Endless Summer 2018
Paving the Way
Eagle Scout Fehrle Helps an Eagle Scout-to-Be
By Dave Bontempo
Former Mayor Vince Lamana and Commissioner Dominic Raffa presenting Roger Fehrle with the Citizen of the Year award. Fehrle is shown wearing his Eagle Scout badge in the photo.
Scout’s honor, this was one for the books.
Roger Fehrle’s past and present converged in a unique manner at the American Legion Post 331 building in Stone Harbor.
The lifelong Sea Isle City resident, who runs the Herman Fehrle & Sons concrete contracting company started by his father, achieved the rank of Eagle Scout here in 1962. This summer, he helped a current Boy Scout take a big step toward attaining the same honor.
Fehrle, 67, donated time, resources, ingenuity and professional knowledge to a project completed by Bradley Whiteway, a 14-year-old Maryland native and summer resident of Avalon. It unfolded across several Fridays in July and early August.
The endeavor created a paved walkway on the north end of the building, giving veterans a more stable place to walk. Whiteway’s project will help him qualify for Eagle Scout status in Bethesda, Md., coinciding with his freshman year in high school.
Fifty-five years after becoming an Eagle Scout himself, Fehrle marveled at the depth of its requirements. This project was ambitious, entailing logistics, coordination of borough departments, people management and physical labor. If done independently, it would have cost about $3,500 to complete.
“It’s great for people to come up with a fantastic project and give back to the community like this,” Fehrle says. “That’s what the Boy Scouts are all about. They come up with some pretty amazing projects, these kids.”
This was not Fehrle’s first contribution involving veterans. He helped when the Sea Isle VFW was built and has cleaned up flower beds there. For years, he has been involved in Sea Isle City community events. Fehrle discovered Whiteway’s endeavor via his role as a well-known contractor in Avalon and Stone Harbor and lent his support.
Roger Fehrle today
Fehrle provided materials as the project took form: concrete, sand and pavers. His team’s role also involved cementing the edges in and making it all smooth, with some 2½ yards of concrete covering a 4-foot-wide span of 43 feet.
Says Whiteway: “There were usually five people with me. We first shoveled down through the rocks, and then you had the concrete and the sand to put in. When it was finished, it was really cool to see the layers we had gone through. I am happy with how this turned out.”
The teamwork involved Whiteway and several of his Avalon Yacht Club friends on one side, Fehrle and his professional crew on the other. Fehrle and Whiteway also corresponded in between work days, as the young man learned about organizing others.
“My guys were all good,” Fehrle says. “We were trying to show young kids how to work smart. You try to teach everything from when they get to a job, what do they do, how do they set it up, how to get the most out of their time. We did keep them moving,” he chuckles. “It was possibly a little harder than they thought it was going to be.”
It was an excellent lesson in preparation, especially the physically demanding world of masonry and construction.
“Roger played a significant role,” notes Jeff Whiteway, Bradley’s father. “Not only did he donate time and materials, but because we used concrete, the project will last longer.”
Tom McCullough, the Post 331 commander, was ecstatic. The Legion post had received a major enhancement for free. A few people had just done something kind, honoring vets.
He also relished the idea of Fehrle and Whiteway working side-by-side, separated by 53 calendar years, yet linked in this far-reaching community effort.
“One Eagle Scout helping a soon-to-be Eagle Scout,” McCullough beamed. “They did all this and were helping our veterans. We are so grateful to them. To me, it’s a beautiful story.”
Roger Fehrle helps Bradley Whiteway and his friends work on the walkway at Post 331.
Post 331 officially recognized Bradley Whiteway in its Aug. 7 meeting. His ambitious undertaking foretells a glittering future. For Fehrle, the event summons a glimpse of the past.
“My Eagle Scout days came after the storm of 1962,” he recalls of the event that devastated Sea Isle City. “We had to be evacuated and when we came back, we had Mercy Hospital that needed a lot of help to get up and running again. I went there every day after school and did whatever I could.
“But I’ll never forget going back,” he laughs. “A bunch of us had gone there the first day, and the nuns asked everybody to come back. It turns out I was the only one. I got locked in, and would have loved to get out of it, but I couldn’t.”
Instead, he helped for about two months, became an Eagle Scout and later Citizen of the Year, officially recognized by the mayor in a ceremony.
Then it was on to Wildwood Catholic High School, Atlantic Community College, Stockton College and the family business.
Joe, one of Roger’s four children, served as a Marine and worked in the U.S. Department of Defense. Fehrle’s late wife, Aurora, was a driving force in a community effort to revitalize Sea Isle City’s playgrounds and athletic complexes; Aurora’s Play-by-the-Bay playground was named in her memory. And the family business is nearly 100 years old.
Despite what he and his family have done, Fehrle downplays his efforts.
“I’ve been here a long time and been able to do a lot of things,” he says. “I am happy the project in Stone Harbor went well, but for me, this one is all about the boy.”
And perhaps, in retrospect, the boy in him.