VCPA Board Members

Bill Bennett III - President - Lyman H. (Bill) Bennett, III is a fourth generation Montanan. HIs great grandfather came to Virginia City in 1870. He is a third generation attorney. He is a trial attorney and has been elected to membership in the American Board of Trial Advocacy and designated a "Super Lawyer" for the Rocky Mountain region in the area of bodily injury defense for seven consecutive years.

Mary Oliver – Vice-President - Mary Oliver‘s profession has been a long-time banking career with the First Madison Valley Bank in Ennis. She served on the boards of several youth organizations (4H, Boy Scouts, FHA) when raising her children in the Madison Valley. Serving as the Public Relations Officer for the banking group for whom she works she has served on a multitude of community service boards. She currently serves as a board member for the Montana Preservation Alliance, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, the West Yellowstone Foundation, the Grizzly Wolf Discovery Center, the Big Brothers/Sisters and is a member of the Sheridan Main Street Improvement Team. She also serves as a State Advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Julie Ward – Treasurer

Billie Ratcliffe – Secretary - Ratcliffe is a native Montanan born in Great Falls. Peter Leavengood, her great-great grandfather settled in Virginia City in 1864. Billie currently owns and manages a ranch in the Ruby Valley. She started and ran Bridger Creek Outfitters, a custom saddle business, for 23 years.

Jan Thomas – Editor – Jan was in the field of education for 30 years prior to her retirement. She earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees in education, served as a school reading specialist in both Illinois and Nevada public schools, and also as a teacher trainer and school administrator in Nevada. Jan and her husband built a home in Virginia City in 2011. Jan is currently organist for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Virginia City, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Thompson-Hickman County Library, is part of the Virginia City 150th Anniversary Committee, and has come to appreciate the historic treasure that is Virginia City.

John Ellingsen - Properties Committee Chair

Janet Allestad – Grand Ball Committee Chair - Although, not a native Montanan, Janet has always felt that Virginia City is where she belongs. She has lived in Montana for the past 30 years, and in Virginia City off and on for the past 7 years. She has an MS in Education from West Virginia University. She taught Vocational Agriculture, worked for Farm Credit Services, law enforcement with Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Services, real estate mortgages, Montana Heritage Commission as a seasonal worker, and volunteer. Because she loves history and the fascinating events that created Montana, she is a member of the Bannack Association, the Montana Ghost Town Preservation Society, and The Montana Historical Society. She firmly believes in the Mission Statement of the VCPA and all of the events, displays, exhibits, information/books/newsletters and activities that are supported by VCPA.

Christina Koch – Membership Committee Chair - Originally from Colorado, Christina moved to Virginia City in the summer of 2010 to work at the Opera House. She fell in love with the town and the history of the area and decided to make Virginia City her permanent home. She now runs the Opera House with her husband Bill Koch and John and Micki Benedict and she also works full time at the County Library in Virginia City.

Marge Antolik - Board Member - Marge’s move to Montana 38 years ago culminated in finding Virginia City and never leaving (23 years now). While working and raising three children, Marge tried to give back to the wonderful Virginia City community through different volunteer efforts. Currently, she is a member of the Virginia City Artisans & Growers Guild and is employed by the Montana Heritage Commission as Assistant Curator of Collections.

Karen Fisher – Board Member - Spending a large part of her lifein Idaho, she established a pharmacy business which she sold a few years ago. In 2000 she bought a piece of property in Virginia City, MT which she turned into the Gingerhouse Bed and Breakfast. Besides operating that business she volunteers service in a few community organizations, such as the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce.

Gary Forney – Board Member - Gary is a retired college vice president who, with his wife, Cathy, has lived near Ennis, MT, since 1999. In addition to the VCPA, he serves on the Boards of the Thompson-Hickman County Library and the Elling House Arts & Humanities Center, and Chair of the Pace Archives Trustees. He has published four books related to the history of Montana, served on the Humanities Montana Speaker’s Bureau, selected to present the Honors Program lecture at Carroll College, and has contributed articles to several historical societies.

Steve Gilman – Board Member - Steve Gilman was born in Billings Montana and lived in Montana and Colorado. He moved to the Gilman family ranch in Alder Montana in 1992. He worked on the family ranch for 6 years and then relocated to Timber Creek Ranch in the Upper Ruby and has been there for 15 years. Steve is the 5th generation of Gilman’s to live in the Ruby Valley and has strong ties to Virginia City.

Sandy James – Board Member - Sandy, a fifth generation Montanan, was recruited by Larry Barsness to join The Virginia City Players in 1964, and this, along with a family friendship with the Boveys, spawned a life-long interest in Virginia City. Sandy started playing old-time fiddle in 1976, and in 1983, he and Jeannie co-founded the Dillon Junior Fiddlers, which is going strong to this day. Sandy’s interest in the V.C.P.A. began in 1996, when he formed a spinoff of the Junior Fiddlers to provide music for the first Grand Ball.