Joseph Obidzinski and Mary Glass will be honored in Charleston on Thursday, March 9 as West Virginia History Heros as part of a History Day program and ceremony at the Culture Center. Obidzinski was nominated by WVU Jackson’s Mill and Glass was nominated by Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants, Inc.
Obidzinski is originally from Livonia, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He earned an undergraduate degree in American History from Grand Valley State University in Michigan and a Master’s degree from WVU in Civil War Era Studies and Public History. Obidzinski came to WVU Jackson’s Mill as a seasonal historian at the Jackson’s Mill Farmstead in 2014. As the season ended, he wanted to stay on in some capacity, and Program Specialist Dean Hardman wanted to use an AmeriCorps member through Preservation Alliance of WV, and it came together.
Obidzinski is working as an AmeriCorps member to gain professional experience, and has helped him to cultivate new skills and improve on others. He is a historian by trade, but likes to read and watch movies in his spare time. He is drawn to story-telling and said, “That is one of the reasons that I was drawn to history from an early age. I saw it as the ultimate story.”
Obidzinski has enjoyed his time at WVU Jackson’s Mill. He said, “I have always felt a great responsibility when sharing the history of Jackson’s Mill as I see the grounds and buildings there as representative of the story of the Mountain State and it’s people. It has always been a great source of pride that I was given the responsibility and honor of sharing that story and caring for that history.”
Obidzinski has begun a service year with Preservation Alliance’s Historic Theatre Trail. The trail features 29 historic theaters across WV that are still operating or have been rehabilitated. He is also working on several other projects to help the theatre project develop and expand, including “creating entries for the Clio history mobile application, working on attracting new member sites, writing an article about the project for a national theatre preservation organization, and maintaining the project’s Facebook page.”
Obidzinski plans to work permanently in the history field, hoping to manage a historic site. He is also working on starting a business in historical consulting, which would involve performing evaluations and recommendations for historic sites or societies, doing exhibit design work, National Register nominations, among other services. He has a number of article and book-length projects for publication, which are at various stages of planning and research.
Obidzinski said he feels both honored and humbled by receiving the WV History Hero award. Hardman nominated him, and Obidzinski added that this is “one of the greatest professional honors I have ever received.” He loves the work he does, and claimed history is the only type of work that he has wanted to do since he was ten years old. “To be presented with an award for doing it seems a bit strange to me since I would do this work for free, if the realities of life didn’t demand otherwise.”
Obidzinski does not feel he won this award on his own merits alone, however. He credits Gabby Brooks, Jeff Wyne, Chad Proudfoot, and his AmeriCorps Supervisor Danielle LaPresta Parker. Parker first gave Obidzinski the opportunity to work at WVU Jackson’s Mill.
Obidzinski praised his friend and supervisor Hardman. “Dean not only gave me the opportunity to come to work at his site but has always been open to my thoughts and ideas on projects and programming, and has given me a great deal of encouragement along the way.”
Obidzinski also wished to thank his family, most of whom are in MI. He said they have always believed in him and supported him in pursuing his passion. He also wished to thank his girlfriend Tasha, a constant source of support, inspiration, and love.
Mary Glass is a resident of Buckhannon now, but lived in and taught gifted education, grades fifth through twelfth, in Lewis County for years. She earned her Bachelor’s from WVU in education and physical science, and her Master’s from Marshall University in the same subjects.
Glass has volunteered with Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants, Inc. (HCPD)since it’s inception. “I have a lot of interest in family and genealogy.” She has taught several workshops for HCPD, Daughters of the American Revolution DAR, the Church of Latter-Day Saints, and the WV state archives.
Glass was surprised at being nominated for the History Hero award, but said it was an honor all the same. She is humbled that she won, however. Glass said, “There are wonderful volunteers at HCPD. There are so many deserving of this for all the time and dedication they put into it.” She will be traveling to Charleston on March 9 to receive her award.
Glass urges the public to come to HCPD. “Most people don’t realize the resources that are there, and all the documents that have been acquired over the years.” The public is invited to all HCPD workshops, as well. HCPD is hosting two workshops on March 16, 23 and 30, beginning at 6 p.m. These workshops will focus on free internet sites for researching family history.
Glass lives in Buckhannon with her husband, Thomas Glass Jr.