Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Cathy

Cathy Wedelstaedt comes to us from Dow Chemical Corporate R&D in Michigan. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, she attended the University of Notre Dame, majoring in chemistry. Upon graduation, she joined Dow Chemical’s Analytical Science Lab. Close to 15 years at Dow were spent as a laboratory scientist before transitioning to senior technical leadership positions in new business development, technology acquisition/divestiture, technical portfolio and project management. She was able to travel the world in her job, but fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband took an early retirement (after working at Dow for 35 years!) and relocated to the Hood Canal in Poulsbo, close to the mountains and the sea! Her son still lives in Michigan, and is a market analyst for a large automotive parts company.

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As a new transplant, and with time on her hands, she looked for areas in which to volunteer. One of those places was, of course, our museum. As a scientist, she loves the science and technology aspects of the Naval Undersea Museum; as a history enthusiast, she loves the military lore that she has learned as a volunteer. Cathy has been working as a volunteer at the museum since 2015, earning four Bronze and one silver President’s Volunteer Service Awards along the way. Wanting to use her skills as a researcher and manager, she works “behind the scenes” with Lorraine and Beth in collections management, with Val in STEM education, and with Mary in curatorial in addition to welcoming visitors as a Museum Attendant. Although she has transcribed various works and helped digitize photos and other artifacts for the museum, she is also willing to do any task that aids our staff accomplish their mission. This includes providing vital support for intern stipends and education programs through gifts to the Naval Undersea Museum Foundation.

A true go-getter, Cathy also volunteers at the Fishline Food Bank and serves as the Pacific Northwest Regional Director on the University of Notre Dame Senior Alumni Board.

Cathy has enjoyed her volunteer work, especially at the museum, because it combines her love of science with history. She says it is a great educational experience and that she has learned so much about military technology and history from both the staff and volunteers. She is lucky and honored to be part of the Naval Undersea Museum volunteer corps. And we are proud and lucky to have such a motivated and gifted volunteer.

Are you interested in joining our amazing team as a volunteer? Learn more about our volunteer opportunities!


Darlene Iskra has been a volunteer at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum for 10 years. She started at the front desk as a greeter, and about two years ago she began working in the collections management department, cataloguing collections. She was a naval Surface Warfare Officer and Diving Officer for 21 years, retiring in 2000 as a Commander. She received her PhD at the University of Maryland in 2007, studying the military and society, as well as gender work and family. She started volunteering at the museum to meet new people and give back to the community. She volunteered to talk to museum volunteers in order to learn more about her colleagues and ease some of the loneliness of self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. These “Volunteer Spotlights” are the results of her conversations.