Even as he prepared to board a plane for Charleston to do a portrayal of our country's first president, something he has done since 2000, Dean Malissa was reading a book about George Washington.
His work is never finished.
"Washington himself probably wrote 40,000 letters, records, accounts and reports," Malissa said. "And then there is all that has been written about him."
Malissa will speak twice today for events that will benefit Charleston's historical Craik-Patton House. The Craik part of that name refers to Dr. James Craik, who was a close friend of George Washington.
Malissa now serves as the official Washington portrayer at the Mount Vernon Estate and Museum and travels extensively to do portrayals for groups such as the Colonial Dames.
He never intended to take on such a venerable character.
Malissa, a native of Philadelphia, worked in corporate America for 25 years before retiring in 1999. He revived a youthful interest in theater by trying out for a community theater production and became hooked on acting.
"This, at its inception, was just another acting job," he said of his Washington expertise.
In 2000, he met Bill Sommerfield, a well-known Washington scholar and portrayer who became a mentor. Malissa began portraying the first president part-time.