Gabe Meyer and John Hansman

Three New Mark residents were recognized on December 14 for their work as volunteers in serving the community—Gabe Meyer for his musical uplift during the pandemic, John Hansman for protecting New Mark’s architectural history and Max Bliss for taking the initiative in an environmental cleanup on his block.

The awards were presented virtually at the Rockville Mayor and Council meeting last Monday. A video of the meeting is available at

The three New Mark residents were among 40 Rockville residents recognized as Good Neighbors at the meeting.

Gabe Meyer was nominated for the award by Ron Tipton, who wrote that Gabe has “lifted spirits” throughout the pandemic with his trombone concerts at Lake New Mark. Gabe’s spontaneous initiative to honor frontline workers during the health crisis started in April with daily rendition of a few songs, ending with Taps. With the onset of winter weather, he appears at 5 p.m. on Sundays.

“The beautiful sounds resonate around our lake and through much of our community,” Ron wrote in his nomination of Gabe for the award.

Gabe, who revived his interest in the trombone from his musical experience in his younger days, offers some insight into his motivation in this video.

The film was made by Lisa Helfert, a professional photographer friend of resident Robin Yasinow. Lisa said she made it for a class she was taking on film and welcomed Robin’s suggestion of music at the lake as a subject.

“I liked the idea he was doing something for COVID,” Lisa said.

John Hansman was nominated by Alex Belida for his years of volunteer dedication to New Mark Commons, serving as a past president of New Mark’s Board of Directors and continuing to serve as chair of its Architectural Control Committee.

“It is a critical if thankless duty, but one of considerable importance since New Mark’s 2017 listing on the National Register of Historic Places – a recognition that John was instrumental in bringing about, adding to Rockville’s stature as a great place to live,” Alex wrote in his nomination.

For insight into the architectural history of New Mark Commons, this link  offers you information compiled during our fiftieth anniversary year in 2017. Posted there are the full text of the community memoir published that year, as well as a video of New Mark’s mid-twentieth-century significance in architectural and community design.

Max Bliss was nominated by Sandra Crowe for being an “exceptional neighbor” who supports others and specifically for taking the initiative in an “environmental cleanup of New Mark Commons in the 800 block.” She said Max is “an asset to the Rockville community.”

The large number of Good Neighbors named Monday night seemed to directly reflect how the pandemic has brought people closer to each other. In addition to Gabe’s musical response to the crisis, several other Rockvilleans had their own initiatives in responding to the pandemic: Ed Chaffee organized a daily 4 o’clock club in his driveway at social distance to buoy spirits and keep track of the COVID weeks in chalk markings; Patrick Smith  picked up food for his senior neighbors; and Rachele Stein crafted balloon arches to brighten her neighborhood.

The city also recognized seven people for restoring the Woodley Gardens community pool after fire destroyed it in 2018; seven people for organizing to keep Rockville informed about the toll lanes proposed by the state; and two people for working to enhance bike and pedestrian safety;

Hjarman Cordero, Rockville’s senior community engagement coordinator, wrote that the awards are the city’s way of saying thank you for “goodwill efforts on behalf of others” in the community.

Past Good Neighbor recipients from New Mark include Judy Rudolph, Ellen Stein, Kathleen Moran, and this reporter.