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2016 Inductees Announced

The Cumberland County Women’s Hall of Fame, Inc. will induct three women into the Hall at its annual gala event in April 2016. They are:

Dr. Deborah Ayars, Vineland. She was the first and only female County Engineer in New Jersey and was a leader in bringing new technologies to Cumberland County such as thermoplastic line striping and liquid salt. She served as Township Engineer in Hopewell and Fairfield Townships and she founded A-TECH Engineering, an engineering, surveying and planning firm in Cumberland County. She worked on such major projects as the Walt Whitman and Ben Franklin bridges and reconstructing the main runway at the Atlantic City Airport. And she developed an innovative design for a recycling center in Hopewell Township that has been a model for other communities throughout New Jersey. She mentors female and male engineering students, is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and was named Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of the South Jersey Pines. Each Thursday she takes prayers and communion to the military veterans at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home in Vineland.

Jean K. Nocon, Dividing Creek. She was responsible for restoration and preservation of Union Hall in Dividing Creek and was instrumental in saving the town’s Post Office. A long-time preservationist and historian, she published “King Farms and Beyond,” a history of a way of life in Dividing Creek. Widowed at a young age, she raised her 10-year-old son as a single mother, was Vice President of the Downe Township Board of Education for nine years and was instrumental in thwarting a movement that would have made the Board an appointed rather than elected board. She runs the family business, and is pen pals with third-grade girls at Downe Township Elementary School. She gives tours of Union Hall to third through eighth graders, and her work with the school led to her induction in 2012 into the Downe Township Elementary School Hall of Fame. Having developed a love of history during her college years, she now serves as President of the Dividing Creek Historical Society

Margaret Battle Winchester, Bridgeton. She is Founder of the Margaret Winchester Center for the Blind, which she ran for 30 years before retiring. She became blind while still in her 20s when there were no existing local programs serving the visually impaired, and her loss led her to help others. Before starting the Center, she went door to door to homes where there were blind residents, offering assistance in daily living skills. Along with a group of concerned citizens, she approached county officials and advocated for services for the blind, which led to a day-care program at the old Cumberland County Hospital. After the program moved to trailers on the hospital property for several years, she was responsible for developing modern Bridgeton center that now exists bearing her name. She was one of the early organizers of the Head Start program in Cumberland County, and she was Co-Leader of The 4-H Club for five years. She was inducted into the Cumberland County Black Hall of Fame in 1990.

“The Hall of Fame exists because there are so many women of immense accomplishment throughout Cumberland County,” said Louise T. Bertacchi, Founder and President of the Hall. “Every year we are so honored to celebrate the lives of these special women.”

The gala event honoring these three women is open to the public at Merighi’s Savory Inn in East Vineland on Wednesday, April 27, beginning at 6 p.m.. For reservations or more information, contact Louise Bertacchi at LTB431@comcast.net or Kim Litchendorf at Klitchendorf@cumberlanddairy.com, or call 856-825-5929.

The Women’s Hall of Fame honors local women of outstanding achievement who have made significant contributions to a profession, the community and/or women’s issues. The Hall also gives scholarships to young women graduating from Cumberland County’s high schools and going on to higher education.

Press questions – call Nancy Monaghan, 603-964-2651; nancymonaghan@comcast.net

Deborah Ayars – Eric Johnson
Jean Nocon – Evalinda Keen
Margaret Winchester – Misono Miller