Staff & Volunteers

Amazing People Helping Preserve Our History

Benzie Area Historical Society Key Staff

Barbara Mort

Executive Director, Project Manager

Barbara Mort is a graduate of Northwestern Michigan College and Ferris State University and joined BAHS as executive director in May, 2018. During her youth, she was fortunate to be surrounded by two extended families each proud of their respective Polish and Scottish heritage, with the older generations freely sharing stories. Her passion for storytelling and history are matched with a dedication to education and community outreach, making the Historical Society a natural fit for her.

As executive director, she reports to and works closely with the Board of Directors. Under her leadership, relationships have been developed with local and state community funding organizations including the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Benzie County Community Chest and the Willoughby-Rotary Foundation.

Brian McCall

President, Board of Directors

Brian McCall joined the BAHS Board of Directors in 2017 and was elected as President in 2019. He serves as Chair of the Executive and Communications Committees. McCall has presented multiple times as part of the Benzonia Academy Lecture series and acted as a tour director for historical bus tours of Frankfort and Elberta.

McCall earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and MA degrees in American History from Central Michigan University and in Scottish and modern British History from the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Scotland.

He has been a member of the Interlochen Arts Academy Liberal Arts faculty since 1998 and is an instructor of history and political science. McCall has also served as an adjunct American History instructor at Northwestern Michigan College; English language instructor at Inlingua Moers Sprachschule, Moers, Germany; adjunct instructor, Department of History at Kirtland Community College, Roscommon, MI; graduate teaching assistant, Central Michigan University; and high school history and government instructor at Bark River-Harris Schools.

McCall is a resident of Grand Traverse County. He serves as vice president of the Traverse City Historical Society, is a past board member for Michigan Legacy Art Park and the Northwestern Michigan College International Affairs Forum, and past member of the Grand Traverse Heritage Center Advisory Council.

Jerry Heiman

Secretary, Board of Directors

Jerry Heiman was first elected to BAHS BOD in 2007; he has served as Secretary since 2014, and is currently Chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. He is a member of the Programs, Exhibits and Public Events Committee and a tour director for Museum and historical walking, bicycle and bus tours. He also pens “One Hundred Years Ago,” a column in our local newspaper, and writes articles for our newsletter.

Heiman is a graduate of Albion College, University of Michigan Dental School, and University of Michigan Hospital Residency program. He served in the US Army Dental Corps 1966-1969 and practiced Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Midland, Michigan from 1972-1998. He has been a Big Platte Lake property owner since 1977 and became a full-time Benzie County resident in 1998.

Heiman, 78, serves on the Platte Lake Improvement Association Board of Directors, on the advisory committees for Benzie EMS and Benzie Bus, and River Care Committee of Conservation Resource Alliance. He also delivers meals for Benzie Senior Resources.

Bruce Leach

Vice President, Board Of Directors

Bruce Leach was elected to our board in 2017 after serving as a research and genealogy volunteer for several years. He is currently a member of the Executive, Communications, and Buildings & Grounds Committees and the Information Technology Task Force. 

Leach has extensive genealogy and research experience contributing his skills to our Archives and fulfilling research and genealogy requests.
As an instrument trainer specialist in the United States Air Force, he spent four years teaching instrument trainer electronics repair to the maintenance support teams and ultimately, as a ground school instructor, teaching instrument flying and radio navigation to student pilots .

Leach entered the information technology arena in its infancy and spent forty years as a senior data systems analyst. He specialized in the areas of education, manufacturing, and retail distribution.
Leach and his wife vacationed in Frankfort for several years before moving here upon retirement and making it their permanent home. He is a volunteer archivist with the Interlochen Center for the Arts and also volunteers for Benzie Senior Resources’ Meals-on-Wheels program.

Trudi Hook

Treasurer, Board of Directors

Trudi Hook joined the board in 2010 and has served as bookkeeper and Treasurer since 2010.  She is chairperson of the Finance Committee and a member of the Executive Committee.  Trudi has served as bookkeeper at both for- and non-profit organizations and currently works as a church auditor and election pool inspector.  She also volunteers as her church’s treasurer, is secretary/treasurer for the Beulah Boosters and past treasurer of United Methodist Women.  Trudi and her husband, Dan, began visiting Crystal Lake in 1967, and they happily retired to Beulah 15 years ago.

Maria Wolowiec

Administrative Assistant

Maria Wolowiec comes to the Benzie Area Historical Society from Benzie Central Schools where she worked as a paraprofessional. Before that she worked at the Benzonia Public Library. Before moving to Benzonia in the mid 1990s she worked at the world headquarters of Kelly Services, Inc. in Troy, Michigan. She graduated from Northern Michigan University. Maria’s father was a forest ranger so she grew up in many places, including Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois and Minnesota. This gave her an appreciation for the many varied cultures encompassed within this one country. 

Maria is the administrative assistant to the Executive Director. She also works with the volunteers, committee members and the public. Maria is on the board of the Benzie County Community Chorus as well as having sung with them for many years. She also performs in plays with the Benzie County Players.

Lead Volunteers

  • Jane Purkis, Curator
  • Dave Reid, Exhibits and Editor of The Benzie Heritage
  • Trudi Hook, Bookkeeper
  • Andy Bolander, Research
  • Bruce Leach, Research
  • Cheri Dundon, Archives
  • Mary Link, Genealogy
  • Pat Campbell, Junior Historians
  • Nancy Taylor, Database Coordinator

Board of Directors

  • Brian McCall, President
  • Bruce Leach, Vice President
  • Trudi Hook, Treasurer
  • Jerry Heiman, Secretary
  • Dave Reid, Immediate Past President
  • Stacy Leroy Daniels
  • Timothy Foster
  • Jane Freeland-Gerschick
  • Don Harrison
  • Charles Kraus
  • Larry White
  • Linda Wood

Representation of Diverse Communities

On the Board of Directors

Michigan’s population, as a whole, is aging and graying, and we are now the 12th oldest state in the nation. Baby Boomers are now hitting retirement age, and many are relocating to Benzie County, while we are also experiencing a decrease in population for those aged 20-40. According to the 2010 US Census, Michigan’s population of those 65 and older is 16.2 percent, compared to 23 percent in Benzie County in 2000 and 32 percent in 2012, an increase of 9 percent. Of the 17,524 residents in 2010, 4,556 were 65 years of age or older. 

The Benzie Area Historical Society Board of Directors (BOD) is currently composed of eleven board members, three of whom are women. Ten of eleven members are over the age of 65, with one in his fifties.

It is a priority to have board members hale from communities throughout our county. Currently the following communities are represented: Thompsonville, Beulah, Frankfort, Crystalia, Lake Ann, Arcadia and Platte Lake. Board president Brian McCall is a Traverse City (Grand Traverse County) resident and brings a regional perspective.