Penncrest High School

Biographies A-I

I've asked everyone for a little information about themselves--family, career, etc. and the responses are coming in. The entries will be posted as they are received. If you decide that you want anything changed, edited, or updated just send it along. Send your contributions to or if you prefer, mail them to:

Sandy Sorkin
3 Marquette Road
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-2625

Betsy Ammon Jefferis      (Added April 2007)

After graduation from Penncrest High School, I started working for ITT in Paoli, PA,  I worked for four years with a Dennis who I referred to as the big bear as he would pick me up and give me bear hugs at work.  My husband of 40 years is Dennis J. Jefferis.  We have been blessed with two sons, Gary - age 38 and Dennis Jr. - age 35.  Gary and Dawn have two girls, Kaylin - age 20 and Lindsey - age 17.  Dennis Jr. and Kelley have our only grandson Dennis III - age 8 and our baby Megan - age 6.  My husband and sons are electricians working in our own business for over 25 years now. (DJJ Electric)

After raising my family I started working for East Brandywine Township  Police Department, Downingtown, PA as secretary.  I attempted retiring from police work in 2001.  I stayed home two months and was so bored I now work for East Whiteland Township and Police, Frazer, PA as receptionist.  I work three days a week and love the job.  Guess I cannot get away from police work.

Since our children are grown, Dennis and I travel frequently.  We have been to Bermuda seven times just to play golf.  We also spend long weekends in Clinton County, almost into New York, at our second home/cabin.  We just relax and check out nature at the cabin.

I was diagnosed with a disease called Crohn's several years ago.  I have had many flare-ups and been sick off and on through the years.  Just last year (2006) I was diagnosed with breast cancer and just finished my treatment.  God has blessed me with the cancer being caught in the early stages, so I am sure my life will be long and much more fun.

I am looking forward to our 45th class reunion.  Hope to see all of you there.

Donna Clark Baldino

The first time I layed eyes on Frankie Baldino he stood next to a white caddy in the first parking place on Passyunk Avenue for patrons of South Philly's Melrose Diner. He was handsome and enormously self assured, why wouldn't he be, he had backing, family (if you know what I mean). That was 1963 and by 1983 not much had changed in South Philly and I saw Frankie for the last time next to a white caddy in the first parking place on Passyunk Avenue for the patrons of the Melrose - still handsome but very dead in a pool of his own blood. His family had failed to protect him. I only saw this scene in the Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News and on channel 6, nightly news. Frankie wasn't my husband, just a distant cousin of my husband, Ron, who I only wished had been caught in the crossfire. He too lived life on the edge, but never wanted to get involved with the Frankie or the Sheikie Baldinos, never packed (or I would have ended up dead, instead of just punched or half-smothered or dragged down the stairs).

I lost Ron the American way; that is, many restraining orders, harassment charges, failure to pay child support and a divorce. I remarkably went on to make a new and completely different life for myself and our two sons. No more gambling debts, no more calls from or to bookies in the middle of the night. No more drunks & addicts (him or his friends). As always it's the kids who suffer the most, but the oldest (now 35) was a fine student and Nat'l Merit Scholarship winner in "80. He went to BU (communications & Film). The younger son was sent to a private school to save him from the Philadelphia School System who in 1983 still didn't have a clue about learning disabilities. He did pretty well for someone with so little help and is in the alum siding/window & door business. In '81 I entered Temple U communications/theater, spent a semester in London '85 and finished in 86 with a broad knowledge of all phases of plays' production, a fair number of journalism & photojournalism credits and minor in English. I studied Photography at the Central School of design, London & 20th C English Literature at the University of London. I did some slave labor for Bristol Old Vic Co. and was giving tours of the theatre's at Stratford Upon Avon when I decided to apply to York U, Toronto for Directing, was accepted but couldn't get the funding that year, so since I'd worked for the City of Philadelphia starting in 1968 until 1985, I returned there to The Free Library of Philadelphia as an assistant and enrolled in Drexel U for my MLS degree. Since 1987 I've worked as a reference librarian in Database searching (BRSDow J, Dialog, Vutext (since eaten up by Knight-Ritter, Dialog too), Datatimes. All before any of us knew about the internet. I traveled all over to international and national Online Conventions. The FLP is a US govt. depository for information and I searched patents & trademarks and went to Washington for their updates and workshops. In '90 I was a recorder for the issue of Preservations at the Whitehouse Conference on Libraries. For years my library has sent me to the Assaj; which is an international association of the directors, producers and administrators of children's theatres. That has been since 1992 when I spent four years as a childrens' specialist with focus on book- talks storytelling and dramatic, musical, & puppet productions. (Next year's Norway) I work now in a very similar capacity but working with young people 14 through 19. Next year at age 55 and with 30 years service I can retire, or stick around 'til 2003 and collect 80% of my current salary. I'm just going to change careers, I've been working towards a second Masters in Psychology in the area of Psychodrama. Good luck to Cynthia having her book published. I know someone who has had her book of stories for children published recently and I know a women in NYC with Oxford University Press (but she was with a smaller publisher before she changed jobs, and that house did publish children's books), I'll talk to these two if and when she would like me to do so. Just tell C.H. to e-mail me at my library.


Nancy Dingman-Cobb

Hello to the Penncrest Class of 1963!!

Every once and a while, for the last 37 years, I have thought about you and wondered what you were doing and how nice it would be to get back in touch with you.  When my family moved to Florida after my sophomore year at Penncrest I gradually lost contact with everyone, but my heart always stayed with the Penncrest Class.  I always wished I had graduated with you.  Thanks to the wonders of the internet, a high-school alumni web site and the diligence of Paul Gibson, I have made contact with you and have hopes that at least a few of you remember me.

The last 37 years have been filled with the usual twists and turns and bumps in the road but like all of you, I have survived!!  I graduated from high school in Jacksonville, FL.  Those last two years of high school were not especially happy ones and I was glad to leave that school behind.  I attended Stetson University in Deland, FL but never graduated. Instead, after being in love for two years, I got married and moved to the campus of the University of the South in Sewanee, TN with my new husband.  There on the top of the mountain where "Sewanee"
is situated, we are somewhat isolated and seemed to miss a  lot of the turmoil going on the in the rest of the Country ......strange huh? Our first daughter Elizabeth, was born at Sewanee.  After graduation we moved to Chicago where we lived for two years, (yes, we were there during the Democratic Convention riots).  My husband worked for an insurance company where he wore a white shirt to work everyday and was learning to be a computer systems engineer.  That was in the days when your employer trained you in computers, wild huh??  I on the other hand became a bit of a 'hippie mom'!! Long straight hair, love beads, 'Jesus sandals', tie-dyed everything! We had a son that was born at this time, but he only lived to the age of 6 months before he died.  It was a very trying time for all concerned.  When we had an opportunity to move to Atlanta, GA we took it and I have lived in Atlanta ever since.  Our second daughter, Caitlin, was born after we had been in Atlanta for about two years.  I was a stay at home mom for many years, although I did go back to school and attempt to get an undergraduate degree.  I decided after a few semesters that my children needed me to be at home more than I needed that degree, so I dropped out again this time with no regrets.  I also got my real-estate license and tried my hand at selling houses but decided after a few years that that was not really my cup of tea.  So I continued doing the 'Mom thing' and playing a lot of tennis.  In 1984, my life changed dramatically.  In the course of a few short months, I bought a gift store with a friend for a partner, then my mother died after battling breast cancer for two years and my husband of 20 years decided he didn't want to be married anymore.  It took a few years to regain my equilibrium after all those changes, but I decided to change my name back to Cobb.  So I hyphenated my mother's maiden name, Dingman, with my maiden name and become Dingman-Cobb.  I bought out my gift store partner after two years and kept my store going until 1995.  That year, I sold my store and the house I had lived in for 23 years and moved to a condo on the other side of Atlanta.  Caitlin lived in Paris for a year during College and in Japan for two years after College.  Today she is the webmaster for and last year she renovated and moved into an older house in the city.  Elizabeth graduated from College with a degree in biology and chemistry.  Today she is a massage therapist with her own practice and she teaches anatomy and massage at two of the massage schools here in Atlanta.  I know this is way too long, but hopefully not too boring.  Anytime any of you are in Atlanta, please call me.  I am a great tour guide and we have some terrific restaurants here where we can meet. 

Phone/fax : 770 579-9880

Email : I would love to hear from anyone who remembers me or for that matter, anyone who doesn't remember me!!  Thanks for reading, Nancy. 

Elaine M. Castagna

I grew up near Gradyville in a house that my father had built.  I also have two brothers.  Left there in 1964 to go to Business school in Philadelphia.  Lived on 8th & Pine Street for 9 years in Catholic house named St. Regis.  I have met a lot of foreign people there.  I worked at the Philadelphia Credit Bureau, Curtis Publishing Company, Aetna Insurance Company, and John Wanamaker.

I'm on disability now.  I went to Business school again.  I made a lot of my clothes and fixed clothes.

My parents live in Florida now.  My father likes to cook and my mother still sews.  Right now, I have lived with my boyfriend Joe since 1973.  We met in Philadelphia and we have always helped each other.

Bobb Courtman

My wife, Riki and I have been married for almost 11 years. We have two gorgeous, beautiful and healthy daughters (Jayme 10 and Jessye 5). Attended two Hanson concerts this past summer. I even know Zac Hanson's birthday and his favorite color. Jayme has an "unofficial" Hanson website, Dad is kind of 'cool' because he used to be a rock drummer and knows the 'real' words to Louie Louie.

We live in the village of Verbank, NY (about 90 miles N. of NYC in the beautiful Hudson Valley). The word 'village' may be too generous a word for Verbank as our Post Office still closes for lunch everyday between 1 and 230. Whistle Stop may be a more accurate description.

Bobb has moved (10/2002) and we are waiting for the new bio.

Bobb Courtman

H. Barry Diamond

One month after graduation I enlisted in the Marine Corps, and left for Parris Island, S.C., which is the Recruit Training Center, for the Marines, on the East coast. Twelve weeks later, I graduated, and went to Camp Geiger, N.C. for infantry training. After combat training, I received a Meritorious promotion, for being one of the top Recruits in my Platoon.

In Dec. of '63 I reported to the Naval Air Training Center, in Memphis, Tenn., for eight months of Aviation training. After Fixed Wing school, I received six weeks of Helicopter training.

My next station was New River, N.C., a Marine Corps Helicopter Base. I was stationed there for only a few months, when my Squadron was sent on a six month cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. While on the cruise I started playing basketball for my ship, the USS Shadwell. We stopped at several ports in Europe, where we played against teams from other ships, and local teams in Spain, France, and Italy. Our last stop was Athens Greece, where I made the All Star team, and played against the Greek Olympic Basketball team. We lost the game, but I managed to score fourteen points against them. We all had a great time.

After Europe, we were back in New River for a few months when my squadron again received orders, this time they were for Da Nang, South Vietnam.

In Oct. of '65, our squadron arrived in Da Nang, we were there about ten days, when the Viet Cong attacked our base, and destroyed eight of our helicopters. Myself, and three of my fellow Marine Aviators, were pinned down about four hours before help could break through.  This was my first taste of combat. One month later, I receive my combat wings, and started flying. When it was my turn to come home, I had flown 250 combat missions, was shot down 3 times, received 12 Air Medals, and a Meritorious combat promotion. 

Coming home from Vietnam in 1966, was a bad experience, the war was very unpopular, and the States were full of protesters, who hated everyone in a military uniform. I had to cut my leave short so I could get back on a military base for some sanity.

I left the Marines in July of '67, and started working for Boeing Vertol's Experimental Flight Test Division. It was at this time I met my future wife, Carol. We celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary in Oct. '99.

I left Boeing in Nov.'69, and started working for Phila. Electric Co..For the first ten years I worked in Berwyn, Pa. In the transportation maintenance department. The next 15 years I worked for Conowingo Power Co. in Elkton Md., as Operations Supervisor. In December 1994 I retired.  A few weeks after retirement, Dart Bus Co. in Wilmington Del., offered me a management position, so I started a second career.

I have been blessed with three boys, Barry, age 30, Bart,29, and Bryan,25, who graduated from Shippensburg University in June of '99. Bryan plans on a flying career for the Air Force, and Barry is currently working on his private pilot license, his first step towards a commercial license.

Carol and I live in New London, southern Chester County, we have been here for eleven years, and are empty nesters. We enjoy our time together, and travel every summer or fall, on long vacations. We are planning on going to Alaska in the next few years. Back in the summer of '84, Carol and I packed up our camper and took the family for a five week tour of the US. It was quality time well spent with each other. We traveled to most of the big State Parks, like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, etc., We even took a helicopter ride over the Bad Lands of S. Dakota. My sons still talk about the "Big Vacation", they took, and hope someday to take their families on a similar trip.

My wife Carol, graduated from Nether Providence High school in Wallingford Pa. and is in business for herself. She also works part time for a furniture company in West Grove. Carol is the type of person, who can't sit still for very long, there is always something to do. I didn't realize what a great writer she is, until we were married and bought our first home. I have volumes of HONEY-DO lists. She puts up with a lot, but gets a lot of love in return.

I enjoy playing golf, Do-It-Yourself projects, and Carol and I enjoy Ballroom dancing together. We tried playing golf together, but she doesn't like carrying our golf bags. Other than Vietnam, life has been good, hard sometimes, great other times. God has blessed me. Looking forward to our next reunion.

I have a temporary E-mail address: BDiamond@DTC.DOT.STATE.DE.US

Jay Fenwick

As far as bio info, I'll celebrate my 30th year as a stockbroker this December (entered the business right out of PMC in '68). I moved to Mesa, AZ in '80 and now work for PaineWebber in Scottsdale (

I have three daughters: Amy, age 30 a school teacher in Ocean City NJ...she has blessed me with two grandchildren--Olivia age four and Mikala who just turned one. My second daughter Sara age 27, lives with me here in Mesa. She does accounting work for a chain of retail clothing stores. Finally there's little Melanie age 5 (yes Melanie became an aunt when she was 15 months old----perhaps a Penncrest '63 record)

I am in the process of getting my second divorce (no way a Penncrest '63 record I'm sure) but am optimistic about the future and am really enjoying raising little Melanie (she's a pip).

Please give everyone a big hello from me at the reunion and I pledge to make the next one----

A suggestion: why don't you try to get a list of everyone's e-mail addresses at the reunion and post them on the web site when it's up and running-----also a brief over view of how the reunion went would be a welcome feature for all of us who couldn't attend.

Thanks again for contacting me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jay (call me captfenny) Fenwick

Jacques Fox

We should have a new bio shortly.

Betty Getz Culver

35 years seems so long when you look at the number, but in reality time has really whizzed by for me! Let me try to capture the highlights of my life for you. I graduated from West Chester Un. in 1967, starting teaching in the burbs, and married my college sweetheart, Floyd Krout, in December of '67. The next few years were spent going to school for a Master's degree, camping, hiking, mt. climbing in the Rockies throughout the U.S. and Canada. Favorite places in the U.S. are Black Canyon of the Gunnison (CO), Glacier National Park (MT), and Mt. Ranier (WA).

Floyd and I were blessed with two robust sons, Byron (age 25 and a Widener Un. graduate) and Stephen (age 23 who was discharged from the U.S. Navy this year and currently enrolled at DCCC). When our sons arrived, I quit teaching and became a stay at home mom. Floyd continued teaching math at Upper Darby High School. I returned to substitute teach when Steve entered kindergarten. I loved substituting, but started back teaching full-time when our sons were in middle school. I had the opportunity to teach in a parochial school in Wilmington, Del. and then decided to return to teaching public school (the money was substantially better!).

Presently, I am teaching computer science in a K-8 school in South Philly and have been teaching in Philly for the past 10 years. I love teaching and find it both challenging, rewarding, and sometimes exhausting. On May 14, 1996, my normal existence came to a crashing halt. My beloved husband of 27 years died suddenly of a massive heart attack. It was like seeing a horror movie in front of my eyes, not being able to believe that the main character in the movie was me. One day I decided that I had to live my life to make myself happy. I had cried so much and I was being consumed by sadness I don't know when that realization came, but I guess I cried so much that there were no more tears left. So I chose to live, but of course, my normal existence was totally changed. Now instead of a couple, I was a single person. My new game plan included being with other people and keeping physically active. That winter my son & I learned to ski in the Poconos. The next winter I was skiing down Mt. Killington, VT. I took up tennis. This past spring I entered a professional/amateur tournament and actually won 3 of the 12 games. All I wanted to do was win 1! Actually was really thrilled to be there, mingling with tennis players from all over the world. Most of the players were the same age as my sons, so I was really thrilled to just be there. What have learned from my life experiences? I feel that you have many choices to take along life's road. You, and you alone, are responsible for your own happiness and contentment. I try to live each day as if it is my last! And that is why I am going to our H.S. reunion. I can't wait to see each one of you because each of you is a unique survivor. And each of you has taken many different paths through life's journey. You bet, I wouldn't miss this for the world.

Paul S. Gibson

After Penncrest, I joined the U.S. Coast Guard, basic in Cape May, NJ, really not a nice place to be in the winter. Two years aboard the CGC Owasco up and down the East coast. One year in the Bahamas ( San Salvador ) was like McHale's Navy. And then my remaining time was spent aboard the Coast Guard Tug Sauk on the Delaware river, also a piece of cake.

I married Donna J. Kinsley in July of 1968, and worked for the Post Office for a few years. Melissa, our first, was born at Riddle Memorial in 1970. I then took a job as a Draftsman for an Architect, and crossed over to construction while working as an expediter at a construction site. We moved to Delaware to be closer to work. Second daughter, Christiana, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1974.

Moved to Abingdon, VA in 1975. Worked as a Carpenter until I got a job on the then Interstate Railroad. Southern took control, then the Norfolk & Western. The merger of Southern and N&W took place in 1985. I now work for the Norfolk and Southern ( NS ).

Next we moved to Norton, VA shortly after getting the job on the railroad. I've been with the RR for 21 years. Our third daughter was born in Wise, VA in 1977. We decided that we better not make any more moves, because every time we move to a different state we have a child. We now have four GRANDCHILDREN, Kayla, Scott, Tyler and last, but not least, Cameron. It seems as though I have been just as bad as everyone else about keeping in touch with friends and classmates. This has become quite an adventure getting reacquainted to the " CLASS of 63 ". My e-mail address is It's better than the mail and cheaper than a phone call. Interests include collecting some things such as Sports cards (mostly Football and Ice Hockey) arrowheads, coins ( Roman ), Baseball hats and T-shirts to name a few. I am presently driving a '61' Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite. My wife and the two youngest daughters reside at 688 Nosler St. Norton, VA 24273 Would like to hear from all of you.

Updated on 12/11/12