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Pa. mayor, wife, visiting sister city

September 04, 2000

Pa. mayor, wife, visiting sister city



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Mayor Robert Morris and his wife, Pat, will leave for Japan today, with the "doors of Chambersburg" in hand.

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They will carry 100 copies of a poster Pat Morris and the couple's daughter, Meredith, created this summer of architecturally interesting borough doorways.

Robert and Pat Morris are among 42 people from Chambersburg going to Gotemba, the borough's sister city in Japan.

Gotemba is about 50 miles southwest of Tokyo, at the base of Mount Fuji. It has been linked to Chambersburg, its much smaller sister, since 1960.

"Both sides look at it as purely friendship and cultural exchange," said Charles G. Schlichter Jr., the organizer of the Chambersburg contingent flying out of Washington, D.C., this evening.

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"It has historical impact," Robert Morris said, "because we have had this relationship for a long time."

The group will spend two days in Tokyo, four in Gotemba and four in Hong Kong, he said.

People from the city and the borough visit each other every five years.

The intercontinental tradition can be traced to Tsunako Negami.

Negami was a 1928 graduate of Penn Hall, a former girls' finishing school that is now part of Wilson College.

She then attended Wilson College for one year before going back to Japan, Schlichter said.

In 1956, she established a citizens' group to help disabled people in Japan.

In ensuing years, she started a school for mentally disabled children and helped push for a national youth center.

Schlichter said that Negami suggested around 1959 that Gotemba connect with Chambersburg because she had enjoyed her school years there.

Schlichter and three other people from Chambersburg visited Gotemba in 1980. Negami arranged a private audience for them with the princess of Japan at Gotemba Citizen's Hall.

"That's pretty powerful," Schlichter said.

About 40 Chambersburg residents went to Gotemba in 1990.

Groups from Gotemba came to Chambersburg in 1985 and 1995.

In between official visits, there have been teacher exchanges and some Gotemba students have gone to Wilson College, Robert Morris said. Also, American soldiers stationed in Japan have been welcomed in Gotemba.

Schlichter described Gotemba as a beautiful area with a nice climate. "It has a spread-out geography," contrary to the perception that all of Japan is densely packed, he said.

Negami was 95 years old when she died in June. Schlichter keeps in touch with her son, Shinichi, who calls himself Steve.

This will be the first time Robert or Pat Morris have left North America. The mayor is less keen than his wife about the long plane ride, but both are excited to go.

Robert Morris said he expects to exchange a lot of gifts with his hosts. He'll bring pewter plates with "Chambersburg" inscribed on them and some Pennsylvania quarters, among other things.

He said that members of the Chambersburg group will judge a music competition, for which he has prepared a proclamation.

"I know their hospitality will be very nice," he said.

"I'm nervous about it ... but I know we'll have fun," Pat Morris said.

She and Meredith, a May graduate of Shippensburg University, spent much of the summer scouting out attractive doors in the borough for the poster. Meredith took all of the photographs.

There are 25 doors on the poster. Two are from churches, one is at the Masonic Temple, one is at Wilson College and most of the rest are from private homes.

Pat Morris said she got the idea after seeing a similar poster for Lewes, Del.

"I've been thinking about this, but there hadn't been the incentive," she said. "This trip was the incentive."

Robson and Kaye, Inc., a Chambersburg print shop, produced 500 copies. They are on sale at the chamber building and at The Gift Enclosure, where Pat Morris works part time.

Most of the proceeds will go to Downtown Chambersburg, Inc.

One dollar from the sale of each poster will go toward a statue of founding father Benjamin Chambers.

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