Farrell Alumni 'Hall of Fame' Honorees

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"Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame Honorees" — 2005 to the present

[FHS Insignia]

[FHS Insignia]

2010 —Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame

Awards Banquet

Top row: James Raykie (Master of Ceremonies),   Honoree Michael J. Sabo,   Honoree Joseph Scarvell,
Honoree Lt. Col, Robert Hoffman (Ret.), Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lora Adams-King
[2010 Speakers]
Bottom row: George Christoff who accepted for Honoree Arthur Gatty,   Perla Nixon who accepted for her husband
posthumous Honoree Raymond Nixon,   Honoree Ted Pedas,  Honoree John 'Jack' Greaf,   Honoree Michael L. Wright, 
Honoree Dr. Louis Mastrian,   Frank Garguilo accepting for Honoree Donna Debonis


2010 — Farrell Alumni 'Hall of Fame' Honorees
Honoree biographies are shown below
[2010 Hall of Famers]

The purpose of the 'Farrell High School Alumni Hall of Fame', established by Ted Pedas in 2005, is to recognize former students who have brought distinction, honor and excellence to the Farrell Area School District through their accomplishments and achievements.

Any Farrell Alumni, as well as teachers and administrators, are eligible for nomination. Alumni may be selected at any time beginning 25 years after the graduation date of their class.

Teachers and administrators may be included in the Hall by having demonstrated excellence in the classroom and programs throughout grades K-12, by having been employed in the district for a minimum of 10 years, and by having been retired for a minimum of three years.

Nomination forms are available online at www.farrellareaschools.com or at the school district's central offices, Farrell Municipal Building and Wheatland Borough Building.

The Hall of Fame provides an opportunity to showcase the diversity of Farrell's graduates from 1904 to the present. All FHS graduates are listed on the Farrell (PA) High School Alumni Archives web site which was created and funded by Ted Pedas (FHS '56).

The 6th Annual Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame Awards Banquet was held on October 16, 2010 in the cafeteria of the Farrell Area School District.

James A. Raykie Jr., editor of The Herald and chairman of the Alumni Hall board of directors, served as the master of ceremonies.

A note of appreciation to Jim Raykie for his efforts in launching the Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame and compiling the program which includes the below biographical information.

6th Annual Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame Awards Banquet
October 16, 2010
[FHS Bar]

  • Welcome - Jim Raykie, Master of Ceremonies
  • "The Pledge of Allegiance"
  • Invocation - The Rev. Lora Adams-King — Superintendent, Farrell Area School District
  • Dinner by ARAMARK Food Service
  • Introduction of the 2010 Honorees — Jim Raykie — Editor, The Herald
  • Remarks, Ted Pedas, — Director Emeritus, Farrell High Planetarium
  • "The Farrell High School Alma Mater" — Jasmine Oliver, Jessica Hancox, Quentin Malloy
  • Benediction, The Rev. Lora Adams-King — Superintendent, Farrell Area School District

  • Johntae Scott, Robert Trudo, Shaquana Borders, Kaionna Lites, Laura Hlusko, Quentin Malloy, Jasmine Oliver, Jessica Hancox, Ciera Townsend, Monica Sabol

[2010 Banquet]



Anthony Aiello, FHS '54
Debbie Bordell, FHS '70
Chuck Branca, FHS '68
Vincent Cardamon, FHS '60
Dr. James G. Kollar, FHS '54
Serena (Tizio) Nevant, FHS '48
Judi (Yersky) Pendel, FHS '60
Joe Santell, FHS '70
Carol (Stefanak)Ulan, FHS '69
James Raykie, FHS '70.


Donations are welcome to help support the Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame and its related activities, culminating with the annual induction ceremony that showcases the success of Farrell High School graduates, its retired administrators and teachers. The induction ceremony is scheduled annually for the third Saturday in October.

If you are interested in donating, please make your chedk payable to the Farrell Area School District and send it to Debbie Bordell, Farrell Area School District, 1600 Roemer Boulevard, Farrell, Pa. 16121


    2010 PLATINUM LEVEL MEMBERS ($1000 and above)
    • Ted Pedas (Farrell, Pa)
    • James Pedas and Theodore (Ted) Pedas (Wahington, DC)
    • Attorney Mark Magnotto and Pam Magnotto

    2010 GOLD LEVEL MEMBERS ($500 and above)
    • Dr. James G. and Maryann Kollar

    2010 SILVER LEVEL MEMBERS ($200 to $499)
    • Arthur Gatty
    • Mr. and Mrs. Michael Magnotto (in memory of Herman Magnotto)

    2010 PATRON LEVEL MEMBERS ($100 to $199)
    • Donald and Gloria Cagigas
    • Vince Cardamon
    • Col. Donald H. Jones (Ret.)
    • Louis Nicastro
    • Jerry Sharell

    • Amelia Brumm
    • Dr. Julia Marshall
    • Melvin Slezak


Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame — 2010 Inductees
[Michael J. Sabo]
Michael J. Sabo
FHS class of 1949

Michael J. Sabo, who graduated from Farrell High School in 1949, has literally left his personal and professional marks on many of the Shenango Valley's most popular buildings that, as an architect, he helped to plan and design.

After graduation from high school, he enrolled in the College of Architecture at the Pennsylvania State University where he received a bachelor's degree of architectural engineering in 1954.

Upon graduation from Penn State, he entered the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant and was assigned to the single engine jet training program. He completed his training in 1956 and received his wings and promotion to first lieutenant. He was honorably discharged from active service in 1958.

When he returned with his family to the Shenango Valley, he was employed in the architectural engineering firm of Hunter, Heiges & Gross as a structural designer. His first major design project was the original Reynolds Area High School that was erected in 1959. He became a registered professional engineer in 1960 and a registered architect in 1962.

He became a partner in the Sharon firm of HHSDR (Hunger, Heiges, Sabo, Douglass & Rogers) in 1962 as well. The firm designed many school projects including the Farrell High School and the Hetra Elementary School that received an Honor Award from the Pennsylvania Society of Architects.

Other projects that HHSDR designed that received Honor Awards were the Hermitage Municipal Building, First Federal Savings and Loan's main office building in downtown Sharon, and its branch office in the Hermitage Square Plaza.

As a principal officer of HHSDR, he supervised the structural and site planning of many projects including Sharon High School, Hickory High School, Sharpsville High School, Greenville High School, and Grove City High School, as well as many other school projects in the state. One of the largest and most complex was Mill Creek Middle School in Erie.

Other projects included the original Shenango Valley Osteopathic Hospital and the additions to it, the Monsour Hospital in Jeanette, Pa., St. Paul's Home in Greenville, and Meadville City Hospital.

He served on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Society of Architects and was elected to serve as its president in 1976. He has served on the United Way board of directors and was President of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce in 1977. He was on the French Creek Council, Boy Scouts of America board and received the Silver Beaver Award from the Custaloga District, BSA.

He and his wife of 55 years, Margaret, are parents of four adult children - Michael, Melanie, Marcia and Matthew. The family has been members of the Church of Good Shepherd in West Middlesex for more than 50 years, a church designed by HHSDR in 1965.

[Joseph E. Scarvell]
Joseph E. Scarvell
FHS class of 1949

Joseph E. Scarvell, who graduated from Farrell High School in 1949, established himself as one of the area's leading directors of theater and has served in some capacity in more than 1,000 productions in his illustrious career.

After graduation from Farrell, he attended Slippery Rock State Teacher's College and later Youngstown College (Youngstown State University), earning a bachelor's degree in education from the latter in 1955. He earned a master's degree in theater from Kent State University in 1970.

He accepted a teaching position in the history department at Farrell High, continuing at that position until 1962 when he assumed the position of speech and theater arts teacher and director of dramatic productions, replacing his former mentor and good friend Kathryn Polyzou when she retired.

Upon assuming these new duties, he transformed the educational theater scene throughout western Pennsylvania by abandoning the customary selections of high school plays that often dealt with banal and mundane themes. He selected plays with themes that challenged the social consciousness of his students.

Thematically, the plays explored issues of social justice, responsibility to self, racial discrimination and other issues that are core to man's principles of ethics and moral standards of life. The avant-garde became the common trend.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education contacted him in 1968, requesting that he accept the duties of a newly-created position as coordinator of theater productions within the New Castle School District. His duties were to coordinate all theater productions in the district with the aim of advancing the dramatic arts in all the elementary and secondary schools. He retired from New Castle Schools in 1988.

After a one-year hiatus, he continued his teaching career with positions as adjunct faculty at Penn State Shenango, Slippery Rock University at Cranberry, and Kent State University's Trumbull Campus. He is an adjunct instructor at Westminster College and at Youngstown State University.

After several theater experiences on local stages, he entered the regional theater scenes by playing on stage throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. He was invited in 1960 to work at the prestigious Peterborough (N.H.) Players Summer Stock Company, and it was there that he had the honor of meeting with and performing in Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Our Town." He has performed in well more than 1,000 productions in his career as an actor, director or producer.

He is married to the former Joanne Kaschak, an accomplished actress and an adjunct instructor at Youngstown State. They met in 1958 while they were both performing at the Youngstown Playhouse and were married in 1961. They are the parents of four children and have 10 grandchildren.

[Robert Hoffman]
Lt. Col. Robert Hoffman (Ret.)
FHS class of 1952

Robert J. "Bobby" Hoffman, who graduated from Farrell High School in 1952, used his outstanding academic and athletic skills to carve a stellar career at Penn State University and to earn the rank of lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Air Force during a quarter century of service.

While at Farrell High, he quarterbacked Coach Tony Paulekas' Night Riders to the 1951 Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League championship and was named to the Wigwam All-American Team in his senior year.

Teaming with the legendary Julius McCoy, he was a starting guard on Coach Ed McCluskey's 1952 Class AAA state championship team. It was the first of seven big-school championships for Coach McCluskey's Steelers. In addition, he was a shortstop on Farrell's baseball team.

After graduating from Farrell High, he attended Penn State, where he lettered for two years in football as a quarterback and defensive back, playing for Coach Rip Engle. A young Engle assistant, Joe Paterno, served as the coach of quarterbacks.

A two-sport Nittany Lion, he was a four-year letterman on Penn State's basketball team, serving as captain for his senior season in 1955-56.

After graduating from Penn State with a bachelor's degree in Journalism, he entered the U.S. Air Force and the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, where he retired as a lieutenant colonel after 25 years of service. While a member of the Air Force as a navigator and radar officer, he compiled more than 7,000 flying hours in his career.

He worked as a manager for the Ingersoll Rand Company for 35 years until he retired. Ingersoll Rand is an industry that provided mining and drilling equipment to quarries, mines and wells.

He married the former Theresa E. Kulka, a 1952 Farrell High graduate as well. They are parents of six children and have eight grandchildren. They live in Lititz in eastern Pennsylvania.

[Arthur Gatty]
Arthur A. Gatty
FHS class of 1954

Arthur A. Gatty, who graduated from Farrell High School in 1954, saw his love for music and education serve as the foundation of a career that led him to being named the first director of Pennsylvania's top arts program.

After his graduation from Farrell, he earned a bachelor's degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and a master's degree in music education from Duquesne University in 1962. He was chairman of the music department at Forest Hills High School in Sidman, Pa. from 1958-1973. He left Forest Hills to become founding director of the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, a program that he nurtured until 1988.

In the early 1960s, the staff at the Pennsylvania Department of Education had embraced and was committed to innovative curriculum and program planning, especially in the arts and sciences. After a few years of experimentation (several summer programs at Westminster College) and a final "go ahead" from the governor, the department was ready to launch a state-supported arts program, the first of its kind in the nation.

The top priority was to identify an exceptional teacher/leader/administrator who knew and loved all aspects of arts education and who displayed the energy, talent and intelligence to make this unique challenge a success. The long and careful search ended with Arthur's appointment.

During the next 15 years he developed and refined the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts. His work and service transformed the way that arts education for the talented and gifted students was organized and presented.

Because of his vision and leadership abilities, the idea of a Governor's School for the Arts evolved into a number of other Governor's Schools in Pennsylvania, most notably those for the Sciences, Teaching, Medicine, and Finance. As these programs were established, Art was appointed the state director of all the Governor's Schools in Pennsylvania, a position he held until he retired.

His efforts to integrate the arts into a broad-based curriculum for each student, while maintaining focus upon a particular art goal, inspired students to think in bold terms about their general education. More than 39 states have developed educational programs modeled after the state Governor's School and inquiries about the concept have come from the far reaches of the world.

He served as pianist and entertainment coordinator at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Fla. from 1995-2006. In his retirement, he continues to perform regularly at local nursing homes and other venues, and in 2006 performed for President Bill Clinton and Sir Paul McCartney at a private Super Bowl party. He and his wife Janet live in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

[Ted Pedas]
Ted Pedas
FHS class of 1956

Ted Pedas, a 1956 graduate of Farrell High School, used his love for astronomy and his grit and determination to establish and fund planetarium programs at his alma mater as well as Youngstown State University.

After graduating from Farrell, he earned a bachelor's degree from YSU in 1962 and a master's degree in 1969 from Michigan State University. He earned a master's in education in 1969 from YSU and has studied at other major universities such as Pittsburgh, Akron and California at Berkley.

He served as planetarium director at Farrell High since 1969 and was planetarium and science education specialist at YSU from 1968-1993. He was a weekly columnist for the Youngstown Vindicator for 35 years and a national freelance columnist on astronomy, space science and travel.

He has served as a science education curriculum consultant for Youngstown City Public Schools and other districts in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He launched the concept of shipboard educational travel nearly three decades ago and is acknowledged as a pioneer in the specialty field of ocean-going science travel programs. Since 1972, when he co-organized a solar eclipse cruise, he has participated in scores of astronomy-related voyages, including world cruises. In 1983 he was selected by NASA to write and co-produce a planetarium show documenting America's first quarter of a century in space in honor of NASA's 25th anniversary.

He may be a world traveler, but he has never forgotten his roots at Farrell High, and throughout the years has donated more than $600,000 to the school for various programs, including seed money to start the Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame.

Among his many honors and awards in a lifetime of service to education, in July 2006 he was the recipient of the Outstanding Philanthropist Award sponsored by the Mahoning/ Shenango Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and in July 2001, the recipient of the City of Farrell's Centurion Award honoring the citizen of the century.

He is the founder and principal contributor to the Farrell Area School District Foundation, started in January 1999, and was elected a Fellow of the International Planetarium Society in 1996.

To honor its founder, Farrell Area School District dedicated its planetarium as the "Ted Pedas Planetarium" in 1993, and he has been a finalist for Pennsylvania Educator of the Year and the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

He was designated "Planetarium Administrator Emeritus" at YSU in 1993 and was a Buhl Day Honoree for extraordinary community service and volunteerism in 1991. He was the recipient of the Farrell Area School District Alumni Association's Blue & Gold Award for dedicated service to alumni.

[Louis Mastrian]
FHS class of 1960

Dr. Louis C. Mastrian, who graduated from Farrell High School in 1960, etched his mark in education not only as a teacher, coach and administrator at his alma mater, but at other area school districts as well.

Upon graduation from Farrell High, where he was a member of the 1959 and 1960 PIAA Class AAA state championship teams, he attended John Carroll University on an academic and athletic scholarship. He was elected as captain of the basketball team in his freshman and senior years.

He graduated in 1964 with a bachelor's degree in social science as an English major. He was hired by the Farrell Area School District and served as an English teacher and basketball coach. He earned a master's degree in library science from Western Michigan University in 1969, a master's degree in education administration from Youngstown State University in 1980, and a Ph.D. from the University of Akron in 1984.

In total, he worked for 29 years in the district serving as an English teacher, librarian, media coordinator, assistant high school principal, elementary and middle school principal, and assistant superintendent. He served as junior high basketball coach under the fabled Ed McCluskey.

He was a PIAA basketball official for 26 years and officiated in local, district and the state championship finals. He officiated at the college level, working the Women's State College Conference Finals as well as officiating three years in the women's division of the Big East Conference.

In addition to basketball officiating, he started the Mercer County PIAA Volleyball Association Chapter and was the first registered PIAA volleyball official in the county, officiating more than 20 years at the local high schools and in state playoffs.

In 1993, he was appointed superintendent of schools for the Hermitage School District, serving for eight years before retiring in 2001. Following his retirement, he was asked to serve as interim superintendent of the Sharpsville Area School District. Later he was asked to serve as interim elementary principal for the Slippery Rock Area School District.

He has served on various boards and community organizations, such as the United Way, Primary Health Network, Mercer County Head Start, Board of Trustees for UPMC Horizon Hospital Association, First National Bank advisory board, and Mercer County Community Action Agency.

He acknowledges the late John Sava, former Farrell Schools superintendent, who was instrumental in his administrative career. He not only was a personal friend, but served as an excellent mentor.

Lou and his wife, the former Elaine Lufriu, a 1960 FHS graduate as well, are the parents of four children and they have eight grandchildren.

[John Greaf]
John ‘Jack’ Greaf
FHS class of 1962

John "Jack" Greaf, who graduated in 1962 from Farrell High School, mixed electrical engineering with business savvy to become chairman and chief executive officer of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products.

While he was growing up in Farrell, he hadn't given much thought to life after childhood. He certainly didn't think his future would be linked to Japan.

"I had no vision of what I wanted to do with my future until one of my teachers told me, 'You're going to college,'" Grief said, in recalling those early years. "As I was growing up, I did very well in school. I always enjoyed math, so I figured engineering would be the way to go for me."

From that simple beginning, Greaf charted a career path that led him to the top of a subsidiary of one of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world and gave him a hand in developing the largest high-definition video display screen in the world.

He earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Youngstown State University in 1967, and a master's degree in business administration from YSU in 1975. In between, he earned a master's degree in electrical engineering at the University of Akron in 1970.

After graduating from YSU, he started his career with Westinghouse Electric in technical sales and marketing of large electrical products to the electric utility industry. During his Westinghouse career, he had the chance to work in the international business area that provided an opportunity to travel to more than 40 countries.

He joined a 50/50 joint venture between Westinghouse and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Japan as the manager of marketing in 1986. It became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric in 1989 called Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. and has grown from 10 employees to about 600. He was named president of the company in 2000 and president and chief executive officer in 2004. Today, he is chairman and chief executive officer of the company and serves on its board of directors, as well as the board of Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation.

Among its various products, the company supplies Diamond Vision video screens to stadiums, arenas, and spectacular venues like Times Square. It provided the small video display to YSU stadium and the world's largest video display at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium. Unveiled in September 2009, it is the world's first four-sided, center-hung, high-definition video display in a stadium.

He received the distinguished Alumni Award from the YSU School of Business Administration in 2006. He lives in Wexford, Pa. with Jerilyn, his wife of 40+ years, who graduated from Sharon High School in 1964. He plans to retire this year.

[Donna DeBonis]
Dr. Donna DeBonis
FHS class of 1967

Dr. Donna DeBonis, who graduated from Farrell High School in 1967, has enjoyed a fulfilling career in education, from teaching elementary grades at a local parochial school to becoming superintendent at one of the largest school districts in Mercer County.

After graduation from Farrell High, she attended Edinboro University, graduating in 1971 with a bachelor's in education. She earned a master's in education from Edinboro in 1974 and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1987.

She started teaching grades 4-8 at St. Anthony's School in Sharon from 1971-1976, and later as a reading specialist and consultant at the Shenango Campus of Penn State from 1980-81. From 1976-1989, she was employed by the Farrell Area School District as computer coordinator, a reading specialist in grades 7-12, and computer instructor in grades K-12.

She was hired by the Sharon City School District in 1989 and during a 13-year period until 2002 served in numerous capacities. She was the district's lead grant writer, an educational technology specialist, supervisor of curriculum and instruction, acting superintendent and substitute superintendent.

She was named superintendent of schools in July 2006, a position that she held for four years. For a year until July 2007, she served as chief grant writer for the district. She left the district and became part-owner of GrantWrite Consulting, Inc. and serves as a chief grant writer.

She has been a discussion participant on many occasions, some of which include the Keystone State Reading Association, 1980 Conference, Bloomsburg State Reading Conference, University of Pittsburgh's Computers and Writers Conference, Second Institute on Writing and Thinking in State College, Pa., and the League of Women Voters.

She is proud of her excellent grant writing capabilities, and it has been estimated that she has acquired millions of dollars in funding for her clients throughout the years. Joe Chavara, one of Donna's classmates, said in his nomination of her:

"I have been away from the Shenango Valley since I graduated from Farrell High. I visit often because my family, a large one, still lives there. Because of my family, and because of other connections to the valley, I am well aware of Donna's contributions. I am very proud to tell people that I am from Farrell, and I am very proud that Dr. Donna DeBonis is my high school classmate."

[Michael Wright]
Michael L. Wright
FHS class of 1971

Michael L. Wright, who graduated from Farrell High School in 1971, has contributed mightily to enhancing the quality of life in the area through his dedicated service to the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County and the Urban League of the Shenango Valley. He is the epitome of community service.

From its inception in the mid-1980s until 2005, Michael served as executive director of the Food Warehouse, overseeing its growth from humble beginnings in the basement of The Sharon Herald building to its location in the former First National bank building in Farrell.

After 20 years of service to the warehouse, Michael resigned to become president and chief executive officer of the Urban League, a position where he has used his passion and love for community to further improve the lives of many area residents, young and old alike.

After his graduation from Farrell, Michael earned a bachelor's degree in administration management from Point Park College in Pittsburgh and a master's degree in business administration from Geneva College.

In addition to serving as choral director at Greater Morris Chapel AME Church, he is a member of the Farrell Planning Commission and is a board member of the Laurel Technical Institute and the Food Warehouse. He is an advisory board member of the Neighborhood-Based Family Intervention Center and served on the Farrell Area School Board for nearly 10 years, the last four years as board president.

He has received numerous awards throughout his career, and among them are the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce's Applause Award for service to community, the Pennsylvania Governor's Keystone Award of Merit, NAACP Image Award, the Urban League's Community Service Award, Community Counseling Service's Community Service Award and the Marine Corps League's Distinguished Service Award.

In addition to his role at the Urban League, he continues to be an active participant in programs aimed at making the Shenango Valley area a better place to live and authors a regular column in The Herald called, "The View from My Window."

Michael and his wife Rosalyn live in Farrell and are the parents of two sons, Marcus and Maurice.

[Raymond Nixon]
Raymond L. Nixon (posthumous)
FHS class of 1960

The 2010 posthumous honoree is Raymond Leon Nixon, who used his God-given skills to become an executive in the engineering department for the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City and the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Md.

He graduated from Farrell High School in 1960 and, during his time in Farrell Schools, enjoyed wood shop and playing sports. He attended Virginia State University on a full athletic scholarship and played offensive and defensive end on the university's football team. After graduating from Virginia State in 1964 with a degree in mathematics, he moved to New York, where he lived for the next 25 years, and became a proud father in 1977 to his daughter, Genevieve.

He began his career at the Grand Hyatt New York in 1987 as an assistant in the Engineering Department. In only a short time, he advanced to chief engineering officer under the executive directorship of Donald J. Trump. During his time at the Grand Hyatt, he met and married his wife, Perla, and became a stepfather to her daughter, Yireiza. In 1969, he adopted his two other daughters, Gigi and Anji.

He relocated his new family to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area in 1996 after Genevieve had enrolled at Howard University. He continued his career as the Director of Engineering for the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda.

Meticulous, methodical and passionate about personal development, Raymond was a staunch believer in the pursuit of higher education. He attended night classes for two years at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey and graduated with honors with a dual associate's degree in applied science and heating, refrigeration and air conditioning.

He was an avid supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It was his dream to inspire young people to avail themselves of the opportunities presented at an HBCU. He planned to achieve this dream by creating a magazine called "Black College Talent," about life at HBCUs, geared toward current and future students.

Although he passed away on May 29, 2006, he will always be remembered as a profound husband, father, brother, uncle and friend. He was a man whose life was extraordinary beyond words. He was born May 16, 1942 in Farrell to Wilbert and Arrietta Nixon. He had five brothers, Wilbert, Ronald, Bobby, Charles and Jerome, and a sister, Janice.

As a lasting tribute to his memory and to his dedication to higher education, Genevieve and the family established the Raymond L. Nixon Scholarship Foundation, Inc. in 2007. Its focus is to be able to provide scholarships to aspiring students.

A note of appreciation to Jim Raykie for his efforts in launching the
Hall of Fame Awards and compiling the program which includes the above biographical information.




[Masthead - Herald]

Home indeed where heart is for Farrell alumni

An Editor's Note - By Jim Raykie
The Herald (Sharon, Pa) — October 25, 2010
I have long admired the man whom Farrell and Wheatland folks affectionately call Herky.

"It's the only place that I'm known as Herky Hoffman," said retired Lt. Col. Robert J. Hoffman at the Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Oct. 16 before an audience of 200 at the high school cafeteria.

His comments followed admiring yells of "Herky, Herky" from the crowd when he was introduced, all in reference to the nickname he acquired during his years in the Shenango Valley as a youth in the 1940s and early 1950s.

In addition to his 25-year military career, during which he logged more than 7,000 flying hours, and a 35-year career at Ingersol Rand Co., he was a multi-sport star at Farrell. He graduated in 1952 and was awarded an academic and athletic scholarship to Penn State, where he lettered for two years in football and four years in basketball.

He led Farrell with the legendary Julius McCoy to the 1951 WPIAL football title, and a few months later, teamed with McCoy to help lead the Steelers to Coach Ed McCluskey's first of seven PIAA state basketball crowns.

I had heard stories about his skills and toughness while growing up in Farrell, and had a chance to meet him for the first time in 1984 when he was inducted into the Mercer County Hall of Fame. It was special to get the chance to talk with him.

At the more than 40 various Hall of Fame events that I've attended, one moment defines each of them - an experience that stays with members of the audience years after the banquet. Hoffman, who is Sharon resident Fred Hoffman's brother, provided that moment at the Farrell dinner.

Hoffman and his wife live in Lititz, Pa., and he left his hometown of Wheatland after graduating from Farrell High in 1952. But after nearly 60 years of being removed from Farrell High, he was home again on Saturday night.

After he was introduced and approached the microphone for some comments, he said he was going "to keep things light." He told a funny story about the legendary McCluskey, and after saying he's been away from Farrell for 58 years, he wanted to continue but his voice grew soft and began to crack.

No longer able to control his emotions about his memories and experiences at Farrell, he wept openly, dropped his hand on the podium to say that this was "home," and walked slowly back to the table with his family. The scene was priceless.

The crowd gave him a rousing ovation that lasted for more than a minute. Most of them realized the rush of nostalgia felt by Hoffman and his love for a community and school district. In only about two minutes at the podium, Hoffman paid a terrific compliment to his town and to the people who still call him Herky.

I love people like him. He's a person who has had many successes in his life and has been away from this area since the year I was born. But he has never forgotten his roots, and the flood of emotions that he showed to honor them was memorable, lasting and sincere. He's the real deal.

Hoffman was one of 10 to comment about the Farrell experience. For the sixth year, former students, teachers or administrators have been honored by the Hall, each with a story to tell about their time spent in the district, from elementary schools like J.A. Farrell, Pargny and Eckles to the former junior high at Roemer and Fruit, to the high school.

Joining Hoffman this year were Michael Sabo, Joseph Scarvell, Art Gatty (who fell ill and was unable to attend), Ted Pedas, Dr. Louis Mastrian, Jack Greaf, Dr. Donna Debonis, Michael Wright, and posthumously, Raymond Nixon.

Raymond's wife, Perla, and one of his brothers, Jerome, accepted for him. Jerome, a very successful high school track coach in the Pittsburgh area, is a fellow Class of 1970 alum and is best remembered as one of the unsung heroes in Farrell's march to its sixth basketball state championship in 1969.

We've inducted more than 50 in the Hall, with more worthy candidates waiting in the wings. If you would like to nominate a Farrell graduate who has achieved success and has had a major impact on others in life, call Judi Pendel at 724-509-1310 and she'll point you in the right direction.

Jim Raykie is the editor of The Herald and writes this column on Mondays. His e-mail is jraykie@sharonherald.com or you can find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jim.raykie

Return to Ted Pedas — Index of News Articles


[Masthead - Herald]

Tribute to Arthur A. Gatty

An Editor's Note - By Jim Raykie
The Herald (Sharon, Pa) — November 8, 2010
Arthur Gatty, a 1954 graduate of Farrell High School, was excited about returning to his alma mater to be inducted into the Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame on Oct. 16. He told friend Dr. James G. Kollar of Hermitage and others that of all of his accomplishments, he was most thrilled about the receiving the award because it was coming from his hometown.

Mr. Gatty, who lived with his wife Janet in Fernandina Beach, Fla., stopped by his doctor a few days before the banquet because of gall bladder discomfort, not wanting to risk becoming ill while visiting friends and family in the Shenango Valley.

Tests showed more serious problems. While he was at home waiting to be admitted to a Florida hospital for specialized treatment, he died peacefully but unexpectedly only a little more than a week after getting ready to travel to Farrell. His friends, as you can imagine, are in a state of disbelief. "I was talking to him before he was ready to come up, he was so excited," Kollar said. "He said this award meant more to him than any other he had received. It's unbelievable.

Mr. Gatty, was a director of music at a Pennsylvania high school for 15 years before leaving to become the founding director of the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts in the 1960s. In his 15 years in that role, the school expanded to other disciplines and became a model used by 37 states. Mr. Gatty played piano at the Ritz Carlton in Fernandina Beach for years. In 2006 he entertained at a private Super Bowl party for Sir Paul McCartney and former President Bill Clinton.

George Christoff, a fellow member of the Class of 1954, accepted in Mr. Gatty's behalf at the banquet, echoing the sentiments of Kollar as well as Tony Aiello about their friend. Condolences to his family and his many friends in the Shenango Valley who will miss him dearly.

Jim Raykie is the editor of The Herald. His e-mail is jraykie@sharonherald.com or you can find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jim.raykie

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[2010 Herald]

Jim Raykie is the editor of The Herald. His e-mail is jraykie@sharonherald.com

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