Back Mountain residents to be honored by WB YMCA

First Posted: 10/14/2014

The Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA will honor Joseph Persico, Esq., Bernie Popson, Marie Roke-Thomas, PhD and Martz Trailways at the organization’s 2014 Leadership Dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 22 at the Westmoreland Club, 59 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre. Cocktails will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:15 p.m.

Tickets for the Leadership Dinner are $100 per person and are available by calling Gretchen Sevison at the YMCA at 570-970-5027 or emailing her at

Atty. Persico, of Shavertown, will receive the 2014 Robert K. Mericle Leadership Award, which honors an individual who demonstrates exemplary efforts in furthering the mission of the YMCA and enhancing the quality of life in the community. Atty. Persico has been a member of the YMCA for 38 years. He is a past member of the board of directors and now serves as the chairman of its board of trustees. He has been involved with two of the Y’s capital campaigns – one in 1990 and the most recent one being two years ago. Atty. Persico now sits on the compensation committee and has been a part of the board development committee as well as the executive committee.

Atty. Persico is the managing partner of the law firm of Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald, LLP, where he has practiced law for nearly 40 years. During his career, he served as president of the Luzerne County Bar Association and was a member of the House of Delegates of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He is the past president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce and has served as chairman or president of Leadership Wilkes-Barre, Fine Arts Fiesta and the Westmoreland Club. He has, and continues to serve on various community boards, including The Luzerne Foundation, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center and the Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Atty. Persico also was the recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Leadership Wilkes-Barre Alumni Association and, together with his wife, Patrice, received the Sister Siena Finley Ethics Award.

Atty. and Mrs. Persico are the parents of three children.

Dr. Roke-Thomas, of Dallas, will be presented with the 2014 Frank M. Henry Layperson of the Year Award. The award recognizes an unsung hero at the YMCA, one who contributes their time and services for the betterment of the organization and the local community.

Dr. Roke-Thomas has been employed by Surgical Specialists of Wyoming Valley for more than 20 years and Wilkes University, Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, for more than 10 years.

Dr. Roke-Thomas is married to Jim Thomas, executive director of the Wilkes-Barre YMCA. They have two daughters, Lindsey and Morgan.

Dr. Roke-Thomas became part of the YMCA family when Lindsey and Morgan attended Camp Kresge many years ago. She joined in the initiative to help revitalize the YMCA’s Night at the Races fundraiser. Since then, her many volunteer projects have included preparing sauce and desserts for the YMCA’s Camp Kresge Spaghetti Dinner, cooking food for the Street Fair and Donor Appreciation Christmas Party, assisting at swim meets, providing flu shots in conjunction with Walgreens Pharmacy to YMCA members, and coordinating the participation of Wilkes pharmacy students in Healthy Kids Day. She has written several grants, which helped the YMCA obtain a defibrillator for Camp Kresge and provided support to the YMCA Afterschool Program.

Dr. Roke-Thomas also has been instrumental in helping establish the annual Christmas party for the children at the YMCA. With the generosity of Frank Rodano of Rodano’s Pizza, Wilkes pharmacy students, the staff at Surgical Specialists and friends of the YMCA, she has helped organize and treat almost 100 children at the YMCA each year to an afternoon of food, fun and games, including presents from Santa.

Popson, of Shavertown, a member of the Wilkes-Barre YMCA for 25 years, is the recipient of the George Brandt Community Service Award. The award is bestowed annually to a volunteer who demonstrates exceptional service. An active YMCA member, Popson is a past president of the board of directors and a past recipient of the Lay Person of the Year Award. He currently sits on the board of directors and also serves as a member of the executive committee, the Night At Pocono Downs Committee, the Golf Tournament Committee and the Annual Fund Committee.

Popson is employed with Landmark Community Bank as the Deposit Products Business Development Manager. He has served as a member of the Forty Fort Lions Club for more than 20 years. He serves as the Memorial Day Old Fort Five Mile Run chairperson and is the Forty Fort Lions representative to the Lions Northeast Eye Bank.

Popson has three daughters and resides with Kathy Bross.

Martz Trailways will receive the 2014 YMCA Corporate Leadership Award recognizing the company as an exceptional corporate supporter of YMCA programs.

Frank Martz, Sr., started Martz Lines in Plymouth in 1908 with one bus under the name of White Transit Company. Martz established operations between small mining towns throughout the region. Upon his death in 1936, the controls of the company were taken over by his son, Frank Martz, Jr., who continued to grow the company. In 1964, after the death of Frank Martz Jr., Frank M. Henry, grandson of the founder of Martz Lines, took control of the company. His son, Scott Henry, is president and currently represents the fourth generation continuing to work for the company.

The corporation currently employs over 400 people and owns and operates six major coach companies spanning the east coast from New York City to Florida; a travel agency in Wilkes-Barre for air and cruise services, and bus sales and repair operations.

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