From left, museum curator Barbara McKeffery, then president Abby Powell and volunteer and new president Ron Kovatis look at a collection of old postcards in May.

Ron Kovatis may be the new president of the Sea Isle City Historical Society & Museum, but he is certainly no newcomer to the museum.

Kovatis, voted in by the museum board in December, assumed the new role on Jan. 1, but he will continue to work alongside Abby Powell, who decided after being the president of the museum since 2018, that it was time to turn the torch over to her fellow volunteer.

“Abby will be my right-hand person as, hopefully, I have been to her all of these years,” Kovatis, 74, said in an interview Tuesday.

He began volunteering at the museum five years ago, when he and his wife, Nancy, moved to Sea Isle full time.

The museum is a repository of thousands of artifacts from Sea Isle City’s 140-year history.

The retired human resource manager, who also once worked as a high school English teacher and guidance counselor, said he is eager to continue the good work Powell began and also bring some new ideas to the table.

“We refresh exhibits and refurbish them. I have some ideas for some new exhibits that I would get the board’s approval on before doing them,” he pointed out.

There are some exhibits that will always remain an important highlight of the museum, he said.

“The bridal gowns are the hallmark of the museum,” Kovatis said. “It will remain as the premier exhibit. Abby did a wonderful job with them.”

Preserved in pristine condition, the 19 wedding gowns were worn by Sea Isle brides from 1880 to 2007.

Abby Powell stands in front of the bridal gowns exhibit, the centerpiece of the museum.

Kovatis knows that he has some “big shoes to fill.”

“I am contemplating what we might do in terms of new exhibits and new programs for both adults and kids,” Kovatis noted. “I would like to expand the exposure of what the museum is in the community.”

He said that while volunteering at the museum on Tuesday, he was reminded of the significance the museum plays in the community.

Binders that hold photos of notable families in the museum are a popular and useful attraction for visitors, he said.

“A young woman came in today. She went through her family’s album,” he said. “She was so excited to find photos of her aunt and uncle’s homes. It really is thrilling to see how history can be made personal.”

Powell, like Kovatis, said she is happy to continue to work alongside her friend and fellow volunteer.

Ron Kovatis and Lynne Shirk view historic items from St. Joseph’s Church.

Powell spoke of her experience as president and volunteer at the museum.

“Being the president of the Historical Society and Museum has been a wonderful experience,” Powell said, noting that she began volunteering at the museum in 2014. “From the moment I began, I felt like it was exactly where I was supposed to be. Every volunteer at the museum feels like an extended family member. I had the opportunity to meet so many interesting and amazing people. Meeting locals and vacationers were always the highlights of my days at the museum.”

Powell also spoke of how she believes Kovatis will be a great leader.

“I have complete trust in Ron as the new president. He is dedicated and a hard worker, not to mention one of the most genuine and kindest men I know,” Powell noted. “We will all be by his side to help him every step of the way and I invite everyone to come to the museum and meet our amazing new president.”

Kovatis and his wife, Nancy, have two grown children who live in Philadelphia. Their son, Stephen, works as an attorney, and their daughter, Jean, is an administrative assistant.

Five years ago, when Kovatis and his wife moved to Sea Isle, Nancy was walking on the beach and met Powell, who is also in charge of the Sea Isle’s summer beachcombing tours.

Ron Kovatis, as a guide for the beachcombing tours, talks to a group of children.

It was then that Nancy recruited her husband to work with Powell on the beachcombing tours and in the museum.

“I am very concerned about following in Abby’s footsteps,” Kovatis said. “I have big shoes to fill.”

He loves volunteering for both the museum and the beachcombing tours.

“They keep my heart beating and the blood flowing,” he said. “I don’t think a day goes by that I haven’t learned something new.”

For more information about the Sea Isle Historical Museum, located at 4800 Central Ave., or to learn about becoming a museum volunteer, visit