Bill Cole Is Volunteer Of The Year

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is pleased to announce William “Bill” Cole as volunteer of the year for 2019.

Bill was selected by the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s board of directors from among the Museum’s corps of more than 150 active volunteers for this honor. An eight-year member of the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, he originally picked up a volunteer application while he was visiting the Museum. With railroading as his hobby, Bill says it seemed a perfect fit.

Bill reveals that he has been a model railroader since age five when he received a Lionel train for Christmas, and has had layouts in both O gauge and HO gauge. He currently has a four-foot by eight-foot O scale layout that he maintains in his home. He describes it as electronics heavy and automated for the 21st century. Bill also previously enjoyed building computers in their early days.

Bill generally volunteers in the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania archives one day a week, scanning and cataloguing photo collections and preparing documents and photos for sale. He also works one day a week on the Pennsylvania Landscapes operating HO model train layout in Stewart Junction railway education center, rewiring and maintaining the layout and installing DCC decoders in locomotives.

“I really enjoy the environment with the staff and volunteers and visitors at the Museum on what I call Wacky Wednesdays and Fridays,” he laughs. “It’s wonderful to work with a world-class collection of railroad photographs and artifacts, and to show visitors, especially the little kids, the details of the museum-quality Pennsylvania Landscapes layout.” Bill additionally serves on the IT committee and volunteers during various Museum events like Rails & Ales and the Garden Railways Tour.

“There are all kinds of interesting and multi-faceted things to do in the Museum,” he asserts. “It’s a pleasure and a challenge to keep the Pennsylvania Landscapes layout running. In the archives, just one collection, the Harris collection for example, consists of 13,000 photos that need to be scanned, catalogued, housed and prepared for upload to the Museum website. We can always use more skilled people to volunteer in all areas,” Bill adds.

A Minnesota native, Bill graduated from the University of Minnesota and worked for R. R. Donnelley & Sons commercial printing for 43 years alternately in sales and quality control, and as a job engineer and an account manager. He and his wife Cathy reside in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and have two children and four grandchildren.

“Quiet and unassuming, Bill is one of those volunteers who throws himself wholeheartedly into his tasks, “ says Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania director Patrick C. Morrison. “He is a wise and dependable utility player who can fill a variety of roles at the Museum. Bill goes wherever he is needed most, to serve our guests and to help the Museum achieve its overall mission. He’s a natural problem-solver and a very capable leader with a positive attitude and a strong work ethic.”

Bill will be formally recognized as the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s volunteer of the year by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission at a ceremony in Harrisburg on Saturday, April 27, 2019 and during the Museum’s annual Members Day banquet at The Willows At Historic Strasburg on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Congratulations, Bill!