In Memoriam: Judith C. Kohl


Judith C. Kohl, 79, died in Middletown, Delaware on December 4, 2018 from cardiac arrest following complications after knee replacement surgery. The only daughter of Willard and Grace Louise (Harnly) Cleek, Judy was born at Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia on September 12, 1939 and spent her childhood years in Lansdowne, PA. Following the early death of her father she attended The Ellis School in Newtown Square graduating valedictorian in 1957. She earned a BA from the University of Delaware and an MA from State University of New York at New Paltz. Her postgraduate study at City University of New York focused on Venice and water imagery in the poetry of Ezra Pound.

Judy was Professor Emeritus of English and Humanities at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she taught from 1966 until her retirement in 1995. Known for a classroom style that made American literature accessible to all students, she taught courses ranging from remedial English to autobiographies of marginalized Americans. A specialist in modern drama, she led numerous annual trips to London where students were exposed to contemporary theatre. She was Director of the Honors Program and founder of Exploring Transfer: a prototype program for community college students to matriculate to Vassar and other four-year institutions. She was an early advocate for community college education and repeatedly served as a faculty union negotiator. She was a reviewer for, and contributor to, numerous publications and anthologies.

While a student at University of Delaware Judy met and fell in love with a teaching assistant in one of her history classes. She married Benjamin Kohl, of Middletown, Delaware on January 2, 1961. After the birth of their first child, Benjamin Jr., the couple moved to Baltimore for Ben’s doctoral study at Johns Hopkins University. They lived in Padua, Italy in 1964 during Ben’s Fulbright year and returned to Baltimore where a daughter, Laura Ann, was born. That year abroad was the beginning of a life-long relationship with Italy and in particular Venice. After Ben’s passing in 2010 Judy continued to make annual trips, 42 in all, to the Veneto. Many friends benefitted from her role as generous host and expert tour guide.

As a working mother during the 1960s, Judy became a role model for many. She was a housefellow at Vassar; volunteer on national, state and local Democratic campaigns; protest organizer against the war in Vietnam and advocate for women’s rights. Throughout her life Judy maintained relationships with young women and men whom she mentored and inspired.

Judy’s lifelong commitment to service blossomed during her “retirement” to Kent County. She was a founding member of the Betterton Community Development Corporation, wrote the Talk of the Town Betterton column for the Kent County News, and persistently served as the town’s Chairman of the Board of Supervisor of Elections. Judy served as an advisor, director, or chairperson on numerous non-profit Boards in Kent County, and provided significant service to: The Garfield Center for the Arts, The Mainstay, Kent Youth, Inc., and The Chestertown Spy.

Washington College provided Judy with many satisfying experiences. She was a faculty member for WC-ALL, President and supporter of the Friends of Miller Library, and benefactor of Kohl Gallery.

While Judy herself was a generous supporter of many non-profit organizations, much of her patronage happened through The Hedgelawn Foundation. She and Ben created this small charitable trust in 2006 to promote the humanities, historical preservation and the visual preforming arts on Delmarva and in Venice, Italy. Their model of philanthropy, based on a requirement of matching funds, continues to enrich the artistic and cultural community of the Eastern Shore.

Judith C. Kohl is survived by a brother, John Willard Cleek and his wife, Constance, of Vero Beach, Florida; a son Benjamin G. Kohl Jr. and his wife Kimberley M. Kohl of Betterton, Maryland; a daughter Laura Ann Kohl and a granddaughter Haley Lee Carpenter Ball of Cortlandt Manor, NY; a niece, a nephew and numerous cousins. A private graveside service will be held at Old Saint Anne’s in Middletown, Delaware. A celebration of Judy’s life is being planned for winter 2019.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests making a contribution in Judy’s memory to St. Martin’s Ministries of Ridgley Maryland.

UM CMG Primary Care Announces Addition of Matthew Reetz, DO


University of Maryland Community Medical Group (UM CMG), announces the addition of Chestertown-based primary care provider Matthew Reetz, DO. Dr. Reetz specializes in family medicine, disease prevention and diagnosis and treatment of long-term and short-term illnesses, and is accepting pediatric and adult primary care patients.

Joining Drs. Susan Ross and Julia Belanger, he is seeing patients at 126 Philosophers Terrace, Suite 102 in Chestertown. Patients may make an appointment by calling 410-778-1878.

UM CMG is a University of Maryland Medical System-owned network of more than 300 primary care physicians, specialists- and advanced practice clinicians. As part of UM CMG, Dr. Reetz is affiliated with UM Shore Regional Health.

Dr. Reetz earned his medical degree from Des Moines University – College of Osteopathic Medicine in Iowa, and completed his residency in family medicine at Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore.

“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Reetz to our team at University of Maryland Community Medical Group – Primary Care in Chestertown,” comments Dr. William Huffner, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs at UM Shore Regional Health. “Dr. Reetz’s experience, knowledge and passion for treating both adults and children will be a wonderful addition to the practice and benefit to our patients in Chestertown.”

UM CMG consists of community-based provider practices affiliated with UM Shore Regional Health, UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center, UM Charles Regional Medical Center and University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.  A list of UM CMG providers is available at

About the University of Maryland Community Medical Group    

The University of Maryland Community Medical Group (UM CMG) is a multi-hospital, multi-specialty, community-based physician-led group, and part of the University of Maryland Medical System. With more than 300 primary care physicians, specialists, and advanced practice clinicians in more than 75 locations across the state, UM CMG offers patients a vast network of highly experienced providers, delivering care right in their neighborhood. For more information, visit

Film at Sumner Hall


The Chestertown Environmental Committee will be screening the film Racing to Extinction on Thursday, December 6 at 7 pm at Sumner Hall.

This film exposes the forces that are leading our planet to its next mass extinction , potentially resulting in the loss on half of all species. A how the unthinkable may occur that creatures that have survived for millions of years may be wiped from the Earth in our lifetime.

Sumner Hall
206 South Queen Street

Mid-Shore Music: Capital Ringers to Present Holiday Concert at Christ Church Easton 


On Sunday, December 2 at 4 pm the Christ Church Concert Series will present the Capital Ringers in a holiday concert for all ages.  The group, comprised of fifteen ringers, six octaves of handbells, five octaves of English Whitechapel Bells, and five and a half octaves of handchimes totaling 201 individual bells, is the largest of its kind on the Delmarva Peninsula.  

Founded in 2004 by director Linda Simms, the Capital Ringers known for their superb and engaging musicianship, but also for their showmanship utilizing the added resources of multimedia effects and percussion.  This season, the ensemble will present music for the entire family including repertoire from Trans-Siberian Orchestra (“Wizards in Winter” and “Christmas Eve-Sarajevo”, as well as “The Little Drummer Boy”, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”, and many more.  A remarkably versatile ensemble, the group is known regionally for its vast repertoire including rock n’ roll, jazz, patriotic, sacred, and current top forty tunes, in addition to traditional holiday favorites.

As the holiday season is soon to begin, plan now to see and hear this one of a kind handbell ensemble you will not want to miss!  Christ Church is located at 111 S. Harrison Street in downtown Easton. Doors will open at 3:30 pm, and a freewill offering will be received.  This concert is partially underwritten by the Talbot County Arts Council with funding provided by the Maryland State Arts Council.


Fiber Artists on Display at Heron Point


“Fiber Dimensions”, a group of fiber artists from both Maryland and Delaware, will be exhibiting at Heron Point during the month of December. The seven artists enjoy exploring mixed media, color and texture in fiber art.

Karen Schueler has created “Kansas Sunflower”, a patched, stitched and manipulated painted fabric. Arlene Favreau-Pysher explores many aspects of fiber and incorporates her sense of God, whether symbolic or humorous. Ruth Oatman’s detailed and realistic fiber wall-hangings are inspired by photos of buildings and landscapes which incorporate just the right fabric and thread. Cotton, silk and polyester fabrics are used as a base by Barbara Tinsman in her collages. Wall art artist Deborah Tiryung Sidwell loves beads and embellishments along with painting and stamp techniques. Mickey Irr is primarily a weaver and uses thread colors to paint images. Former member Virginia Abrams’ work reflects representations from photos from industry and nature.

The exhibit may be viewed daily from 10 am until 5 pm. A reception honoring the artists and their works will be held at Heron Point, 501 E. Campus Avenue, on Sunday, December 9, from 2 until 4 pm. The public is invited.

Op-Ed: President Loh and Maryland Football by Steve Parks


The University of Maryland may never be absolved of its moral responsibility for the death of 19-year-old football student-athlete Jordan McNair. But maybe the last shoe has finally dropped in this tragic debacle.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents has elected its new chair, Linda Gooden, retired Lockheed Martin executive already serving as regent. The announcement followed the firing of the athletic trainers who treated McNair. After a long and torturous process, those most directly responsible for his death now have parted ways with the university. Previously, Rick Court, the strength and conditioning coach identified by ESPN as instigator of the “toxic culture” surrounding the football program, was forced to resign.

Last month, on the heels of two investigations—one ordered by the regents—into the heatstroke death of McNair, the board recommended that head football coach D.J. Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans be retained while accepting the retirement of University President Wallace Loh. (Evans, formerly acting athletic director, was not fully in charge of athletics until after McNair’s death.) The regents lack authority to fire the football coach or athletic director, both hired by Loh. But they do have authority to fire the university president. So they gave Loh an ultimatum: Let Durkin and Evans return from administrative leave, imposed while circumstances of McNair’s death were investigated, or the regents would find a president who would. From his subsequent praise for Evans and silence about Durkin, we can surmise that Loh held the coach at least partly responsible for McNair’s death. (An ice-water immersion for overheated athletes is a proven remedy. McNair never received such treatment and the football staff waited an hour to call 911.)

The damage inflicted by the regents’ initial decision remains incalculable. But thanks to Loh’s defiant firing of Durkin one day after the verdict delivered by then board chairman James Brady, the university’s academic standing is on a path toward restoration.

Brady, former Larry Hogan campaign chair, resigned following widespread outrage over the board’s favoritism of football over academics. What a gift it might have been for Hogan’s gubernatorial opponent, Democrat Ben Jealous.

It had taken generations for the university to dispel its former reputation as a jock school. H.C. “Curley” Byrd, a Maryland alum from back when it was known as Maryland Agriculture College, was head football coach (1911-34) and university president (1936-54). Near the end of his presidency, the Terps won their only football national championship.

Byrd was succeeded by Wilson Elkins, president until 1970 before stepping up to head the University of Maryland System. A Rhodes Scholar, Elkins instituted more rigorous academic standards resulting in probation for students earning less than a C average and establishing a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, which had twice spurned Maryland. Success in athletics declined sharply in my Class of ’70 time at Maryland, but a bachelor’s degree was more highly regarded.

During Loh’s watch, a degree earned at College Park became even more prestigious. Maryland is regularly ranked in the top 25 nationally among public universities. Off-campus, the most visible changes since Loh took the reins in 2010 have transformed the school’s College Park doorstep. Route 1 was lined with seedy bars, strip malls and no-tell motels in my years at Maryland. Today, it’s booming with stylish high-rise hotels and apartment buildings for students, staff and visitors, plus inviting shopping and dining experiences.

Some observers suspected that a few regents held a grudge against Loh for renaming Byrd Stadium in response to a student resolution citing Curley Byrd’s “separate but equal” stance barring African-Americans from admission until 1951 and Loh’s decision to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference for the more lucrative Big 10 athletic conference. Others second-guessed his acceptance of “moral and legal responsibility” for the university in McNair’s death.

It’s possible that Loh, who will be 73 next year, might have retired at the end of his contract anyway. But I urge the regents, under its new chair, to offer Loh a contract extension. Maryland could hardly have expected to lure a stellar academic to succeed him as president in a climate that suggested even a tainted head football coach had more clout than the boss.

Loh has since shown who’s boss.

I’ll always be a Terp fan. (Yes, fear the turtle!) I rooted in vain for the Terps to secure bowl eligibility with a victory on either of the last two Saturdays. I still hope for a long-shot end-of-season win this Saturday over Penn State. But regardless of wins or losses, I’m even more appreciative of the academic integrity that made my daughter’s 2011 degree a star on her resume.

Steve Parks, now living in Easton, is a retired journalist who worked for Newsday on Long Island and The Sun in Baltimore among other newspapers. He is a still-proud Maryland alum.


The Potter’s Field Gospel Choir to Perform in Special Program at WC November 19


Washington College’s Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture and its Program on the African American Church and American Ideals, and the Department of Music will be presenting  a gospel choir concert and roundtable discussion this Monday November 19 at 7pm in Hynson Lounge.

The Potter’s Field Gospel Choir will perform a concert of gospel music from 7-8pm followed by a roundtable discussion led by African American ministers reflecting on the history and current dynamism of the African American church in the United States, focusing especially on the Eastern Shore and Mid Atlantic region.

Participants will include Bishop Charles Tilghman, pastor of Potter’s Field Ministry in Fairlee MD and president of the Kent County NAACP; Rev. Charles Pinkett of True Gospel Church of Cambridge MD and official in Dorchester County Public Schools; and Rev. Leroy Fitts, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Baltimore, one of the nation’s leading historically African American congregations.


Letter to the Editor: Donating Your Required Minimum Distribution


As 2018 comes to an end and we get ready for the start of 2019, the United Way of Kent County would like to remind you to be sure you have taken your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your IRA or 401K. If you are over 70.5 years of age, these withdrawals must be taken by the end of the year. And once January arrives, you can take your new withdrawal for calendar year 2019.

We would also like to remind you that there are significant tax advantages of donating part of your RMD directly from your custodian to the United Way of Kent County—or to any other qualified charity.

The RMD is taxed as regular income and may increase not only your income taxes, but may also your Part B and D Medicare premiums. Moreover, the extra income can result in higher taxes on your Social Security. By donating the RMD, or part of it, you reduce your income and subsequent income taxes, while helping to support your favorite charities in Kent County.

The Qualified Charitable Distribution provision for donating pre-tax money from the RMD is now a permanent provision of the tax code, and any IRA holder over the age of 70.5 can donate up to $100,000 of their RMD. And with the 2018 new tax law making itemizing a rarity, it makes even more sense to source your charitable donations from your RMD.

A few simple requirements: The money is limited to the RMD and is capped at $100,000. The money must come direct from the IRA custodian to the charity. It cannot go to the owner first. Plus, the money contributed reduces income, but cannot then be claimed as a charitable donation (if you itemize)—since that would result in a double deduction.

For more information on how to donate your IRA RMD to the United Way of Kent County and the benefits that brings to Kent County, please contact Executive Director Beth Everett at 410-778-3195 or email her at

Glenn L. Wilson, President
United Way of Kent County

PFLAG Mid-Shore Hosts Transgender Day of Remembrance November 18


PFLAG Mid-Shore (Chestertown and Easton) and Washington College will be hosting its annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, as it continue its mission to build on a foundation of loving families united with LGBTQ people and allies who support one another until all hearts and minds respect, value and affirm LGBTQ people.

PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays ) is a national organization that provides peer support through advocacy, education and public speaking. PFLAG’s is made up of and acts as the extended families , as well as unites families and allies with people who are in our LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning) community.

Sunday, November 18
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Norman James Theatre 
Washington College