This past September, Ron Orchard told the trustees of the Hendricks Hill Museum that in 2019, he would not be available to open and close the museum and be on hand whenever the museum is open. He will continue as the chairman of the trustees but will be at the museum in 2019 only as often as he wishes.
A little arithmetic leads to a most impressive result: The museum has been open 3 days/week for 9 weeks/year for 30 years. This comes out to a grand total of 810 days! Thus, since 1988 when the Museum first opened, Ron has put up the flag and taken it down every day for a total of more than two years. And he has not missed one of those days!
His historical interest and tenacity is shown clearly in the vast genealogy tree that he made and which is displayed in the Marr Room of the museum. Two Marr brothers from Georgetown married two Pierce sisters from Southport about 1800, and later a Marr sister married a Pierce brother, thus further uniting the two families. The tree records this development for about 200 years.
In 1998, the Newagen post office was closed. As the authorities were about to dismantle the office and load the postal equipment into a truck, Ron approached them and asked if the town could have it. Thus it was that we have the Post Office Room at the museum with post boxes and wanted posters intact. Prior Southport postmasters include Ron’s great-grandfather, Edward Everett Pinkham, his grandfather, Charlie Pinkham and his mother, Harriet Orchard. The Newagen post office was frequently staffed by both Ron’s wife, Ralva and daughter, Marie.
If you have voted in Southport over any of the last 20 years, your ballot was provided by Ralva as she checked the voting rolls. Later the ballot has been carefully received by Ron as he deposits it in the old locked wooden ballot box or, in recent years, fed it into the machine which electronically records the results. Ralva passed away this year but we are confident that she swells with pride for Ron and is truly with us.
His knowledge is complemented by his eagerness to share that knowledge with museum visitors. No one has visited the museum under his guidance without a lasting memory of the experience. He is sensitive to the visitors’ interest and answers their questions, while being sure that nobody misses the details of the collection.
How best to honor such outstanding service? The selectmen, the trustees of the museum and the Friends of the Southport Historical Society have unanimously agreed to rename the museum’s Reference Room as the Ronald Orchard Room in honor of Ron. The following is the text of the plaque that will hang at the museum:
The Ronald Orchard Room
Born on Southport Island
Grandson of storekeepers Charles and Izetta Pinkham
Lifelong student of Southport history
Naval veteran of the Korean War
Chairman of the Museum Trustees
Museum guide beyond compare
Ron is our greatest asset.
This room is named in his honor
June 10, 2019