Friends of Auburn Heights

The Friends of Auburn Heights is a nonprofit organization established in 2004 and dedicated to educating the public about Delaware’s industrial history and the impact of steam technology. The Friends own and maintain the Marshall family’s extraordinary collection of antique automobiles along with the Auburn Valley Railroad. To learn more, please visit our membership page.

 

MISSION

The mission of the Friends of Auburn Heights is to educate the public firsthand about an American way of life that flourished at the dawn of the automotive age, preserve the technology of historic steam transportation, and serve as advocate for Auburn Valley State Park.

The Auburn Heights estate (within Auburn Valley State Park, formerly Auburn Heights Preserve) includes the Marshall family home and carriage house listed on the National Register of Historic Places, site of the first Stanley automobile dealership in Delaware; the Marshall Steam Museum, housing a world-class collection of vintage automobiles; a 1/8-size live steam railroad operating on the property; and approximately 456 acres of surrounding park land.

To accomplish this mission, the Friends of Auburn Heights strives to:

  • Conduct educational tours of the property, collections and buildings at Auburn Heights;
  • Teach the technology of early transportation by encouraging the public to observe, inspect and experience the vintage cars and trains;
  • Initiate outreach programs for current and prospective steam car operators and owners through programs and publications that address historic steam car maintenance and operation;
  • Offer experiential programs and activities for all generations that inspires a lifelong love of learning and a curiosity in science, technology and history.

 

STAFF

Susan Randolph, Executive Director, Email: srandolph@auburnheights.org

Allison Schell, Director of Public Programs, E-mail: education@auburnheights.org
 

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Marshall Steam Museum is governed by the Friends of Auburn Heights and benefits from the wisdom, support, and advocacy of its Board of Directors.

Robert Koury, President

Bob Koury was elected to the Friends of Auburn Heights Board in 2018. He started with Auburn Heights in 2016, volunteering on the AVRR. His passion has always been trains. He got hooked at the age of five while standing next to a Santa Fe Steam Locomotive at the train yards in Los Angeles. When provided the opportunity to learn how to drive a steam locomotive, although 1/8 scale, he jumped at the chance. Bob is a grandfather of six wonderful grandchildren. The older children love Auburn Heights and get a kick out of the fact that “PaPa” drives a train.

Bob retired from the Army in 1994 as a Lieutenant Colonel and worked for the next 22 years as a Systems Engineer and Manager in the Aerospace industry. Bob’s volunteer experience includes the Military Operations Research Society, chairing working groups, teaching classes and serving on the Board of Directors for six years, church-related committees, and is part of the Auburn Valley Railroad team. His professional experiences include supervision and management of several large organizations executing multi-million dollar projects and activities. He has led and managed a variety of analysis teams, including a cross-enterprise virtual team of 150 managers, engineers, and scientists for the development, deployment, and support of System of Systems Engineering environment, tools, and human resource networking.


J. Stephen Bryce, Vice President

Steve has always enjoyed things mechanical, and before Auburn Heights his efforts were focused on keeping a 1969 Corvette roadworthy. During the spring of 2007, Tom Marshall taught Steve the basics of operating a Stanley, which ignited his enthusiasm. Since then he has been immersed in the maintenance and operation of the entire collection of cars and finds it the most rewarding activity he has ever undertaken. Since his arrival, Steve has driven Stanleys from the Auburn Heights collection on 15 tours. His fondest memory of the training he received from Tom was the Sunday Tom allowed him to drive four different steam cars.

Steve is a retired executive from Hercules Incorporated with a mechanical engineering degree. While at Hercules he had responsibility for both business and manufacturing management. After retirement he was looking for an interesting place to volunteer and came upon Auburn Heights because it was close to home and was featured in an article in the local paper. He has been a volunteer since 2006, Board member since 2008 and President of the Board from 2009 to 2021, leading the museum renovation project in 2019-20.


Kathy Beck, Secretary

With previous careers in law enforcement and information technology, Kathy was asked by Tom Marshall to help out at the Ticket Booth during the early days of the Steamin’ events. There was no saying “no” to Tom, either then or many years later, when he nominated her to the position of Secretary of the Board of Directors. Kathy enjoys welcoming families to Steamin’ Day events, watching little children grow up as train enthusiasts, and in some cases, seeing them join the FAH team. As one of the first people encountered by visitors to the site, Kathy (and her parner in the Ticket Booth) share their love of Auburn Heights, encouraging newcomers to become members, and explain the highlights of each event. As the secretary of the Board of Directors, Kathy takes pride in her “wordsmithing” abilities to accurately record the proceedings.

James FaulstichTreasurer

James Faulstich is an accounting and finance professional currently living in Havertown, Pennsylvania. He works for Fidato Partners, a consulting firm providing accounting, risk management, and IT services for companies throughout the greater Philadelphia area. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 2010 with degrees in Accounting and Management Information Systems.


Charmayne Busker

Charmayne, Ruth Marshall’s niece, is a lifelong Delawarean and was born in Hockessin, now residing on the family farm outside Harrington. An alumnus of both Smyrna High School and Virginia Tech, she spent 30 years in Commercial Lending in the Farm Credit System before joining her son as the CFO of Jenamy Farms, a diversified dairy, poultry and grain operation based in Harrington. Charm is an active 4-H volunteer and for nearly 20 years has served as treasurer of the Delaware 4-H Foundation. She is also a volunteer at the Delaware Ag Museum, having served as a Trustee there for 9 years, and is the 2018 4-H Hall of Fame Laureate.

Her family includes her son Philip and his wife, Annie, as well as her daughter, Sara. Of her many accomplishments, she credits being “Gram” to Karley, Gracie, and Sophie as her greatest!


Matt Chesser, Director

Matt Chesser served as the primary architect and project manager of the Auburn Valley Master Plan, which proposed the conversion of the former National Vulcanized Fiber plant in Yorklyn to what would eventually become Delaware’s 17th state park, Auburn Valley State Park. He worked for almost 15 years for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Parks and Recreation, often discussing Yorklyn’s future with Tom Marshall. Matt is currently Legal Counsel for Delaware Technical Community College, where his primary responsibilities are in the area of transactional law.

Matt has an Associate of Applied Science in Civil Engineering Technology from Delaware Tech, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health from Salisbury State University, and a Juris Doctor from Villanova University School of Law. He was admitted to the Delaware Bar in the fall of 2000. He enjoys the collector car hobby has taken his family on several car hobby-related trips, including Carlisle Fairgrounds, Ocean City Cruisin’ weekends and Formula 1 races. In addition to cars, Matt also enjoys boating and fishing and lives in Dover with his wife, Kim, and three youngest children.


Dan Citron, Director

Daniel Citron is originally from Delaware, having been born and raised north of Wilmington. He gained a love of history early in life thanks to many trips to historic sites and museums with his parents. Excellent Social Studies teachers in junior high and high school made him realize that he wanted to major in History in college. During his summers, Dan volunteered and then was hired as a seasonal historical interpreter at Fort Delaware State Park. After graduating Penn State with a B.A. in History, he became a costumed Site Interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg before being offered the full-time Lead Historical Interpreter position at Fort Delaware, eventually promoted to Historic Site Manager. In 2008, he requested a transfer to Auburn Heights to assist with the transition of the property from a private residence to a State Park site and museum.

Dan was the liaison to the FAH Board of Directors and worked closely with Tom and Ruth Marshall, FAH staff, and volunteers. While at Auburn Heights Preserve, Dan played an integral role in creating the first Auburn Valley Master Plan, saving the remaining NVF corporate records when the company went bankrupt, and increasing the permanent park staff from one to five (plus additional seasonal staff) after budget cuts had eliminated or frozen all positions except for his.

In late 2015, Dan became Executive Director of the New Castle Historical Society, a role he thoroughly enjoyed until becoming Historic Sites Program Manager at Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. He still volunteers with FAH and is a steam car operator and chair of the Collections Committee. Dan lives in Bellefonte, DE with his wife, Heather, and daughter Leah. In addition to steam cars, his hobbies include going to museums, collecting whiskey, and reading lots of books to Leah.


Russ Fox, Director

It is all about the trains! Russ started nurturing his passion for trains as a volunteer on the Wilmington & Western Railroad (WWRR) at the age of 15. Tom Marshall, the driving force behind the WWRR, would see many of those volunteers help him operate his Auburn Valley Railroad (AVRR). For Russ and many others, working on the full-size trains and helping Tom was “train heaven.” These experiences laid the groundwork for Russ to become a professional railroader at Amtrak, working in both the Mechanical and Operation Departments spanning a 38-year career.
In addition to working at Amtrak, Russ has participated in many profit and not-for-profit railroad groups, including the National Railway Historical Society, American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners and the Historic Red Clay Valley. Since 2013, Russ has joined the Pennsylvania Live Steamers, Jersey Shore Live Steam, New Jersey Live Steam and Train Mountain.

Approaching retirement, Russ began thinking back to the first time he experienced Tom’s AVRR during a Wilmington & Western chicken dinner trip and asked, “Why not build a ride-on-railroad?” At the time, Russ was building a G-scale train layout and decided to switch to constructing his first ride-on-railroad, which he completed in 2013. Moving back to Delaware, Russ has started construction on his second ride-on-railroad. He enjoys working on the locomotives and rolling stock along with keeping in contact with suppliers for available parts and new products.


John Hopkins, Director

John retired in January 2019 as a Branch Chief from the US Army Research Laboratory where he enjoyed a 35-year career as a mechanical engineer and manager. He has always enjoyed the challenges associated with the design and execution of mechanical systems. 

John has been a volunteer at Auburn Heights since 1997. He participated in the first meeting that Mr. Marshall held; that meeting led to the formation of the “Steam Team.” Since then, he has been an active volunteer, maintaining and operating the collection of steam cars. John has driven and toured with the Stanley steam cars thousands of miles and is currently considered a “teaching driver.” He grew up around antique cars and has always enjoyed the challenges of keeping old cars maintained and operational.


Ruth P. Marshall, Founding Director

 In 2008, Tom (1924-2019) and Ruth Marshall gifted their home and estate to the State of Delaware and donated to the Friends of Auburn Heights (FAH) the Marshall Collection of steam vehicles, including the 1/8-size Auburn Valley Railroad as well as two 1930s Packards and a 1916 Rauch and Lang electric car. Their generosity and abiding support have provided the foundation upon which FAH has grown.


Robert J. Reilly, Director

Bob grew up in Delaware and has been connected with Auburn Heights in a variety of roles since he first became acquainted with FAH’s founder, Tom Marshall, in 1966. During college, he worked at Auburn Heights for three summers, helping construct and operate the Magic Age of Steam. Bob was a frequent Marshall houseguest and accompanied Tom on many steam car tours, including a month-long transcontinental trip 1982, which led to acquiring his first steam car the next year. Later, he helped Tom formulate the original concept of a non-profit organization to assume long-term responsibility for the Auburn Heights collections (a concept that evolved into FAH), and he went on to live on the property for two years while serving as FAH’s first Executive Director (2006-7).  He has served on FAH’s Board since the organization’s establishment.

Bob has lived in Colorado since graduating from Principia College in 1974. He retired in 2004 from a career as an independent computer software consultant, developing and deploying mainframe-based systems for many of the world’s leading banks. In retirement, he is active as a motorman on the volunteer-operated Denver Trolley and serves as treasurer of a railway historical society. He still enjoys operating his 1913 Stanley, which he has steamed on tours in 20 states and counting. His wife, Barb, also lures him out for cross-country skiing and hiking trips near their home in the Rockies.


ANNUAL REPORTS

The Friends of Auburn Heights prides itself on being a responsible nonprofit organization, and we share information on our financial position with members and the public at our Annual Meeting each February. To view a summary of those presentations in pdf format, please click on the appropriate link below.

We encourage donors to fully research the charities that they support and to make educated decisions regarding their philanthropic contributions. Background and financial information on most charities, including the Friends of Auburn Heights, may be found free of charge at GuideStar.

The Friends of Auburn Heights is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; therefore all donations to the organization are tax-deductible as permitted by law.

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