Sunday, July 13, 2014





Valley loses business giants, other notables


February 19. 2013 11:58PM
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Among those area residents who died in 2012 were notable members of the region's business, law enforcement and political communities.


The business community was especially hard hit this year with the deaths of several movers and shakers, including:


• Ron Ertley, 79, a pioneer in the auto sales world, died Jan. 7. He became the first car dealer in the area to combine dealerships, a trend that would become the norm in the country and lead the way to the mega-dealerships of today. The culmination was the creation of Ertley MotorWorld in Plains Township, which opened in 1991.


• Alvin S. Buddy Rothstein, 90, was a war hero, a successful real estate agent and entrepreneur. He died Jan. 25. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three air combat medals for his service as a B-17 bomber pilot in World War II. His plane was shot down four times, once landing in the North Sea and another time in Soviet-occupied Poland. He later founded Rothstein Inc. Realtors, a land-development company and residential construction firm, and built housing developments in Mountain Top, Pittston and Dupont.


• Joseph Doc Mattioli, 86, a dentist who founded and owned Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, died on Jan. 26. Mattioli, an Old Forge native who was a successful Philadelphia dentist in the 1950s before investing in a racetrack built on former spinach fields on the Pocono Plateau, became known for his generosity away from the racetrack. He and his wife of 63 years, Rose, provided annual scholarships to top students at the four Monroe County high schools and donated $100,000 toward the restoration of the Wyoming Monument in Wyoming after a lightning strike caused severe damage to it in 2009.


• Alan J. Finlay, 77, a noted real estate developer, died Jan. 27. His first area business venture was completing the development and operation of the Provincial Towers complex on South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre. In the ensuing decades he added the Wilkes-Barre Center, Bicentennial Building, Midtown Village and Marlboro Place apartments to his holdings. He also was a founding member of the Kirby Center for the Performing Arts and had served on the board of directors of United Penn Bank, Mellon Bank and the Committee for Economic Growth.


• Kal Kazimi, 49, a Jordanian immigrant who worked his way up to become a restaurant owner, died March 7. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 and took a job as a banquet waiter at Genetti Hotel & Convention Center in Wilkes-Barre. Seventeen years later, he opened Kazimi's Restaurant in Kingston.


• George B. Sordoni, 65, a noted community volunteer on several boards, died May 22. One of the founding members of The Luzerne Foundation, he also was a board member of the Geisinger Foundation from 1973 to 2010, and had been on the board of Wyoming Seminary Preparatory School since 1980.


• John E. Walson Jr., 63, who served as chief executive officer and president of Service Electric Cable TV & Communications, died Aug. 19. The son of John E. Walson Sr., well-known as a pioneer in cable television who in 1948 founded what's known today as Service Electric, Walson Jr. is credited with making sure the company remained a relevant player in the cable television industry that blossomed after he took over the company upon his father's death in 1993.


• Robert A. Fortinsky, 87, founded Fortune Fabrics in 1949, becoming a third-generation weaver, and this was his passion until he died Dec. 27. He was past president of Temple Israel in Kingston and the Jewish Community Center in Wilkes-Barre. Thanks to his philanthropy, his family's name is on the HD Theater Audio Suite at WVIA-TV, Fortinsky Hall at Wilkes University and the 142-seat Fortinsky Auditorium on the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus in Lehman Township.


Among the noted elected officials who died this year:


• Charles Lemmond, 83, a former state senator from Lehman Township, died May 30. A senator from 1986 until 2006, the Republican lawmaker represented the 20th Senatorial District. Prior to that, he served as first district attorney in Luzerne County, and in 1980, was appointed by Gov. Dick Thornburgh to serve as a judge of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, where he was the Orphans' Court judge.


• Thomas A. Walsh, 88, who served as a Pittston councilman for 10 years and as mayor of that city for 18 years, died Aug. 13.


• Robert E. Post, 86, a former councilman and mayor in Dallas, died Nov. 9. He also served as owner and operator of Leasing Associates, was a partner in Computerized Mail Services and owner and operator of Inca Company, a manufacturer of specialty concrete products.


• Donald S. Cooper Jr., 74, a former Dallas mayor, died June 4.


Among the notable members of the law enforcement community who died this year:


• James Cheshinski, 60, a former Nanticoke police chief, who died on June 9. He served Nanticoke as a police officer for 41 years, the last nine years as chief.


• Royce E. Engler, a state trooper from Dorrance Township, who died Aug. 29 as a result of a motorcycle accident in Montour Township near Bloomsburg. He was stationed at the Hazleton barracks. Prior to being employed by the state police, he was employed by the North Union Township, Fairview Township and Ashley Borough police departments


• Richard Simonson Sr., 72, a retired West Pittston police chief, died Nov. 24. He served as a police officer in West Pittston for 35 years, working his way through the ranks of patrolman, sergeant and then the chief of police until his retirement in 1998. He then worked as the chief of security at the Luzerne County Courthouse.


Other well-known area residents lost in 2012:


• Lt. Gen. John J. Yeosock, 74, one of the highest ranking military officers from the Wyoming Valley, died Feb. 15. His 33-year military career ended in August 1992, when he retired as a 3-star general. Known as the Pride of Plains Township, he has a room named after him in the Plains Township American Legion Post and at Penn State in the Engineering Department.


• Ann Marie McCawley, 68, who spent 25 years as the director of the St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen on Jackson Street in Wilkes-Barre, died Nov. 16. In addition to her tireless work for the homeless and hungry, she established the Rose of Sharon, a program for pregnant women ages 18 to 25 who need housing.


• Francis Yogi Michael, 65, one of the most notable figures in local wrestling as both an official and a grappler, died Nov. 29. A high school and collegiate referee for 38 years, he was best-known as an official and tournament director for the District 2 Class 3A Championships, where he held the post for eight years.



• Richard B. Dick Cosgrove, 87, a journalist in Northeastern Pennsylvania for more than 70 years and a member of the first Sunday Dispatch staff when the newspaper was founded in 1947, died Jan. 21. The father of Pittston Area School District Superintendent George Cosgrove and former Luzerne County Judge Joseph Cosgrove, his funeral Mass and viewing drew more than 2,200 mourners, including actor Charlie Sheen.


COMING SUNDAY: A look at the area's significant news stories and business developments in 2012, plus a series of quizzes to test readers' knowledge of local entertainment, theater, food and music.




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