Sgt. Maj. C. R. (Bobby) Kotlowski, USMC (Ret.) has been named interim curator of the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas. Emmett Casciato, museum founder and curator, is stepping away from his museum duties until after the November election, as he runs for the office of Transylvania Board of Commissioners.

Bobby Kotlowski spent 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, retired as a Sergeant Major, and worked for 17 years at the U.S.S. Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston, S.C. He worked in museum services (maintaining the ship, restoring artifacts and exhibits, inventory), operations, and was events manager for his last 11 years.

Asked for details of his work on the Yorktown, Kotlowski said, “I created several exhibits on the ship: the wardroom, officers’ mess, snack bar, sailors’ gift shop, and the galley and scullery. I restored these rooms to their 1968 configurations (before the ship was decommissioned). I handled each year’s 4th of July event, which drew approximately 28,000 people. Pre-pandemic, we handled around 350 events each year, including corporate events, retirements, and weddings, as well as educational/historical events, school groups, and Scout camps.”

Born in Jersey City, N.J., Kotlowski joined the Marines when he was 17. He said, “My dad had been in the Marine Corps for seven years and served in the Korean War. He was wounded at Chosin Reservoir.”
During his service in the USMC, Kotlowski worked as a logistician and in combat service support. He became the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer (first for a company and later for a battalion), advising on policy/procedure implementation and personnel issues. He served around the world and in the continental United States.
Kotlowski said, “Being in the Marines was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, bar none. I made friends for a lifetime. I still meet with friends from my last battalion every year. I got married two years ago and many of these guys came to the wedding. My wife, Harriet Rita (called “Sis”) and I live in Hendersonville. I found this museum online and reached out to find out how I could volunteer.”
Asked about his first impression of the Veterans History Museum on his first visit early this year, Kotlowski said, “Well, it’s a whole lot different from the Yorktown. And I don’t mean just the size. For a town this size, this is a very nice museum. Brevard is 7000+ people and you have a museum like this right here? That’s unheard-of. You don’t see that anywhere else.

“And the fact that people bring personal items of their family members—you do not see that very often in larger museums. People have brought in some really unique things. It’s highly unusual to have the quality of artifacts being brought here. Our displays are more on a personal level, each one part of a story of an individual. That’s what makes this place unique. Larger museums have to ‘speak’ in generalities about historical events.

“This museum is personal. That’s the first thing I noticed. There’s a feeling of connection with the town and the county. This community has a sense of ownership of this place. I’ve enjoyed every minute of volunteering here.

“I’m here every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.” Please come by and meet Bobby Kotlowski, the museum’s 25 other volunteers, and enjoy the new exhibits.