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Nancy (Dwyer) Kolb, Class of 1962
Bucknell University 2012 Alumni Association Award
"Achievement in a Chosen Profession"
Awarded to an alumnus or alumna whose professional accomplishments and achievements are exceptionally noteworthy and distinctive in his/her profession.
Nancy Dwyer Kolb ’62
retired in 2009 as president and chief executive officer of Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. She received her bachelor of arts from Bucknell University with a dual major in biology and history, with enough education credits to teach history in the Abington, PA school system. In college she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and was active in the chapel, chorus and theater programs. Thirteen days after she graduated from Bucknell, she married her high school sweetheart, Roy Kolb. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary June 16, 2012.
Kolb has lived in Doylestown, PA for 43 years on an 18th century farm. The move to Doylestown was fortuitous as the town is home to the Mercer Museum of the Bucks County Historical Society. It was as a volunteer and trustee of the Historical Society that Kolb found her vocation - the wonderful world of museums. Her career has spanned more than 40 years. She was site administrator at Pennsbury Manor, William Penn’s country home in Morrisville, PA and served as assistant executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for 6 years, working in the central offices in Harrisburg.
But all that was prelude to, in her words, “the best job that anyone ever had” - CEO of Please Touch Museum. Arriving there in 1988, Kolb succeeded the founder, and led the museum for 21 years. Please Touch was one of the first museums in the country dedicated to children between the ages of one and seven. Kolb was part of the museum’s $88 million expansion project to move Please Touch from a storefront building on 21st Street to Memorial Hall, a 19th century National Historic Landmark in Fairmont Park. This expansion led to an exponential increase in operating funds and attendance numbers. Unlike many children’s museums, Please Touch has a substantial collection of unique objects related to childhood in the Delaware Valley.
History has been an important part of Nancy’s life since Bucknell and she hopes that by introducing children to the past in playful and fun ways that the next generation of Philadelphians will grow to appreciate its rich diversity of history since 1776.
Kolb has served on the boards of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, the American Association for State and Local History, the American Association of Museums, the Association of Children’s Museums, the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations, and currently, the Free Library of Philadelphia. She has received numerous awards since the completion of the Memorial Hall project.
Nancy’s unique career, rooted in teaching and the non-profit world, ultimately touched the lives of many families and children and has left an educational legacy for generations to come.
She is an avid bird-watcher, golfer, knitter and has been recently trying to remember how to play bridge, an activity that occupied many hours at Bucknell. Kolb and her husband Roy have three children Amy Kolb, William (Bill) Kolb and Anders (Andy) Kolb and five grandchildren:
Mac (age 17), Jake (age 14), Nathan (age 10), Harry (age 13) and Faye (age10).
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