Committee, stated that the prospects for securing the desired properties was favorable. Two weeks later, December 15, the application for incorporation was signed by the officers and directors; and the name Egypt Memorial Park Association, Incorporated, was adopted as the official name. At this meeting, Dallas Hoffman, chairman of the Improvement Committee, reported that the cost of developing the desired properties into a park would be approximately $25,000.
The close of the year 1944 found the Association with three great problems before it: (1) the creation of a smoothly functioning organization, (2) the acquisition of properties, (3) the raising of $25,000.
THE YEAR 1945 AND THE FIRST DRIVE
The first meeting of 1945 was held in May. Unexpected difficulties had arisen in obtaining title to the land, but faith in the ultimate realization of the project was not at all dimmed and plans were laid at this and subsequent meeting to raise the funds needed for development and improvements. A card index was made of the residents of the town and surrounding community; the area was divided into sections and canvassers appointed for each; and Henry Haberern was elected Financial Secretary. These preparations having been made, a drive for funds was scheduled to begin on July 21, 1945 and to close on August 15th. The goal aimed at was set at $25,000.
The drive was successful. The goal was not reached, but by the time all the reports had come in, the amount in cash and pledges was approximately $10,000 and this was regarded as very good in view of the size of the community.
THE GREAT MEETING OF APRIL 29, 1946
The results of the drive showed that the community was wholeheartedly behind the project. The horizon, however, was not clear. The acquisition of the desired properties along the Coplay Creek was meeting with difficulties and, as often with delayed projects, undesirable features in the original plan itself began to be noted – there was the problem of flood waters, the distance from the center of the town, the difficulty of carving out a suitable playground and a baseball diamond, and of constructing a swimming pool which would meet the approval of the State Board of Health. All this came out in a discussion of the Coplay Creek plan at a meeting held on April 16, 1946. As a result, the Association turned to an alternate plan, the establishment of a park along Hill Crest Lane, with the baseball field as the primary unit.
Such a change in plan had to meet with the consent of those who had contributed on the understanding that the park was to be established along the Coplay Creek. For the purpose of ascertaining how the contributors were minded, a well advertised meeting of the community was called and held on April 29, 1946.
Harry Grammes presented the by-laws which were adopted. The difficulties of carrying out the Coplay Creek plan and the desirability of adopting the Hill Crest Land plan were presented by the president. After a full and free discussion a motion was made by Lloyd Diehl, seconded by Wilma Weaver, authorizing the Association “to go ahead immediately” with the Hill Crest Lane plan.
Thereupon the “dirt began to fly. ” Before the end of the year, title to 8.15 acres of land had been secured: 2.8 acres from Christian and Spencer Wenger; .27 acres from Albert Hoffman; 2.59 acres from Benjamin Heintzleman; .28 acres from Charles Boyer; .21 acres from Alfred Balliet; 1.69 acres with a right of way to the Coplay Creek from John Madeya; and .31 acres donated by Thomas Hoffman. Grading equipment was put to work; the western part of the tract was lowered and the eastern part (baseball field) was filled up.
The community playground equipment which had been on the school grounds was moved to the park; Tulip Poplar trees gotten on the Lazarus farm near Topton and Periwinkle vines gotten near Spinnerstown were planted; water and electricity were brought into the grounds; baseball courts were erected and paved; grass seed was sown, etc. The amount of work done is almost unbelievable. The picture of the activities going on day after day, the noise of the graders run by the Semmels, Clayton and Oliver, and the sound of blastings will long linger in the mind as pleasant memories.
Much work was done by volunteers headed by Harry Weaver, Edward Renner, Lawrence Simmons, Raynold Hankee and Florence Kachline, but the greater part of the work had to be paid for. To secure funds, a second drive under Dr. Minner, as Chairman, was conducted; and a carnival was held jointly with the Fire Company.
One thing more should be added to this account of things done in 1946. On May 3, under the adopted By-Laws, the following officers were elected: President, Thomas Brendle; Vice-President, Raynold Hankee; Secretary, Francis Reinert; Financial Secretary, Henry Haberern; Treasurer, Stanley Handwerk; Directors: Edward Renner, Harry Weaver, Samuel Neupauer, Thomas Hoffman, Florence Kachline and Minnie Ritsick.
THE YEAR 1947
The feverish activity of 1946 was not followed as one might suppose, by a letdown, and the work done in 1947 was equal to that of the preceding year. In spring, an anchor fence was erected around the entire property. The Tulip Poplars which had been planted did not thrive and were replaced with Oriental Sycamores and Oaks. Benches were bought at the Fogelsville Park, and also bleachers. A refreshment stand was opened and operated through the summer and fall under the supervision of William Hoffman.
The Egypt Athletic Association, under its president Lawrence Simmons, had been most cooperative in the year 1946, and now proceeded to erect a grandstand at its own expense. This was completed before the baseball game between the Egypt team and Philadelphia Phillies National League team, a game which attracted national attention through the appearance of Curtis Simmons as the pitcher for the home team.
The Park Association fully appreciates this work of the Athletic Association and has taken action that the latter shall have priority and free use of the baseball field.
The Egypt Fire Company has likewise been most cooperative. At the very first meeting, the Association was invited by Harold Worman, the President of the Fire Company, to hold its meetings in the Fire Hall. It has jointed the Park Association in holding carnivals in 1946 and 1947.
During the summer the playground equipment which had been bought in 1946 was received and installed.
The last “great work” of the year was the erection of a Memorial of Blue Mountain Stone in honor of the men and women who served in World War II. The monument was laid up by Lester Kern. It was unveiled and dedicated in September. The dedicatory address was given by the Honorable John Diefenderfer.
Looking back and seeing the immense amount of work that was done, one asks, How was it all done? To answer this, one must look at the setup of the Park Association. It is a corporation which meets annually on the third Friday of January when, among other business, officers and directors are elected. In the interim between the annual meetings, the affairs of the corporation are conducted by the Board of Directors. The president of the Board appoints chairmen of standing committees – Ground Committee, Construction Committee, Playground Committee, Refreshment Committee and Finance Committee – who have the power to fully constitute their committees and are responsible for carrying out the work given into their hands. The president, also, appoints special committees.
Upon the chairman the burden of the work has rested, and will continue to rest. They are the spark plugs of the project. The general supervision of the park is given over to a manger who is elected by the Board of Directors. In the year 1947, Lawrence Simmons was manager; for the year 1948, Raynold Hankee has been elected.
The funds received from the two drives were large but by no means sufficient to meet the expenses as the development of the park proceeded.
At the meeting of the Board of Directors after the annual meeting of corporation in January of 1947, Stanley Handwerk was appointed chairman of a Finance and Activities Committee (the activities being such as would raise money). He has worked untiringly and most successfully in this capacity; and the ability of the Association to dedicate the park free of debt is due to his genius to raise money and the unceasing efforts which he has devoted to this end.
The officers for 1947 were: President, Tomas Brendle, Vice-President, Raynold Hankee; Secretary, Frances Reinert; Financial Secretary, Henry Haberern; Treasurer, Stanley Handwerk; Directors: Edward Renner, John Groller, Florence Kachline, Lawrence Simmons, William Hoffman, Stewart Borger, Dallas Hoffman, August Ballas, Edmund Peters and William Snyder.
It has been hoped that Mrs. Thomas Hoffman would write a separate sketch of the Ladies Auxiliary. She, however, desires that the data which she has furnished be included in this history of the Park, and in deference to her wish it is here done.
The ladies of Egypt organized an Auxiliary on April 30, 1947. The officers elected were: President, Mrs. Thomas Hoffman; Vice-President, Kathryn Steedle; Secretary, Pauline Worman; Financial Secretary, Mildred Handwerk; Assistant Secretary, Hazel Kachline; Treasurer, Jean Hoffman.
The purpose of the Auxiliary as stated in its Constitution and By-Laws, adopted April 12, 1948, is “to assist in the maintenance and development of the park property; to promote the social activities of the community, particularly of the younger generation; also to render financial aid, when and as needed, to the Egypt Memorial Park Association, Inc.”
In the first year of its existence, the Auxiliary has given to the Association the sum of $700. It purchase the handcraft material and the prizes for the playground season of the summer of 1947. For the children of the community it conducted a Romper Day and an Easter Egg Hunt in the Park, and a Christmas Party in the Fire Hall. At least two hundred children were present at each of these events.
It held two bake sales, one at the Father’s Day dinner conducted by the men, the other on St. Valentine’s Day. At present it is sponsoring a profitable Merchandise Club.
During the summer and fall of 1947, it assisted in conducting the refreshment stand on the grounds. An evidence of the close union between the Association and the Auxiliary is shown by this, that a member of the Auxiliary automatically becomes a member of the Association.
Here we close our brief sketch. We have said little of the headaches, disappointments, head-on collisions with almost immovable obstacles – these all appear in the minutes of the recording secretary. But, why should we? They are all gone with the wind and the Park remains – a living Memorial of honor to the brave.
Written By Thomas R. Brendle
In the past 65 years, the park has nearly doubled in size to 16 acres. Many improvements have been made, including more baseball fields, a band shell, an enclosed pavilion, a roof between the band shell and pavilion, new basketball courts, new playground equipment, new restroom facilities, and storage garages.
Today, as it has in the past and will continue in the future, the park is the scene of many activities. The traditional Easter Egg Hunt is held annually. The playground equipment is enjoyed by children of all ages. The athletic facilities are utilized to their fullest capacity by people of all ages. The park is home to many social activities, such as church picnics, birthday parties, graduation parties, family reunions, fish frys and other special events.
Several great improvements were made to the park in 2011. In June, the park had the good fortune of being the recipient of a field makeover through the Chevrolet Diamonds and Dreams contest won by Martin Chevalier, a gentleman who lived nearby. Part ofMr. Chevalier’s prize was a field makeover, valued at $20,000, to a local organization of his choice. Ripken Designs of Baltimore engineered the project and the work was completed in October by a former major league groundskeeper.
With the gracious help of Whitehall Township, modern restrooms in the pavilion were completed in July. These restrooms will enable the park to utilize the pavilion year round for park functions and rentals. The first Egypt Memorial Park Christmas party was held on December 14, 2011. Plenty of food, drinks, games and a visit from Santa Claus helped make it a great success. It is sure to be an annual event.
The park also initiated a new website, egyptpark.org. The website includes news and events, photo galleries, game, field, and snack stand calendars and information on park rentals.
We will continue to update our facilities wherever and whenever needed. Goals include adding security cameras, a new sound system, a laptop computer, a new freezer, high-efficiency lighting in the kitchen and pavilion, concrete flooring and heaters for the pavilion, dugouts for all baseball fields, and the building of a fifth field on land shared with Whitehall Township, just west of little league field number three.
Original members of the Association toiled long hours to raise funds and to maintain the park. Those challenges remain, and presently active park members work hard to keep our park the pride of the community.
We would like to thank everyone who has contributed, with both time and money. With the help of the Egypt community and Whitehall Township over the past 65 years, the park has continued to be a great place for everyone. We look forward to continued success and fun for generations to come. To those of you who conceived this idea and are gone from us, we, who continue to enjoy the benefits of your efforts, say THANK YOU! To those of you who are active today, we know we could not continue without your help. To those who are not active, become active, for there is no greater reward than sharing a common goal with your fellow man, especially in sharing the principles upon which the Egypt Memorial Park was founded and continues to thrive and grow.