On this page we have the sad duty to memorialize a fellow member that has departed this earthly station for the very last time. Though they will never ride with us again at the Whippany Railway Museum, we fondly remember them here. We celebrate the brief time we had, and acknowledge the legacy that they leave in our care. May the gauge be straight and true, every semaphore be white, every switch closed, and upon our scheduled time may we meet again in heaven’s station.
In Memory of
Alexander M. Hamilton
August 25, 1927 - March 13, 2017
Museum Co-Founder, Charter Member, Loyal Friend and Supporter
After a long and fulfilling life, Morris County Central Railroad Museum (and by extension, Whippany Railway Museum) Co-Founder & Charter Member Alexander M. Hamilton passed away at 89 years of age, Monday, March 13th... two years to the day that his wife Dot passed away in 2015.
Al's steadfast support in championing desires of many young people to be a part of the then blossoming Morris County Central RR (MCC) was one of his many hallmarks. Al, amicable and always ready to patiently respond to a question he'd most likely given the answer to dozens of times before was by far one of the greatest assets the MCC ever had. His hard work, enthusiasm and support of MCC founder and president Earle Gil earned him the respect of everyone at the MCC. Al generally was the first to go to bat for any young interested teen who wanted to be a part of preserving steam railroading in northern New Jersey.
Earle Gil always thought very highly of Al and his dedication to the Morris County Central. When Al and his family moved to New Hampshire at the end of 1971, Earle immediately felt the loss of such a valuable friend and associate. As the years rolled into decades, Earle would occasionally comment that the MCC seemed to begin its decline after Al moved away.
In the year in 2000, Al wrote down his thoughts about the MCC and his words were included in the WRyM's newsletter of the era, "Along The Whippanong" , some of them appear below:
"Hardly a day passes without thinking of the Morris County Central and the many people we came to know as friends. There are many reminders around our home, and I am sure that the Conway Scenic (NOTE: the Conway Scenic mainline runs right behind Al & Dot's former residence in Conway, NH) has some effect as well.
I became aware of Earle Gil and his dream because of my interest in railroading. I became involved as a volunteer in 1965. I knew little of the mechanics or operation involved in steam locomotives or railroads for that matter, but I did know how to use a paint brush and was willing to push a broom. These talents were needed and appreciated. My reward was in the satisfaction and contributing to the realization of the railroad and in the association with all who were involved directly or indirectly.
In time I was offered the opportunity to become a stockholder in the Railroad. This unexpected turn of events led to direct involvement with the operation and management. I was REALLY a part of it... what more could you ask for ? I was able to utilize my trade skills as a press mechanic and pressman in the design and production of the printing needs of the MCC.
The souvenir shop opened as a combined museum / shop which was operated by my wife, Dot. With considerable research and effort, the "Railroad Shanty Gift Shop" blossomed into a local mecca for railfans as well as a source for a memento of the day for all visitors. The shop was attractive and provided a place for visitors to pass time while waiting for their train.
I became the first director of the Morris County Central Railroad Museum (NOTE: the predecessor organization of the present-day Whippany Railway Museum). With some help from volunteers and the persistent dedication and drive of Earle Gil, the Museum did expand. I am very proud and pleased with the Whippany Railway Museum as it is today. It just gets better all the time.
Each year there were marked improvements in the operation and development of the MCC and its satellite functions, i.e. the Museum, Souvenir Shop, Snack Car, picnic grove, public facilities, etc. There was much gratification in witnessing this growth, and there is always pleasure in reminiscing about the MCC."
Al lived a good long life, and right up until his final days, he kept fairly active. Now Al has joined all the other MCC veterans that have gone before... it is so sorrowful to see all our heroes and heroines pass, one after another, year after year.
Rest In Peace, Al... such a good, kind friend and gentle man.
In Memory of
Charles G. Berkemeyer
Historian, Museum Trustee, & Loyal Friend
June 7, 1938 - January 24, 2017
After a long battle with lung cancer, our good friend and Whippany Railway Museum trustee Charles G. Berkemeyer passed away Tuesday, January 24th at about 11:30AM.
Charlie has been cremated and his ashes will be laid alongside his beloved wife Cyndi during a private family ceremony. Charlie had missed Cyndi terribly after her passing in October 2004... her death just seemed to take all of the wind out of his sails. When he himself became ill some years ago, all he wanted to do was to be with Cyndi. Now, they are both together again.
Charlie was a great friend to all, and he was one of the most caring individuals anyone would ever meet. His knowledge on ALL things (not just railroads) was absolutely amazing. While he could be passionately opinionated on certain subjects (like politics !), he'd argue with you with a great wink and nod... always letting you know that all was still friendship, no matter the issues. He was ALWAYS quick with a hearty laugh, a grand smile, and a fatherly pat on the back.
Charlie's contributions to the Whippany Railway Museum are immeasurable. Always ready to share parts of his immense collection of memorabilia, many Museum exhibits over the years were enhanced by outstanding examples of Charlie's artifacts.
His carpentry skills were beyond compare. He was meticulous in simply everything he did. Many of us will remember his van, loaded down with tools of all shapes, sizes and vintage. The man was an absolute classic. We won't see his like again.
What many Museum members and visitors will remember about Charlie is his grand portrayal of Santa Claus during the WRyM Santa Claus Special trains. Charlie was our very first Santa in 1991... and if you ask ANYONE who came into contact with Charlie during those rides... he WAS Santa... there was NO doubt about it. Here was Santa in real life ! Charlie was an absolute HUGE hit with the crowds. He certainly looked the part and when he eventually grew in his own beard, he amazed the kids and adults alike. Every time you turned around, you could hear people say, "That guy is the REAL Santa Claus !" Charlie was always very proud of how much people enjoyed seeing him as Santa, and he put his heart and soul into each and every performance. Cyndi always made sure that "Santa" was well groomed and "watered" prior to each trip... she was just as an important part of the event as Charlie was.
Entering the later-1990's, Charlie began having health issues which ultimately prevented him from being our Santa any longer as the long days and great effort became extremely grueling for him. You could just see the sadness in Charlie's eyes when he could no longer don the Santa suit... but being the resourceful guy that he was, Charlie eventually came to the Museum site dressed as "Santa's Locomotive Engineer, Charlie Claus" and he would entertain the children as they awaited the arrival of their train.
It was Christmastime 2004... not very long after Cyndi had passed away. We took Charlie to see the newly-released movie, "The Polar Express". We figured it might brighten Charlie's spirits just a bit. As we sat in the darkened theater, we could tell that Charlie was enjoying the movie immensely. After the film ended and we walked back to the car to take Charlie home, he said, "I can still hear the bell..." If you've read the book or have seen the movie, you'll know exactly what Charlie meant when he uttered those words.
The time has now come for Charlie to be on his way to a better life... but the memories will always remain of a loyal friend and a kind and gentle soul.
Rest in Peace, Charlie... you were well loved.
In Memory of
Joan R. Terry
Museum Charter Member & Dear Friend
October 11, 1942 - September 24, 2015
A Memorial Celebration is being held today (Oct. 11th) for Whippany Railway Museum Charter Member Joan Terry who passed away on September 24th after a long illness.
Joan along with her husband, noted artist John Terry, ran the "Railroad Shanty Gift Shop" at the Morris County Central Railroad from 1972 through 1980. Joan was also a Board member of the Morris County Central Railroad, Inc. As a Charter Member of WRyM, she was a great supporter of our many restoration projects, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Joan was an extremely friendly and active person, involved with all manner of interests. She was kind to everyone she came into contact with and she helped countless people through her volunteering and charitable works both in New Jersey and West Virginia.
Joan will be greatly missed by all of us at the Whippany Railway Museum, and we send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to her family.
In Memory of
Thomas E. Hodupski
Museum Member, Trustee, & Loyal Friend
December 21, 1950 – February 7, 2015
The Whippany Railway Museum has lost one of its greatest supporters with the passing of long-time member and Trustee, Tom Hodupski.
Tom wholeheartedly enjoyed volunteering at the Museum and went so far as to have his home phone number end in "4039" in honor of one of our steam locomotives. In 1994 when the Museum needed funds to purchase that locomotive, he was there to provide a bridge loan, which was a very kind and generous gesture on Tom's part. He didn't want people to know of this action, but everyone should be aware of the huge part he played in helping No. 4039 come home to Whippany.
Tom also championed the building, maintenance, and operation of the Museum's outdoor G-Scale train layout, which will soon be renamed in his memory. Tom could be found outside operating the model trains in all kinds of weather for the enjoyment of our visitors... young and old alike.
A kind and gentle soul with a heart of gold, Tom will be greatly missed by all those who were lucky enough to call him Friend.
Rest in Peace Dear Tom, we really cared for you and we were always so appreciative of your kindness and steadfast support.
In Memory of
John A. Snogans
Museum Member, Railroader, Friend
January 25, 1952 - August 14, 2013
A Friend like John comes along but once in a lifetime... Those of us who knew him from both the Whippany Railway Museum and the Morris County Central Railroad have all benefited from his knowledge, compassion and zest for life.
Our lives have been forever changed for the best through our friendship with this unique and gentle man.
Rest In Peace Good Friend.