ROW Newsletter - February 2023
Dear ROW Members –
Our next membership meeting will be February 8 at the Pilot House. 6:00 Social Hour, 7:00 Business Meeting. See you there!
Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner
Here’s your chance to say a personal thank you to Wilmington Police Department officers and New Hanover County deputies that keep our city and the Historic District safe. Mark your calendars for February 15 at 6:00, St. Mary’s School Cafeteria at the corner of Ann and South 4th Street. Bring a dish to share. This group loves to eat so please make a large version of whatever you’re bringing. Let’s make sure to turn out for this event. These officers have said several times that we’re the only ones that thank them for their service.
We’ll need volunteers to set up, clean up and monitor the food through the evening. Thank you to Jan Peelle who is leading this event. Please email her at to volunteer and to tell her what kind of a dish you’re bringing.
A welcome and blessing will begin at 6:00. Please bring your food dishes between 5:30 – 6:00.
Firefighters Luncheon
Maria Vargas is leading this annual appreciation luncheon in March. This event is held at the fire house at Market and 9th Street and is a smaller crowd than the Law Enforcement Dinner. The firemen are so appreciative of what we do for them and this is a fun event to work on. Updates to follow in the next newsletter and many thanks to Maria.
The 2023 Back-Door Kitchen Tour Is A Go
After a 3-year absence due to Covid, the Kitchen Tour is on for October 14th. Dave Hendrickson is chairing this event and will be updating us with information and opportunities to volunteer.
If you would like to open up your home for the tour or have suggestions for sponsors, please email Dave at The tour is one day only and the tours are for the downstairs of homes.
There are two new links on the ROW website regarding BDKT Sponsorships. (It’s a tab on the home page marked BDKT 2023.) One is a Sponsorship Letter and the other is a Sponsorship Program Letter to use when talking with a business you have a relationship with. Please check this out.
New Slate For Board Positions
We have 5 positions on the board opening up and our Search Committee has done a wonderful job in choosing members to fill these spots. We will vote on the slate at our March 8th membership meeting.
The slate is as follows:
Officers for 1 year
President – Denis McGarry
Vice President – Maria Vargas
Treasurer – Dave Hendrickson
Secretary – Karen Day
Directors for 2 years
Grants Chair – Jackson Sims
IT Chair – Roberta Petrin
Assistant Membership Chair – Denny Honaker
Liz Townsend, Membership Chair, is not on the slate because she is a Director having served 1 year and will continue to serve the second year of her term.
I, Mary Grace, am not part of the slate because in accordance with our bylaws, I will continue on the board as Emeritus/Advisor.
Changes To Our Bylaws
During Covid, it came to the Board’s attention that ROW’s bylaws - originally written in the 70’s – were in need of updating. A committee was formed with Darla Hamby, Phoebe Bragg and Dave Hendrickson. Revisions were made dealing with remote meetings and raising the amount of money the board can spend without membership approval (from $500 to $1,000). Additionally, language was added allowing flexibility on the timing of changes in dues. The committee then consulted legal counsel from Sylvia Kochler to ensure these revisions were within state laws governing non-profits.
Copies of the revised bylaws will be provided at the February 8th meeting.
Welcome To Our Newcomers
We’re so pleased to have the following people recently join our ROW community:
Leslie and Tim Donovan from Asheville
Laura and Jim Lundy from Erie, PA
We look forward to meeting you and hope that you will volunteer for some of our projects and events.
What ROW Means To Me
When Ann and I moved to Wilmington in the summer of 2004, we knew no one, except our oldest son who was a student at UNCW. We purchased the house we still live in from Bob Wallen, restorer, realtor and himself a transplant from the Garden State.
Shortly after the closing, Bob mentioned to us the importance of joining ROW. He explained that ROW was our local neighborhood organization, that he had been a long time board member and thought we, as the new owners of 308 South Third St., would benefit from it as well. Not a high priority for us at the time. Bob, however, was tenacious and when the next ROW meeting rolled around he alerted us to the fact and escorted us to Tileston School where the meeting was being held. He introduced us as the new owners of his house and even paid our first year’s dues.
We had just made a life changing decision in relocating to the south and Wilmington in particular but we had no idea how much involving ourselves in ROW would also change our lives in so many profound ways. At the time of our first ROW meeting, we had met a couple of neighbors, but the relationships were still very superficial - just a wave or occasional hello was about it. But at that first ROW meeting we met maybe 25 neighbors. People were interested in where we lived - I suppose to connect us to a particular house. People began to tell us about their houses, renovations they had done or were contemplating, who they used as plumbers, electricians, etc. There was almost no discussion about where we’d come from or what we’d done in our previous lives. These folks were starting a relationship with us as of that day and going forward - not looking backward. It was a different approach than we were used to but one that we’ve come to embrace over the years.
In a short order we were involved in issues concerning our neighborhood and property, had received names and addresses of our neighbors, and were invited to social events. There was no need to search for commonality with our neighbors - the defining and uniting characteristics were that we all had chosen to buy, live in and continuously work on our old homes with the support and encouragement of each other - in other words we were all in the same boat together - it was the “ROW boat.” Maybe all of this would have happened organically over time but ROW jump started it and before we knew it we had more friends than we could “shake a stick at” and that was a good feeling. ROW helped us feel like we’re not only welcome here but that our presence matters.
Thank you, ROW and thank you, Bob Wallen.
                                                                                    Robert Erb
(Robert is a past mayor – two terms – and a board member for 9 years. His wife, Ann, has been active with ROW over the years and was chair of the annual Holiday Party for many years.)
ROW Directories
Our print version of the directory is printed every other year. We are constantly adding newcomers to the online directory and it’s easy to use. It can be found on ROW’s website,
Photos Of The Historic District
If you have some great shots of the Historic District, please share them with me ( and I’ll put them on our newly designed website. Check out the new photo album on