West Pittston Moose Lodge celebrates 105th anniversary; George Nisky honored

By Gene Axton - For Sunday Dispatch
Moose Gov. Doug Warbeck, left, congratulates 92-year-old George Nisky on his years of service as a long-standing member of the Moose Lodge in West Pittston. To the right is Brian Thornton, Moose Community Service director. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Brian Thornton announces longstanding member George Nisky to the crowd at the Moose Lodge on Nov. 9 during the organization’s 105th birthday party. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Classic Rock Express provided entertainment for the West Pittston Moose Lodge’s 105th birthday party. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Rachael Luton, of Wilkes-Barre, has been a bartender/server at the Moose Lodge for nearly three years. - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

WEST PITTSTON – They call him the anniversary man.

The last time 92-year-old George Nisky entered Moose Lodge 1207 was for the organization’s 2012 centennial. Five years later, Nisky — a member of the Lodge since 1945 — made the trek from Wyoming Manor Personal Care Center on a snowy Sunday evening to celebrate the Moose’s 105th year with food, live music and fellow Moose members.

“I was still thrilled when I came to this building even today,” Nisky said on Dec. 10. “I’m a Moose member and that’s it.”

Nisky was drafted out of his senior year at Exeter High School and served as a radio operator in Europe during World War II. When he returned, he took a job at Dury Clothing, a pants factory in West Pittston, where he worked alongside Paul Heim, then-governor of Moose Lodge 1207. When Nisky’s wife Mary expressed interest in the Moose’s annual New Year’s Eve party, Nisky approached Heim about membership.

Since then, Nisky has served as Moose Lodge 1207’s governor — and in every other chair available within the organization. Current Governor Doug Warabak said Nisky’s Moose career went as far as the state level, where he served as deputy supreme governor of Pennsylvania Moose Association, the second most powerful chair in the state.

Warabak said he attempted to compile a biography of Nisky to garner a lifetime achievement award for the Moose veteran, but found it difficult to gather information.

“He’s advanced in age to where nobody knows him,” Warabak said. “There’s only one member in the whole state who remembers George.”

Moose Lodge 1207 member Joe Gillespie doesn’t remember Nisky as a fellow Moose member; he remembers him as a supervisor. When Gillespie was young, he worked with Nisky at Dury Clothing — just like his grandfather, Heim.

“He was always the sweetest guy, never got flustered,” Gillespie said of Nisky. “His family and mine would go on vacation together to Asbury Park.”

Gillespie also has fond memories of the Moose. He said he practically grew up in the organization’s 425 Exeter Ave., West Pittston social hall, parading his Halloween costumes every October and sharing his Christmas list with Santa every December.

His grandfather and father are former governors, and he is a former child of Moose members who’s happy to perpetuate the traditions for the current generation.

“It’s just a family, you know,” Gillespie said. “It’s great to be part of the Moose family.”

It’s a 105-year-old family over which Governor Warabak now presides.

“Organizations don’t stay around this long; they don’t survive, so there’s got to be some good basic values to us.”

For Nisky, those values were paramount to his continued membership.

“We want to do a lot of charity work and that’s what I believe in, doing charity work,” Nisky said. “I have no children, so I figured, hey, I might as well do something for the people because I love people and I love kids growing up and doing the right thing.”

Moose efforts include bell ringing for the Salvation Army, sponsoring a West Pittston Little League team and supporting other local youth sports programs with initiatives like The Moose Cup, awarded annually to the winner of Pittston Area High School and Wyoming Area Secondary Center’s junior varsity football game.

When he was an active member of the Moose Lodge, Nisky’s preferred charity was American Red Cross and its blood drives. He said he donated eight gallons of blood in his lifetime, and his passion for the cause drove him to enroll in his first and only college course.

“I took public speaking so I could go out and talk about blood drives,” Nisky said. “I went to different Moose lodges talking about blood drives. I was thrilled to do that.”

Looking into the future, Warabak said Moose Lodge 1207 is “shooting for plus-one in membership.” The organization wants to retain and grow so it can improve and expand its projects.

Warabak’s objectives align with Nisky’s favorite aspects of the fraternal organization he served for the majority of his life.

“My favorite part was meeting new people and enjoying people as they come in to have fun the right way,” Nisky said.

Moose Gov. Doug Warbeck, left, congratulates 92-year-old George Nisky on his years of service as a long-standing member of the Moose Lodge in West Pittston. To the right is Brian Thornton, Moose Community Service director.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Moose-1-1.jpgMoose Gov. Doug Warbeck, left, congratulates 92-year-old George Nisky on his years of service as a long-standing member of the Moose Lodge in West Pittston. To the right is Brian Thornton, Moose Community Service director. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Brian Thornton announces longstanding member George Nisky to the crowd at the Moose Lodge on Nov. 9 during the organization’s 105th birthday party.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Moose2-1.jpgBrian Thornton announces longstanding member George Nisky to the crowd at the Moose Lodge on Nov. 9 during the organization’s 105th birthday party. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Classic Rock Express provided entertainment for the West Pittston Moose Lodge’s 105th birthday party.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Moose3-1.jpgClassic Rock Express provided entertainment for the West Pittston Moose Lodge’s 105th birthday party. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Rachael Luton, of Wilkes-Barre, has been a bartender/server at the Moose Lodge for nearly three years.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Moose4-1.jpgRachael Luton, of Wilkes-Barre, has been a bartender/server at the Moose Lodge for nearly three years. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

By Gene Axton

For Sunday Dispatch

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.