Back row: Michael Walsh | Jason Markiewitz | James Canney, Jr.| Jim Canney
Jason Markiewitz – President
Jason is the President of The Rohna Survivors Memorial Association and is the grandson of HMT Rohna survivor Sgt. Louis R. Markiewitz of the 853rd Aviation Engineer Battalion.
He has been active in the organization since 2010 and was elected President in 2017. He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force and has served in Italy, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Korea and the United States, presently serving as the Commander of the 50th Intelligence Squadron at Beale AFB, CA.
When not in uniform, he wears various costumes as a stage and film actor, is an avid fiction writer, has developed and oversees a comprehensive historical research website dedicated to the 853rd Aviation Engineer Battalion, loves listening to audiobooks while he runs 5Ks, and enjoys playing golf and baseball. He lives in Plumas Lake, California with his wife, Diana, and their three children, Victoria, Andrew, and Nicholas.
Deborah Sanchez – Vice President
Deborah has been a Rohna Board member since 2006, and became Vice President in 2008. In 2012 she donned another hat in The Rohna Memorial Survivors Association, becoming a co-producer of the reunions along with her sister, Cynthi Stefenoni.
She attended her first Rohna reunion in 1999 with her father, deceased Rohna survivor, Alfred Stefenoni and her sister. Deborah was born and raised in Sebastopol, CA. She worked 19 years at the Pacific Telephone Co., in Santa Rosa, CA, then after moving to San Jose, CA, another 20+ years in senior administrative positions for various companies. She currently lives in San Jose with her husband Dennis, and is the step-mother of three sons and grandmother of eight.
Janice Pumelia – Secretary
Janice, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, is the proud daughter of Rohna survivor, Anthony Pumelia. She was fortunate to attend two reunions with her father, Oklahoma City and Washington, DC, before he passed away.
After teaching English for over 40 years, she retired in June 2014 as an assistant principal of Midwood H.S. in Brooklyn. She also worked with the school’s drama club producing/directing plays and musicals. Also in June 2014 Janice became a Rohna Board member and was appointed Secretary in 2017. She currently teaches at Brooklyn College guiding students into the world of teaching English, and works with the national Fellows Program, mentoring first year English teachers.
Janice lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Robert, and when she is not working she can be found in her herb/pollinator garden tending to plants that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Janet Delude – Treasurer
Janet attended her first Rohna reunion in San Antonio, TX in 2000. In 2001 she was elected to the Rohna board as Secretary/Treasurer until 2017 when she became the Treasurer, only. Her father was a Rohna survivor.
As a young child Janet remembers her father talking about being on a ship that was bombed and that he was in the water for 10 hours before being rescued. Seventeen years after her father’s death she was watching a war movie and saw a ship being bombed. She knew she had to find out what happened to her dad. Thanks to the internet it was easy to find.
She attended her first reunion and found six men who remembered her father, including his Lieutenant, Gus Gikas. A retired Manicurist, Janet and her husband Jim have been married for 54 years. They have three kids and five grandchildren.
Michael Walsh – Past President
Michael is a retired video producer and photographer. He holds a BFA from the University of RI, and a MS in Instructional Technology from RI College. Michael joined the Board in 2005 and served as President for 10 reunions (2008-2017).
He is the author of “Rohna Memories I & II” and is working on a documentary, featuring over 50 interviews with survivors, historians, convoy members, wives and relatives. Michael’s step-father, Don Dupre, was aboard one of the Convoy KMF-26 rescue ships, the USS Pioneer.
Michael lives in Newport, Rhode Island, with wife, Danette. They have two married children, Mary and Tim.
Ruth Canney – Founding Board Member
Ruth was born in Cambridge, Mass., a LONG time ago. She graduated from Northeastern University in Boston and married John P. Canney, one of the Rohna survivors instrumental in forming The Rohna Survivors Memorial Association, in 1948. John passed away in 2001.
Ruth, Charlotte Clonts and their husbands, Jim Clonts and John, (both survivors) began the Rohna reunions in 1993. She has three children, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. She retired from the West Jefferson Public Library.
Gus Gikas – Founding Board Member
Col. Gus Gikas, USAF Ret., is a Rohna survivor and former CO, Transient Organization AI-826-A. Gus has been a board member since the organization’s inception in 1998.
Gus was married to the late Leola Gikas for 67 years. He is the father of two sons, Donne (deceased) and Ken. Ken and his wife Carol have two daughters, Lydia and son-in-law Patrick, and Caroline. Gus earned a BS in mathematics from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He later taught ceramics at Texas State University, San Marcos.
With Gikas Pottery, he and his wife made and sold pottery in the 1970s and 1980s. He has been a ham radio operator for more than 75 years.
Jim Canney – Board Member
Jim, son of deceased survivor John P. Canney, has been a board member since 2006. He worked for the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities, retiring after 40 years. Jim’s first three years with the board were as a school age instructor. The next nine as the Adult Services Director and the final twenty-eight as the County Board Superintendent. He has two degrees: Bachelor’s degree in Education from Urbana University and a Master’s degree in Administration from Ohio University.
Jim and his wife, Melissa, who works in a local school district as their Student Support Specialist, live in London, Ohio. They are parents to six children and have thirteen grandchildren.
James Canney, Jr. – Board Member
James joined the Rohna board in June, 2017. He is the grandson of deceased survivor, John P. Canney and reunion co-founder, Ruth Canney.
He attended Columbus State Community College and Wright State University before settling into a career as an Electrician. He is an Operations Manager for Lane Valente Industries. He lives in London, OH with his “Life Partner”, Melody Jordan and 3 children. Together they enjoy a multitude of the kid’s sporting and academic endeavors.
“My affinity towards the Rohna was cultivated from a very young age, with stories of heroism, tragedy, and determination that truly captured my imagination. As one of the newest members on the board I look forward to helping with the ongoing progress of the association, as it aims to keep its goals in sight while furthering its mission”.
Cynthi Stefenoni – Board Member
A native of Sebastopol, CA, Cynthi has had a 30+ year career as an Assistant Director and Producer in the Television and Film industries, is a member of the Directors Guild of America, and currently teaches at Film School SF. She was an Assistant Director for Paramount, Warner Bros and Nickelodeon and has also been on the production team of such socially relevant projects as Live Aid, Hands Across America, Aids Quilt Los Angeles and the End Hunger Network.
Currently, Cynthi produces the internationally acclaimed Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and has been Assistant Producer of the Rohna Survivors Memorial Association Reunions since 2012. She has served on TRSMA’s Board of Directors since 2011.
She is the proud ‘Nonni’ of 5 grandchildren and proud daughter of Rohna deceased survivor Alfred Stefenoni.
Ellen Weber – Board Member
Ellen, board member since 2017, is the daughter of deceased survivor, Aaron Weber, and has been attending Rohna reunions since 2005.
After receiving a Bachelors degree in Sociology and Masters degree in teaching ESL from Temple University, she taught English to immigrants and refugees for over 30 years.
Ellen lives in suburban Philadelphia where she enjoys Israeli folk dancing, playing Mah Jongg, and is currently serving as president of her Hadassah group.