Greenbelt News Review Retirement Luncheon
Staff members of the Greenbelt News Review held a retirement luncheon for three longtime volunteers of the paper: Leonie Penney, Meta Lagerwerff, and Marie Wong. The lunch took place at Sir Walter Raleigh Inn on Greenbelt Road.
Sir Walter Raleigh Inn is in Berwyn Heights, across Greenbelt Road from Greenbelt Middle School. Opened in 1970, this is an old fashioned restaurant known for its prime rib and salad bar. Here Marie Wong, one of the honorees of today’s luncheon, arrives.
“The Sir Walter Raleigh Inns strive to take you back over 200 years in history when hospitality, good service and quality were of the utmost importance.” There were once several Sir Walter Raleigh Inns in the Washington area, such as Bethesda, Gaithersburg, and Alexandria, but now only the Greenbelt location remains.
“Sir Walter Raleigh: Good Food… Good Drinks… Good Times!!! Featuring seafood, salads, steaks & ribs.”
“God Bless America”
Sir Walter Raleigh Inn has two private rooms—The Terrapin Lounge seats up to 60 people and the Back Room up to 40. The News Review luncheon takes place in the Back Room.
Leonie Penney is one of the three honorees today. She is 94 years old and came to the United States from Holland in 1948. Penney and her husband Walter moved to Greenbelt in 1957 when they bought one of the first houses in the Woodland Way community. She lived there for more than five decades until earlier this year. Penney has an economics degree from Holland and later earned a master’s in computer science from the University of Maryland. Her computer skills came in handy when she worked for the News Review’s advertisement desk. I ask her when she started working for the paper, and she says, “B.C. Before Computer.” She recalls working at the paper’s former location in Parkway Apartments before moving to the current office in the Community Center in 1995.
Leonie Penney was also active in issues related to senior citizens. She was a founder of GIVES (Greenbelt Intergenerational Volunteer Exchange Service) and a member of the city’s Senior Citizen Advisory Committee, and she played a large part in the shaping of the GAIL (Greenbelt Assistance in Living) program. For her volunteer work, she was named Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen in 2008 when she was 90 years old.
Marie Wong (left) and Meta Lagerwerff. Like Leonie Penney, they worked at the paper’s ad desk, meeting with advertisers and helping them with placing ads in the paper. After living in Greenbelt for three decades, Lagerwerff now lives in Hillhaven in Adelphi. Wong tells me that she lives in an unincorporated area near Greenbelt (“with no services”) and has adopted Greenbelt as her town. She will soon move to San Francisco to be close to her daughter. Her new place will be a cooperative senior community.
Joanne Tucker (left) has worked at the paper for 40 years. She has had many roles and now works at the ad desk with Marie Wong and Jessi Britton who took over Lagerwerff’s work. Diane Oberg (center) is on the News Review’s Board of Directors, and Harris Maclay is Meta Lagerwerff’s chauffeur today.
Sue Krofchik (left) talks with Virginia Beauchamp. Beauchamp has worked at the News Review for more than five decades and is one of the longest-serving members of the staff along with news editor Elaine Skolnik and editor Mary Lou Williamson. Beauchamp was Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen in 2002.
Judy Bell (left), treasurer of the News Review board, shares a conversation with David Lange, as Sandra Lange (right) talks across the table. Both David and Sandra Lange have been active in community affairs for many decades. Currently David Lange is the chair of the Greenbelt Middle School Task Force, and Sandra Lange is perhaps best known for chairing Greenbelt’s 50th Anniversary Committee which organized a yearlong series of commemorative programs in 1987 and established the Greenbelt Museum. David and Sandra Lange were Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen in 1986 and 1987 respectively. (David Lange emphasizes to me that he is not on the staff of the paper; he is here with his wife.)
On the left, Mary Lou Williamson has worked for the News Review for 50 years and has been its editor for 40. She joined the paper after her neighbor Virginia Beauchamp knocked on her door and asked her to contribute to the paper’s special issues for Greenbelt’s 25th anniversary in 1962. In 1987, when the city celebrated its 50th anniversary, Williamson was the general editor of a history book “Greenbelt: History of a New Town: 1937-1987” which includes several chapters written by News Review staff members such as Barbara Likowski, Virginia Beauchamp, and Elaine Skolnik. This book contains many photos from the Library of Congress and the News Review’s archive and is still the authoritative history of Greenbelt. It was updated in 1997 at the city’s 60th anniversary year and the editor was Sandra Lange. Williamson was Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen in 1985.
Sitting at the far side of the table are, from left, Jim Link, Eileen Farnham (Board of Director president), Barbara Likowski (assistant editor), Barbara Hopkins, and Ginny Jones. Here is another Outstanding Citizen–Barbara Likowski was so honored in 2007. She joined the News Review in 1971 and has been its Assistant Editor, second in command to Mary Lou Williamson, the editor, since the 1980s. She works long into the night with a few other dedicated staff members (including Mary Lou Williamson and Eileen Farnham) on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, editing on Tuesday and proofreading on Wednesday.
Stephanie Maxwell of Sir Walter Raleigh Inn brings out a bottle of Placido Pinot Grigio 2011 from Italy.
Krystal Nancoo-Russell, a graduate student in journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park, interviews Leonie Penney. Her article on today’s honorees and this luncheon is in the August 2, 2012 issue of the Greenbelt News Review which can be downloaded here.
Jim Link, a reporter for the paper, talks to Eileen Farnham, President of the Board of Directors.
On the left is Jessi Britton who took over Meta Lagerwerff’s work at the ad desk. For some years, Lagerwerff worked on Mondays and Britton on Tuesdays. Now Britton works on both days. After Marie Wong announced her plan to move to San Francisco, the News Review has run ads in the paper seeking a volunteer to fill Wong’s job. The ad in the July 26, 2012 issue reads: “Help Wanted / Greenbelt News Review Needs Your Help / Reliable Volunteer Needed to Work the News Review Add Desk / 3 Available Time slots / Mondays 2-4 p.m. or Tuesday 2-5 p.m. or 8-10 p.m. / Responsibilities include: Meet and coordinate with individuals and business advertisers; and Coordinate with newspaper staff / Help Out in Your Community.”
Six of Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizens are in this room: Mary Lou Williamson (1985), David Lange (1986), Sandra Lange (1987), Virginia Beauchamp (2002), Barbara Likowski (2007), and Leonie Penney (2008).
The Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen of the Year award honors residents for their outstanding volunteer service to the community. The first recipient was Al Cousin in 1973 (who was the scoutmaster for Greenbelt Boy Scout Troop 746 for 32 years and who passed away a week ago on July 20, 2012) and the following year Elaine and Al Skolnik were honored for their work with the News Review. Each year, residents send nominations to the Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen of the Year Selection Committee, and the selection is announced during the opening ceremonies of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. The honoree then leads the annual Labor Day parade. Another member of News Review staff who has received the award is Jim Giese (2010).
Owners of Sir Walter Raleigh Inn Ronnie and Jerry Cosker greet the News Review group in the Back Room. They tell me that they have owned the restaurant since 1976. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner and is known for its prime rib, salad bar, and crab cakes. There are two private rooms—the larger Terrapin Room and this Back Room. Many local organizations hold gatherings here such as the Greenbelt News Review’s Christmas party, University of Maryland alumni groups and athletic teams, and meetings by College Park Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Prince George’s County, and several Lions Clubs. There are also special meals for holidays including Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Thanksgiving. Currently the restaurant serves a summer hot lunch buffet for $10 per person and whole Maine lobsters for $19.95 each.
“Best Wishes: Leonie, Meta & Marie”
Stephanie Maxwell of Sir Walter Raleigh Inn brings the cake to the table.
Marie Wong, Meta Lagerwerff and Leonie Penney
Eileen Farnham, President of the Greenbelt News Review Board of Directors, speaks: “We are so glad we can get together to do this. We are so glad to have known you and for this chance to say our farewell formally and officially but you are not done with us. We can find you.” She thanks the three volunteers for their longtime contribution to the paper.
“Thank you and godspeed.”