Roberta Cassard, who passed away unexpectedly on September 30 after a brief illness, was a lovely person who will be greatly missed.
Back in 2007, Four Rivers honored Roberta, together with another Galesville Heritage Society founder, Jack Smith, with our highest honor, our Heritage Award. The notes from that night cite their tireless efforts to preserve, interpret and share the heritage of Galesville. “The Galesville Heritage Museum stands as testimony to their vision and their determination to secure a place in which to house the artifacts, manuscripts and oral history collection that helps document and tell the rich and diverse history of Galesville to residents and to visitors. Roberta Cassard’s tireless dedication to the community is also evident in the moving Veterans Day program that she coordinates for local veterans every year. Both have served as Presidents of the Galesville Heritage Society, and as board and committee members.” Soon after, she was awarded a Community Service award by Leadership Anne Arundel.
A tribute to Roberta reads in part: “A longtime resident of Galesville, Roberta became a founding member and first president of the Galesville Heritage Society. She was instrumental in calling the first organizational meeting at the Galesville Memorial Hall on September 11, 1991. Being one not to dally, the morning after the meeting Roberta began a video series of the waterfront, historic houses, businesses, and, especially, taped interviews with local longtime residents such as watermen, farmers, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs.
“She initiated the museum collection with donations of her personal historical artifacts. Not to be dismayed by the lack of a display area, she started out storing the collection in the trunk of her car. As the collection grew, it was moved to a shed behind the TopSide restaurant, then to the attic of Memorial Hall, then to the back room of the West River Market. Eventually Roberta served on a site selection committee to find a permanent home for the burgeoning collection. In the process, the house of a beloved local teacher was purchased with a grant that Roberta helped obtain.”
Citations for Roberta call her the “heart and soul of Galesville,” and that she truly was, for many of us who were privileged to know her. She seemed to be an unstoppable force, always just a phone call away, devoted to the museum and determined not only to keep it going, but to constantly improving it; and it is hard to think that she will no longer be waiting just inside the door for our knock as we bring another group for a visit. Our last visit with her was August 27th and was blogged by Aleithea (see “A Day in Anne Arundel County,” below), and there she is in one of our photos, as gracious and welcoming as ever. Upon hearing of her passing, Donna Hole, former Chair of the heritage area’s Coordinating Council, said, “Indeed, sad news. Roberta was with us from the very beginning as we got the Heritage Area going. A lovely, gentle woman. I will miss her.”
So will we all! Roberta lives on, I know, in the great work of her life, the Galesville Heritage Museum. If you’d like to visit this unique local museum and take part in their upcoming programs, check their website, http://www.galesvilleheritagesociety.org/, for more information.