BOARD

The Fort Miles Historical Association is managed by a very active board of directors and Executive Director Mark Chura. Many of the board members board continue to be active in their chosen professional and business lives, in addition to serving the FMHA. As you read the biographies, you will gain a sense of what drives this group of dedicated individuals to devote more than 7,500 volunteer hours annually to the growth and development of FMHA and The Fort Miles Museum.

DR. GARY WRAY, PRESIDENT

Dr. Gary Wray is a university professor of American history and a retired Cape Henlopen School District administrator. In August 2003, he co-founded Fort Miles Historical Association with Bob Frederick, David Main and Delaware State Parks historian Lee Jennings. In 2005, Gary and Lee wrote a book about Fort Miles, published by Arcadia Publishing.

Gary moved to Delaware from West Virginia and worked on improving Fort Delaware. In the 1990s, he shifted his attention to Fort Miles in Lewes. He was elected to the Delaware Historical Society board of trustees and served two terms. He was elected to the Cape Henlopen School Board, serving as vice president for one year and president for three years. During his tenure, he worked to build Cape Henlopen High School, which opened in 2010. In 2016, Gary was chosen for the Delaware Maritime Hall of Fame.

Gary’s goal is to work with others to make the Fort Miles Museum the best World War II museum inside a WWII facility in the country.

BOB FREDERICK, VICE PRESIDENT

Bob Frederick is a co-founder of FMHA and board member for more than 10 years. He was elected mayor and police commissioner in Dewey Beach. During his eight-year term as mayor, Bob was elected by the mayors of other Sussex County towns as president of the Sussex County Association of Towns and the Association of Coastal Towns. During his more than 25 years of public and private service, Bob was president of Dewey Beach Lions Club and was honored by the Lions as a Melvin Jones fellow. He served on the Community Involvement Advisory Council, appointed by the governor, and Beebe Medical Center’s Vision Campaign, which led to construction of an out-patient center. Bob has many contacts in the Delaware legislative community and raises funds for FMHA. Married for more than 25 years, he lives in Dewey Beach.

MIKE DUNKES, SECRETARY

Mike Dunkes and his wife, Joann, moved to Delaware in 1999. He spent 38 years in manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of the wood products industry. After college, Mike joined Weyerhaeuser Co., an international manufacturer of paper and wood products. He pursued other industry opportunities, culminating with a 20-year career at Ply Gem Manufacturing – PGM Products. His progress from regional manager to senior vice president required frequent travel throughout the United States, Canada, South America and Asia. The good life on the shore brought him and Joann back to Sussex County. Mike joined FMHA in 2012 after learning about the Missouri barrel project. He has enjoyed seeing the evolution of the Fort Miles Museum and witnessing the dedication and innovation of its volunteers.

LARRY BOYER, TREASURER

Larry Boyer retired from DuPont in 2011 as a chief information officer. He managed projects, implementing global IT cash management and credit solutions. He was recognized for his work in this area with a cover article in Treasury and Risk magazine, a notable industry publication. Larry also serves as board chairman for the Mental Health Association in Delaware. He is a Delaware native who vacationed as a child and adult with his family at First State beaches. Larry recalls watching targets being pulled over the ocean while gun batteries practiced their skills. Those memories stayed with him and, after retirement, Larry volunteered as a Bunker Buster to help restore Fort Miles. He became a board officer and serves as treasurer, using his skills to help FMHA realize its goal of creating a world-class WWII museum.

JOE JOHNSON, ASSISTANT TREASURER

Joe Johnson is owner of Shore Electric. He holds a master electrician’s license in Delaware and in Cecil, Montgomery, and Anne Arundel counties in Maryland. Joe moved from Claymont, Del., to Lewes in 1979. He has a longtime interest in Cape Henlopen State Park and the fort. In 2006, he joined FMHA and has dedicated time, expertise and materials to help restore Battery 519 and add lighting to the Artillery Park. Joe and his wife, Karla, have extensively explored the buildings and bunkers that made up Fort Miles during World War II. When working on his initial project to restore light and power to Battery 519, Joe began to look toward the vision of opening the Fort Miles Museum, which occurred in 2016. He looks forward to further development of the museum as an FMHA board member. Joe and Karla live in Milton, Del.

FRANK ALI, GIFT SHOP COORDINATOR

Frank learned about Fort Miles in fall 2012 from FMHA board member Bob Fellows. Bob explained the Fort Miles football analogy, telling how the fort’s fire control towers were like the eyes of a quarterback throwing a pass to a receiver. Men in the towers identified enemy ships that were targeted by the fort’s gun batteries. Bob took Frank and his wife, Catherine, on a tour of Battery 519 and described the restoration work of the Bunker Busters. Frank joined FMHA on the spot and later became a board member.

Frank is an Army veteran who commanded an engineer company at Fort Belvoir. He was an intelligence research officer at Fort Monmouth and helped develop the first generation of night-vision devices for combat troops in Vietnam. During his civilian career, Frank owned and operated hardware stores and restaurants, managed facilities and developed residential subdivisions.

MERLIN BEIL, BOARD MEMBER

Merlin Beil is a longstanding FMHA board member who was stationed at Fort Miles in 1957 and 1958, assigned to the 42nd Detachment RECAT (Remote Controlled Aerial Targets). He  developed a love for Fort Miles and the area. He and his wife purchased a summer home in Lewes in 1976 and moved to Lewes in 1993 after his retirement. Merlin adds a quiet, dignified presence to the FMHA board.

BEV DALECKI, WALL OF HONOR COORDINATOR

A native Delawarean, Bev grew up in North Wilmington and retired from DuPont International Marketing in Textile Fibers after 38 years. Her love of Fort Miles formed at an early age when her father was stationed at the fort from 1942 to 1946. He was involved with the design of the Fort Miles fire control towers. Bev, a self-proclaimed “Army brat,” moved to Fenwick with her husband after retirement. She became an FMHA board member shortly after the organization was founded. Her family was involved in the clean-up of the barracks, officers’ building and the bunker. Bev also helped develop the FMHA Wall of Honor, where families can honor soldiers who served at Fort Miles and veterans who served in U.S. wars and conflicts. She regularly attends re-enactor weekends, craft shows, Coast Day and open houses.

CLIFF GEISLER, ART GALLERIES COORDINATOR

Cliff is a retired federal employee with more than 30 years of experience in police, security and investigative work. He was employed by six agencies during his career, including the Supreme Court of the United States and the Office of the Naval Inspector General. Cliff is a native of the Washington, D.C., area and holds two degrees in military history from University of Maryland. He built a home in Lewes in 1992 and moved there full time after his retirement in 2007. In addition to his association with Fort Miles, he continues to do security consulting and contracting with the U.S. government.

JOE KOSAVEACH, RESTORATION

Joe Kosaveach has been a board member since 2005. He worked for 34 years at Citizens Bank of Maryland in suburban D.C. as assistant treasurer, custodian of records and security investigator. He worked concurrently as a Prince George’s County municipal police offer for 20 of those years. From 1955 to 1963, Joe was in the Navy, attaining the rank of CTPO3 and serving as a communications technician. He very much enjoys donning his whites and blues and conducting public and private tours at Fort Miles to tell the fort’s place in history.

He and Etta, his wife of 53 years, retired to Lewes in 1992. Although you never finish a restoration, Joe has fully restored their 1898 late Queen Anne Victorian home on Savannah Road. He brings building and planning experience to Fort Miles projects.

Joe is a Bunker Buster. He has restored two WWII underwater mines, the M-3 and the M-4, displayed in the North Gun Room. With Joe Johnson and John Roberts, he helped restore the 1942 Sperry 60” Searchlight. With Joe Johnson, Keith Donahue and Fred Noll, he restored the Flak 38, 20mm AA gun from U-853. He recently added the 16-inch gun to this list.

JIM PIERCE, COMMUNICATIONS

Jim Pierce is a former Army field artillery officer. He became interested in Fort Miles after taking a tour in 2010. He says: “Fort Miles is important to me because of the authentic nature of the museum that has been created, and the historical and educational value the Fort Miles Museum brings to the state of Delaware.” During a 40-year career, Jim held several senior management banking and commercial finance positions. He also was executive director of a London-based merchant bank and a managing director of a U.S.-based private equity firm. In 2008, Jim formed a successful consultancy practice, which has helped more than 50 clients obtain financing for their businesses. Jim lives in Millsboro, Del.

JOHN ROBERTS, BUNKER BUSTERS COORDINATOR

John Roberts is a leader of the Bunker Busters. He describes his history with Fort Miles. “I am a native Delawarean. I’ve been coming to the beaches here my entire life. I had an uncle in the Army, a colonel at Aberdeen Proving Ground and other facilities around the world. His family would vacation at Fort Miles when it was the recreational facility of Fort Meade.

“At the time, the fort’s WWII activities had ended only 20 years earlier and nearly everything was still there, except for the artillery. When I was old enough to drive, I would visit Cape Henlopen State Park and explore … being careful to leave no evidence of my presence. I did this for many years. After a lucrative career in the semiconductor industry, I retired in 2008. Some years earlier, I met Lee Jennings, who was then the historian for Delaware State Parks, and was excited about the creation of the Fort Miles Museum. Looking for something to do, I took the initiative of working on our searchlight and later drying out its parking place, Battery 519. One thing led to another, and soon we had a following. The rest, as they say, is history. I am most proud of attracting an incredible array of talented people. We would be lost without these fine volunteers. It will be even more exciting to see what tomorrow brings.”

WILL SHORT, DOCENT COORDINATOR

Will is a veteran of the US Navy Submarine Service. He made seven deterrent patrols on the USS Ethan Allen, SSBN608, and was in the new construction crew of the USS Philadelphia, SSN690, which was the first Los Angeles class submarine built by Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, CT. Following his 11 ½ year Navy career, Will spent 25 years as a field engineer, manager and executive for several different technical services firms serving the commercial power industry and the Department of Energy. In 2002 he made a career change and went to work in the Clerk’s office at the DC US District Court and then migrated to the risk management department at Well Fargo. In 2008 Will and his wife, Carol, moved from Frederick, MD to Lewes, DE when he was hired as the Chief Financial Officer of a local business services firm. Will retired in 2014 and began looking for volunteer opportunities in Sussex County. After a visit to the Battery 519 Schroeder Art Room with Abraxus Hudson, Will was given a tour of the entire Fort Miles Museum. When told that volunteers had done all the restoration work inside Battery 519 as well as to the barracks buildings, Will was hooked and knew he wanted to help with the Museum’s evolution. He started as a Bunker Buster in 2016 and was later recruited as a Docent by Mike Dunkes.

STAFF

MARK CHURA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Mark Chura is principal of Chura and Associates, a professional consulting firm that focuses on community revitalization, governmental affairs, capital campaign management and public/private land development projects. Chura and Associates was founded in 2007. Recent work in Lewes, Delaware includes master planning, developing community/ governmental support and funding, and construction management services for the City of Lewes and Lewes Public Library.

As a consultant to Horizon Philanthropic Services, his work focuses on capital campaign management, project management, strategic planning, operational and business plan development and grant writing for organizations throughout Sussex County. Mark previously served on the board and as executive director of Delaware Greenways, a nonprofit organization focused on scenic corridor preservation, context-sensitive land use planning, trail and greenway development and community wellness initiatives.

He worked as director of project management for Ocean Atlantic Associates, and served for many years as a senior administrator in Delaware’s state park system. In his state role, Mark managed Delaware’s public land acquisition program, park construction projects, and municipal grant programs.

Boards
Board member, East Coast Greenway Trail Committee
Board member, Lewes Rehoboth Canal Improvement Association
Colonial School District’s Career & Technical Education Advisory Council.

Education
B.S. Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Delaware
Masters of Public Administration, University of Delaware