Former Cumberland County Comissioner Rosemarie C. Peiffer
Today, we are gathered here to honor two exceptional people: Howard and Rose Peiffer, my close friends for almost fifty years. I miss them! Tall and handsome, Howard Peiffer, from Reading, Pennsylvania, graduated from Albright College and earned a PhD from Pennsylvania State University. After a sojourn of seven years in Baltimore, he was recruited by AMP to develop a metallurgy laboratory, and moved to New Cumberland. He was quite successful and rose in the ranks of management, so that at the time of his retirement he held the position of Senior Vice President of Global Technology. My friend, Howard, was a true renaissance man. He was a gemologist, metallurgist, horticulturist, forester and all-around intellectual. I do not ever recall him being uncomfortable in discussing current events, politics, or almost any other subject. He was a recognized authority in his chosen profession and often was called upon as an expert witness. He held professorial appointments at Penn State-Middletown and was a Visiting Professor at Beijing Polytechnic University in China.
Beautiful and charming, Rose was raised on a farm in Schuylkill County and considered herself a “simple farm girl”. She trained at the Reading Hospital and was a licensed Registered Nurse, but aspired to a career in medicine. Accepted at one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country, the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City she gave up that career in favor of a life and family with Howard. But she was no simple farm girl! With her children grown, she developed an interest in politics and was elected to the New Cumberland Boro Council -for the right reason- she wanted to contribute to her community. I remember her telling me that she returned a holiday turkey sent by a local contractor who did business with the boro. Not for her!
She then decided to run for Cumberland County Commissioner in 1979 and was the first woman ever elected to that office. After one term, she chose not to seek re-election – also for the right reason. She was paired with seemingly corrupt co-commissioners of the opposing party and felt that she would be tainted if she continued in that position. We spent many hours struggling with that dilemma and her integrity was always paramount. Being in their company was always a pleasure. One always had the feeling that it was time well-spent.
Rose, and Howard, repeatedly expressed a desire to contribute to the community and a love for the land. They served on multiple high-level Boards, task forces, committees and commissions. But not as well known is that they made a major financial contribution to establish two scholarships at Penn State University, one in Agriculture and one in Material Sciences. They also funded an annual 4-H award in Cumberland County, and set up 4H endowments in Carbon and Schuylkill Counties. Their homestead abuts this property. There, they created a two acre mini Garden of Eden, by planting interesting trees, shrubs and flowers. Howard had a greenhouse appended to their home where he grew a large variety of orchids. This Arboretum is designed for the education and pleasure of the community and is a gem in the heart of Cumberland County, available to all. Howard and Rose were a beacon. Its three most prominent rays were always integrity, loyalty and community… goals to which we all might aspire.
I am certain that Howard and Rose are somewhere smiling and proud at today’s events. David is the apple which has not fallen far from the tree. It is his vision we see here today, helped by his sons, Daniel, Aelon, and Michael; and his brother, Eric. I believe I speak for his father, his mother, all of you here today, the community and myself in saying to David, “WELL DONE” and THANK YOU!
The Peiffer Memorial Arboretum and Nature Preserve, honors the legacy of Howard and Rosemarie Peiffer advocates of agriculture and land preservation in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
It is currently closed to the general public, yet available for educational purposes, special events, civic meetings, weddings and the like. Entry available with written permission. Apply via CONTACT PAGE.
Dedication and Remembrance
Remarks by Dr. Michael Geduldig
August 5, 2018
Dr. Howard R. Peiffer
Michael Peiffer is hugging a 300 year old Sycamore tree probably planted around 1773 by settler William Black.