WILKES-BARRE — Every day, everyday people perform their everyday duties and most go unnoticed, but not by everybody.
And there are thousands of these people going about their routines every day — all with a specific mission and all with significant impact. Most of these diligent people contribute much to many, but are never the honored guests at any of those big fancy dinners.
Their reward, or honor if you will, comes from those they serve.
Recently, the Greater Wyoming Valley lost two of these contributors and their deaths should not go unnoticed — Durland Edwards and Linda Kohut.
Kohut, of Pittston, passed away Aug. 19 at age 61. She was a 1975 graduate of Pittston Area High School and received her bachelor’s degree in social work from King’s College.
Kohut was employed as director of community services by the Area Agency on Aging — Luzerne and Wyoming Counties, for more than 40 years, and she was a member of several professional organizations.
Her obituary stated that she dedicated her life to the rights of animals, the elderly and children and that she was involved in many community activities too numerous to mention.
”She cared and responded to the needs of any creature or human, especially the needs of her brother, Frank ‘Butch’ Kohut,” the obituary stated.
And it was mentioned she was an avid Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles fan.
This was a life well-lived — filled with service to others. Kohut cared and she devoted herself to doing all she could to help others — humans and animals alike.
Kohut’s exemplary life should be noted. She was valued by many — many who maybe didn’t even know her name. But they did know she was a kind-hearted person who was always there to help.
Kohut will be missed by all who knew her and by those who should have known her and what she meant to this community.
Great American racer
Durland Edwards was a man who loved cars. A native of Luzerne, I met Edwards when I covered the 1986 Great American Race. I was working at another paper back then and I was assigned to cover the cross-country event that began in Anaheim, California, and ended in New York City. The race passed through Wilkes-Barre and the event held its championship dinner in Wilkes-Barre at Genetti’s. There was a staging of all the antique, classic and vintage vehicles in Kirby Park that was attended by hundreds of people.
Edward drove his 1936 Ford Phaeton dubbed “The Spirit of Wilkes-Barre” in the race. He competed in the event in 1987 and again in 1988. Edwards represented the area with class and he loved every minute of it.
The Great American Race is not won by the fastest car — each leg of the race is timed, with specific instructions on how fast the car can go from point to point and the racer who adheres best to the instructions is judged the winner of that leg. Points are awarded to the driver and navigator who come closest to matching a predetermined “perfect time.”
Each day of the event, I would seek out Edwards to ask him how he did and offer any comments about that particular day’s leg. He was always engaging and he always had a good tale to tell of his time on the road. You could tell he enjoyed every second of the event and he was proud to represent his home area. The Times Leader sponsored Edwards in the 1986 race.
Edwards, 87, was residing in Tunkhannock when he died Sept. 2. He graduated from Swoyersville High School in 1949.
His obituary noted he modified many of his own cars, began customizing cars for his friends, then established his own shop behind his father’s gas station at Slocum and Church streets in Swoyersville.
He was a founder of the Gents Motor Club and a member of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Timing Association, which ran the drag races at the Forty Fort Airport. He also helped build his brother David’s very successful dragster.
Edwards would later specialize in the restoration of antique and classic cars — Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Cadillac and the like. His restorations received first-place and national awards from the Antique Automobile Club of America.
Edwards served in the Navy Reserve unit based at Scandlon Field in Kingston during the Korean War era and he was a member of American Legion Post 644, Swoyersville. The obituary noted he always enjoyed fishing at his former cabin at South Eaton and especially at Newboro, Ontario — and he loved his dogs.
Kohut and Edwards are examples of what makes this region so good. They did what they did to help others and they enjoyed their lives to the fullest.
They deserve our sincere thanks.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at [email protected]