Museum Leadership

Board of Directors

Marilyn Smith-Mooney, President

Marilyn Smith-MooneyPresident Marilyn Smith-Mooney moved to Punta Gorda in 1993 from Long Island, NY, where she attended St. Joseph’s College School of Business Administration and earned her Certificate in Leadership & Human Resources Development. The first half of her 30-year private-sector career focused primarily on the field of architecture and construction, with the latter half focusing on executive management team positions in human resources, corporate development and materials management.

While on Long Island, Marilyn added flight training as an additional pursuit and operated a flight training and aircraft rental business after receiving her FAA Commercial Pilot certificate and being certified as an FAA “Gold Seal” Flight Instructor/Ground School Instructor.

More About Marilyn Smith-Mooney

Marilyn held the Punta Gorda City Council’s District #2 Seat from November 1996 through October 2008, serving twice as Mayor in 2001 and 2002 – the city’s first female mayor since its founding in 1887. She is a graduate of the Advanced Institute for Elected Municipal Officials, Leadership Charlotte and Local Government Leadership Florida.

Marilyn joined the Museum board and became its President in 2007, a position she held for more than five years. In 2008, Marilyn also became the Executive Director and Vice Chair of the Tetrault Family Foundation – the private nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation providing the $30M funding and carrying out the development of the 27-acre Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens as a gift to the people of Charlotte County. Currently, she is employed as the executive administrator of the PRB&SG, Inc., the nonprofit that will manage, operate and maintain the Gardens.

In 2011, Marilyn pursued training for and obtained her Florida Supreme Court Certification as a County Mediator and serves as a volunteer mediator for the 20th Judicial Circuit, as well as for the court’s Citizen Dispute Resolution program – a program in which local residents and businesses voluntarily agree to have their dispute mediated in lieu of a judge deciding the outcome.

Marilyn has been recognized in past Charlotte SUN annual lists as one of “the county’s most influential, involved, charitable, powerful and important people.” She is widowed and between her and her late husband, Jack, she has three sons, one daughter and four grandchildren.

James Mallonee, Esq, Secretary

Jim MalloneeJim Mallonee of James W. Mallonee, P.A., holds a B.A. from the University of South Florida and an M.S. from Rollins College. He obtained his J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, in Sacramento, California. Prior to returning to Florida to practice law, he was employed by Intel Corporation for 22 years in locations including New Jersey, Florida and California.

More About Jim Mallonee

Jim has been a member of the Florida Bar since 2003. He serves on the Charlotte Community Foundation Committee for Asset Allocation. He also teaches business law at State College of Flordia and courses at the Life Long Learning Institute.

Jim’s law firm has offices in Port Charlotte and Venice, and the firm’s legal services include business law, estate planning, probate administration, real estate and related matters.

Charles (Chuck) Kersch, Treasurer, U.S. Army Veteran

Chuck is a retired CPA who attended college after spending three years in the U.S. Army. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and his MBA from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. He spent most of his professional career in the cable television/telecommunications industry. He was the Director of Mergers and Acquisitions for Daniels and Associates and then for United Artists Communications after they acquired Daniels and Associates.

More About Chuck Kersch

Chuck and his wife Judy moved from Evergreen,Colorado to Punta Gorda in 2003. Just in time for hurricane Charley. Wanting more fulfillment and after retiring from United Airlines,Judy became a Flight Attendant for Netjets Aviation,Inc.. Chuck followed suit and taught International Accounting and Finance for IMPAC University at Punta Gorda campus. Because of the University’s reciprocal agreement with the National University of Vietnam he also made several trips to ยท teach in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Both are now officially retired and are sharing their home with their Wheaten Terriers: Hogan and Maisie.

Before joining the Board of Directors of the Military Heritage Museum he had served as the Treasurer for the Florida International Show for four years.

Larry Brown, Director, MSgt (Ret), U.S. Air Force

Larry was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. He is married to Candelaria Brown and has 2 sons and 3 grandsons. Larry enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1976. During his military service career, he performed duties as an Administrative Specialist and a Military Personnel Specialist. His duty locations included: Howard AFB Panama, Offutt AFB NE, Zaragoza Air Base Spain, Ramstein AFB Germany, Hickam AFB HI, and Minot AFB ND. He graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 1992 with a BS in Business Administration and from Central Michigan University in 1995 with an MS in Health Service Administration. He retired from the Air Force in 1996 with a rank of Master Sergeant.

More About Larry Brown

After retiring from the Air Force, he began a second career with the Department of Veterans Affairs in August 1996. He started as a Veterans Benefits Counselor, communicating the status of disability claims and the types of veterans’ benefits available, and was eventually promoted to the position of Assistant Service Center Manager. His responsibilities included oversight of productivity of compensation claims, coordination with all major military installations in Florida to develop the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, oversight of the Public Contact unit, Congressional Liaison office, and the station’s Quality Review section. He retired from the St. Petersburg VA Regional Office in August 2014.

Larry began his latest career endeavor as Charlotte County Veteran Services Manager in February 2016, responsible for a staff whose primary function is to assist veterans and eligible dependents in applying for all VA and Florida Department of Veteran Affairs benefits for which they may be eligible. Additionally, they are charged with outreach to help inform the public of what veteran benefits to which they may be entitled, and how to apply for them.

Fred Buckingham, BrigGen (Ret), U.S. Air Force

Brigadier General Buckingham entered the Air Force in 1964 as a distinguished graduate of the Indiana University Reserve Officer Training Corps program. During his career, he commanded a C-130 flying squadron and all three stateside C-130 flying wings. He also was the senior YC-14 operational test pilot responsible for a qualitative evaluation of the YC-14 prototype to perform the tactical airlift mission.

General Buckingham served as theater commander of airlift forces for both Operation Just Cause in Panama and Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia. A command pilot, he has flown more than 6,000 hours including 680 combat hours in South Vietnam.

The numerous awards Fred received include Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters and Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters.

He retired from the Air Force in 1994 and he and his wife, Diane, moved to Punta Gorda. Since 1996, General Buckingham has served on the Board of Directors of the Florida International Air Show and has held the position of chairman since 1999. He also served on the Board of Directors of the International Council of Air Shows. He is a past director of the National Board of Advisors to the Museum of Aviation Foundation in Warner Robins, Georgia, and a past trustee of the Military Heritage Museum.


Robert M. Dickinson, COL (Ret) U.S. Army

Robert M. DickinsonRobert M. Dickinson, COL, US Army, Retired, is the Museum’s fifth inductee to the Museum’s “Wall of Warriors.” He and his first wife Gayle moved to Charlotte County in 1991. Bob retired from the Exxon Corporation in 1982 as a senior executive, responsible for evaluating and advising Exxon Corporation and its world wide affiliates on the introduction of the new “Office of the Future” technology that was sweeping the world. Eventually Bob became a financial advisor with what is now Ameriprise Financial Services.

More About Robert M. Dickinson

Over time he acquired the prestigious designations of Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). He became licensed in many states and acquired his Series 24 Registered Principal license from the SEC. Most importantly, he earned the trust and confidence of a large number of satisfied clients.

Bob had a third career, in the military. It started in 1954, when he graduated from college and was commissioned an Army second lieutenant in the Artillery branch. Bob spent four years on active duty, which included attending flight school and becoming an Army aviator. After that, Bob spent the next 27 years in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. He retired from the National Guard in 1985 as a Colonel assigned to the Aviation branch and as a Master Army Aviator.

Bob is a graduate of Harvard College (AB Magna cum Laude) and Harvard Business School (MBA with High Distinction). He is a past president of the Arts and Humanities Council of Charlotte County and currently serves on several of that organization’s committees. He is vice president, secretary, and newsletter editor of the Reserve Officers Association Chapter 6. He is on the board of the Military Officers Association Charlotte Harbor Chapter and is personal affairs chairperson. He is president of the Sun Coast Council of the Navy League, which covers Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties. He is also a board member and treasurer of the Fred Lang Foundation, which helps fund mental health services. He and his wife Sharyn live happily in Deep Creek.

Eugene (Gene) Geronime, Director, CAPT (Ret), U.S. Navy

Gene GernomineGene Geronime, Captain, U.S. Navy, Retired, is the Museum’s second inductee to the Museum’s “Wall of Warriors.” Gene was in carrier aviation during a military career that spanned almost thirty years, beginning with graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1954, followed with advanced degrees in Aeronautical Engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School and Stanford University.

More About Gene Gernomine

He operationally flew planes that included the F9F-6 Cougar, the FJ3/3M Fury, the F8 (series) Crusader and the F4J Phantom II. During two combat tours to Southeast Asia on the USS Oriskany he flew the F8E Crusader. Other carriers upon which he deployed were the USS Hornet, the USS Ranger, USS Saratoga, USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Constellation. He had 850 carrier landings and 4000 jet hours during his career. Gene also managed three major programs during his Washington tours, including the F/RF-4 Joint Program Office, the Harpoon Project Office and the Tomahawk Project Office. In addition, he was a test pilot in Carrier Suitability at the Naval Air Test Center.

Gene was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, seven Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals – with device for combat valor, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, four Republic of Vietnam Service Medals, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Medal.

After retiring from the Navy, Gene spent 15 years with McDonnell Douglas in various executive positions. In 1998, he and his wife Jane moved to Punta Gorda, where he became actively involved with the Florida International Air Show. Gene is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and he is a trustee emeritus of the Athletic and Scholastic Division of the United States Naval Academy Foundation.

Gene and Jane have been married for more than 56 years and have three children, eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild.