Last updated: February 20. 2013 12:04AM - 768 Views

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Greater Pittston, sadly, is a little less bright.

More than 1,140 members of the Greater Pittston family died in 2012, according to archived obituaries that appeared in the Sunday Dispatch

A woman born and raised in Pittston.

A surviving family member who now lives in Exeter.

A worker in Duryea.

A graduate of the former West Pittston High School.

All deaths are notable, for one reason or another, but one particularly notable is artist Joe Borini.

The headline read: He colored our world, and chances are if you're from Greater Pittston, you've likely encountered Borini's works.

Two of his historical-themed murals fill the walls of Savo's Pizza.

And there's a 124-foot Borini mural in Gerrity's supermarket in West Pittston.

Then there's the outside wall of the VFW on Main Street in Dupont

Borini, 82, who died on Oct. 30, was Pittston's unofficial resident artist and mural painter. He worked in different mediums, but was probably best known for his large-scale patriotic and Pittston history-themed murals.

Hundreds of smaller prints of Borini drawings of historical Main Street in Pittston, the Lehigh Valley Passenger Station and other local history scenes can be found in homes and businesses throughout the local area and beyond. Drawings of Pittston City, the Laurel Line, a train and a breaker are displayed in the American Embassy in Japan.

When I was a kid, I couldn't stand white paper lying around, Borini said during an interview. I remember my mother had wallpaper and I knew there would be some left over and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it so I could paint on it.

He left behind three daughters, Ann Marie Borini-Ahmed, Gracelyn Borini and Johnna Borini-Casper, five grandchildren and two sisters.

Former Pittston Mayor Thomas A. Walsh died Aug.19 at the age of 88 after a prolong illness.

Former Mayor Michael Lombardo, who brought down Walsh's nearly 20-year legacy in the mayor's office, said much of the downtown renovations that have become apparent over the past year started under the administration of Mayor Walsh. And as downtown redevelopment continues, it's unfair not to mention Mayor Walsh. He really started the ball moving on progress in the downtown.

Walsh served as a councilman in the city for 10 years and as mayor for 18 years. He was defeated by Lombardo in a heated Democratic primary in 1998.

For Lombardo, his only differences with Walsh were political. Tom Walsh was a class act, he said. He cared about the city before he was mayor. He cared about the city while he was mayor. He cared about the city after he was mayor.

The annual Pittston Tomato Festival was started under the Walsh administration.

Walsh is survived by his grandson, Joshua Walsh, two great-granddaughters and a brother.

West Pittston political fixture Sam Agolino Jr. died on Sep. 23

Aggie, as he was called, was employed as supervisor of building and grounds for Luzerne County for 13 years, and had helped his brother, Joe, in the family business, Agolino's on Luzerne Avenue.

He served two terms on the Wyoming Area School Board and loved everything involving politics.

Agolino was photographed with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama a little over four years ago. The photo showed ‘Aggie' seated at a lunch counter in the Avenue Diner in Wyoming and listening attentively to him was Obama, who was eating a slice of banana cream pie. But Agolino wasn't one to seek headlines, instead preferring to provide advice to those who sought him out.

Surviving are his brother, Joseph A. Agolino; and sisters, Marie Quinn, Sandra Charney and Barbara Davis.

Duryea and the surrounding community lost one of its spiritual leaders on July 11 when The Rev. Charles Rokosz, 67, died.

Rokosz's administrative, financial, structural and organizational skills served him well as leader of the Duryea Catholic community, but his unwavering spiritual leadership made him shine.

Msgr. John J. Bendik described Rokosz as as a gentle soul, soft spoken and very loving. He was admired and respected by his people and his peers because he was such a kind and loving man, Bendik said. He was a model for us priests because he was such a good shepherd.

Rokosz, a Plymouth native, attended Saint Mary's, Plymouth; Saint Vincent's High School, Plymouth; St. Charles Seminary, Catonsville, Md.; and St. Pius X Seminary, Dalton. He was ordained on May 9, 1970. His first pastor assignment was at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hughestown on Jan. 13, 1984. He took over at Holy Rosary on June 20, 1991.

Rokosz presided over a tumultuous time in the parish, when the three Duryea churches were ultimately merged into one. The borough of about 4,500 had three churches, each representing its own parish. But dwindling population, church budget crunches, priest shortages and a changing society led the Diocese of Scranton to decide to close many churches and consolidate others.

Duryea was not immune. The first was St. Joseph's, which shut its doors in March 2010 and saw its parish merged with Holy Rosary. Then came word that Sacred Heart of Jesus would also be closed, though the church was given a reprieve as a worship site within the new parish. On Nov. 28, 2010, Holy Rosary parish was also closed. All three were merged into a new parish with a new name, Nativity of Our Lord.

Rokosz is survived by brothers, John and Walter, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Former Luzerne Intermediate Unit Executive Director Michael M. Ostrowski, 61, lost a courageous battle with cancer on Sept. 2.

Ostrowski's career in special education began at the White Haven Center in 1973. He had also worked at Wyoming Area High School, Wilkes-Barre Career and Technical Center and as vocational coordinator for the Luzerne Intermediate Unit. He retired in November 2009 as executive director of the Luzerne Intermediate Unit. He also served as an adjunct professor at Marywood University and King's College.

He dedicated his entire career for the benefit of children.

Ostrowski's sense of humor was unmistakable. He knew thousands of jokes, it seemed, and never hesitated to tell one.

And his music taste was impeccable. At his viewing, his children had Ostrowski's iPod playing, which included Cream and Van Morrison.

He coached Little League baseball, soccer and basketball and was a former board member of the Pocono Pirates ice hockey organization.

Surviving are his wife of 38 years, Lois Baker Ostrowski; a daughter, Samantha; a son, Christopher; a sister and a brother.

Longtime area journalist Richard B. Cosgrove died on Jan. 21.

His journalism career lasted more than 70 years, with much of it at the Sunday Dispatch. He started with the paper's first edition in 1947 and stayed here for more than 50 years. He also worked for The Times Leader, the Scrantonian and Scranton Tribune and the Citizens' Voice. While at the Dispatch, Cosgrove held such varied positions as reporter, writer, columnist and advertising manager, as well as editor of the newspaper's senior edition, Prime Time.

He was a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Pittston, and its Holy Name Society, a member and past grand knight of President John F. Kennedy Council 372 of the Knights of Columbus in Pittston, member and past president of the Serra Club of Wyoming Valley. He was a life member of the Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and was named its Man of the Year in 2001.

In 2006, Cosgrove received an honorary doctorate degree in humanities from King's College, Wilkes-Barre, for his work in journalism and his service to his church.

He left behind two sons, George and Joseph, two granddaughters and two siblings.

Former Wyoming Area school board member Thomas Kearns Sr. died on Nov. 2 at the age of 81.

He was an architect, educator, volunteer and lifelong resident of West Pittston.

His professional career spanned five decades beginning as a college professor at The Pennsylvania State University prior to working as a registered architect and professional engineer. As proprietor of architectural firms in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Kearns' architectural work was spread throughout the northeast from Boston to Virginia. Some of his proudest architectural work was centered around educational projects at The Pennsylvania State University - University Park and Scranton campuses - and many local colleges and school districts.

Throughout his life, Kearns volunteered his time and expertise to dozens of civic and community organizations, including the Pittston Kiwanis Club, Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, West Pittston Cherry Blossom Festival Committee, Wyoming Area Football Parents Association, Wyoming Area School Board, Steamtown USA Foundation, Red Cross, West Pittston Ambulance Association and the Pittston YMCA.

He led the effort by the Wyoming Area Football Parents that was instrumental in salvaging and relocating the Wyoming Area Victory Bell from the old West Pittston High School to its current location at the school's football field.

Kearns' proudest work was with the students of the Wyoming Area School District and specifically the WA Drama Department. He loved sharing his love and knowledge of the theater with the drama students and spent countless hours working with them designing and constructing theatrical sets. He organized visits from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Frank and Malachy McCourt, tours of the New York City theater district and behind-the-scene tours of the Metropolitan Opera House to further the growth and interest in theater arts. Along with his family, Kearns has established an yearly scholarship for a senior member of the drama department.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia; and four sons, Thomas Jr., John, Patrick and Matthew; and four grandchildren.

World War II veteran Michael J. Butera, 89, of West Pittston, died on June 6

He was the sole proprietor of Butera's Bar, South Main Street., Wilkes-Barre, and later retired from the Luzerne County Institution District as a field investigator. After retirement, he tended bar at numerous establishments throughout Luzerne County. He served in the U.S. Army Combat Unit in the European Theater during World War II, fought in five major battles, including the Battle of the Bulge and received the Purple Heart for combat wounds, as well as the Silver Star.

Surviving are his wife, Lorraine Ritts Butera; his children, Attorney Michael I. Butera, Peter Butera and Margaret Butera Grimes; grandchildren and great grandchildren and two brothers.

Greater Pittston's spiritual community suffered another loss with the passing of The Rev. Hugh McGroarty.

Father Hugh, as he was known, died April 16 at the age of 92.

He was the oldest assigned priest in the Diocese of Scranton, having served for 66 years.

Dr. John Callahan of Dallas knew McGroarty for 25 years and was part of a daily breakfast crew called the Romeos (Retired Old Men Eating Out). Callahan spoke of McGroarty's passion for his religious calling. He said a wonderful Mass. He was a great homilist. He loved the poor. He'd do anything to help where he could. He was never too busy to spend time with the needy.

McGroarty was born in Plains Township on Dec. 30, 1919. He was educated in Plains schools, The University of Scranton and at Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 22, 1945, in St. Peter's Cathedral, Scranton, by the Rev. William J. Hafey, D.D., late Bishop of Scranton. He served in various capacities in numerous churches throughout the diocese.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, who presided over McGroarty's funeral Mass mourned the loss of a remarkable priest.

I've had the privilege of knowing Father McGroarty for almost 30 years. Whether it was serving as a priest in my home parish years ago or, more recently, in his position as senior priest in St. John the Evangelist Parish, his wit, his energy and especially his faith and love for the priesthood and the church were palpable, Bambera said. Countless numbers of lives are richer today for having been touched by the priestly ministry of this remarkable man who served the Lord for so many years.

Father Hugh is survived by nieces and nephews.

Late September was filled with tears for much of the Pittston Area community.

The deaths of two students a week apart started a conversation about suicide and bullying that ripples throughout the Wyoming Valley.

Matthew M. Montagna, 16, a junior from Jenkins Township, and Jamie Baker, 15, a sophomore from Avoca, ended their own lives less than a week apart, on Sept. 21 and Sept. 24, respectively.

On Sept. 19, nearly 1,000 people, mostly teens, gathered with candles on the track surrounding Albert P. West Park. Their silence was pierced with sobs.

It may have been billed as an anti-bullying rally, but it quickly turned into a memorial service for Montagna and Baker.

Monica Thomas of Plymouth, co-founder of Parents Advocating for Safe Schools, organized the vigil to draw attention to bullying in schools and how it can be a factor in the epidemic of teen suicides and to let the victims of bullying know there is help available.

The kids need to be aware that there are people around that can help them, Thomas said.

The evening ended with a prayer from the Rev. Daniel Schwebs, OSJ, of St. Joseph's Oblate Seminary in Laflin.

After listening to all of you this evening, it shows how much you loved these two people – both Matthew and Jamie, Schwebs said.

He ordered a moment of silence and led the crowd in The Lord's Prayer.

The vigil ended with the Green Day song, Wake Me Up When September Ends.

Compiled from reports published in the Sunday Dispatch.

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