Tag Archives: aliquippa

Center Twp. dentist hits the links for more than a couple of rounds of charity

Photo by Emily Matthews

Link: http://www.timesonline.com/community/news/center-twp-dentist-hits-the-links-for-more-than-a/article_5800303e-5dbb-11e7-a6b1-0319ff92ceca.html

By Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times

HOPEWELL TWP. — Rick Gradisek teed off Thursday morning when the birds first started chirping, and he did not plan to pack up his clubs until they stopped.

For 28 years, Gradisek has participated in a charity golf marathon called the Longest Day of Golf, an all-day, 16-hour event that benefits the American Cancer Society through pledged donations.

Gradisek, a dentist from Center Township, and three other golfers started the event in 1990 and played 54 holes, a long shot from the team record set in 2013 of 263 holes, Gradisek said. Each June, Gradisek and a changing group of companions try to break their record by a few holes more.

“Our goal is to play as many rounds of golf as we can,” Gradisek said. “It’s a breeze.”

This year, Gradisek played the course unaccompanied by additional golfers for the first time, beginning at 5:14 a.m. Only his dental partner Dr. George Mistovich, of Center, and friend Cindy Kuton, of Coraopolis, trailed his fast-paced cart, keeping score and delivering refreshments when needed.

Mistovich has golfed in the event four times and played in the original in 1990. Kuton golfed once in the event with a group of four women, who covered 54 holes during the day.

First held at Black Hawk Golf Course in Chippewa Township, the Longest Day of Golf moved in its second year to the Club at Shadow Lakes in Hopewell Township. The club allows Gradisek to start before sunrise and play the course for free throughout the day.

“The generosity of the members is so accommodating,” Kuton said as Gradisek prepared to drive a ball down the 17th hole. “They even provided lunch for him.”

In 2014, Gradisek had to postpone the event to October after undergoing a hip replacement. He played 126 holes that year.

On Thursday, Gradisek broke his solo record of 272 holes in 2016 by playing through 275 by the time he wrapped up at 8:45 p.m.

“(Thursday) had to be as perfect of a day as any,” Gradisek said. “There was a slight breeze, no humidity and none of the predawn fog that sometimes happens. It was as perfect as can be.”

Along with being a longtime golfer and dentist, Gradisek served more than 20 years on the Beaver County board of the American Cancer Society. Kuton held a spot on the board, as well, before it moved to Pittsburgh in 2014 as a consolidation group.

The idea for the event had already existed in the organizations charity canon, but Gradisek championed the idea with his affinity for golf and devotion to the charity.

“I told them I would do (the Longest Day of Golf) as a fundraiser,” Gradisek said. “Cancer affected people who were friends and relatives. Only four years after I become active with the charity, my father died of colon cancer.”

In addition to Gradisek, Kuton and Mistovich have dealt with cancer firsthand, dedicating parts or all of their Thursday to a personal cause.

Gradisek said that friends, family and people subscribed to a mailing list pledge a donation either based on a flat rate or by the amount of holes the group plays. For example, pledging 10 cents per hole with a total of 275 holes would amount to $27.50.

“A few people still pledge a dollar per hole, but most people give a flat rate,” he said. “In 1990, pledging money was en vogue, but now it’s a lot of extra work.”

The event brings in around $5,000 to $10,000 each year, Gradisek said. He said the exact figure of this year’s earnings will not be known until the fundraising portion of the event concludes. He plans to possibly use GoFundMe in the future.

After finishing the 275th hole of the day, Gradisek said he took a shower then enjoyed dinner and a cold beer with his brother and a few friends.



‘Queen Aliquippa’ returned to family of painter

Photo by Sylvester Washington

Link: http://www.timesonline.com/community/news/queen-aliquippa-returned-to-family-of-painter/article_4ae38868-578c-11e7-9e1c-8f990aed9f4d.html

By Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times

ALIQUIPPA — Alice Kirby never thought she would reunite with a particular painting her father created early in his life.

At 19 years old, Charles Williams, Kirby’s father, painted a portrait of Queen Aliquippa on a noncanvas pressboard and donated it to Aliquippa High School, his alma mater, in 1933.

The swirling painting depicts the eponymous Native American woman from the 18th century, who led a Seneca tribe in western Pennsylvania. Significant enough to have George Washington seek her company, Queen Aliquippa now primarily lives on through the town to which she gave her name.

Williams’ “Queen Aliquippa” remained on display in the school building’s entrance for the next 76 years.

During the painting’s extended exhibition, Williams worked at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, an art institution, during the Great Depression before returning to western Pennsylvania to work at J&L Steel Corp. as a roll grinder.

However, despite taking on a trade to support his family, he valued art and painting above all else, Kirby said.

Along with “Queen Aliquippa,” Williams created paintings of his daughter, his wife, also named Alice, and his father-in-law using charcoal, landscapes and still lifes. He partook in plein air, or outdoor, painting in scenic local spots, as well.

Williams died in 1972, with his paintings and sculptures going to his son and Kirby’s brother, Bill Williams, in Spokane, Wash.

Alice Kirby and her friend Rose John, whom she now travels here to visit from Atlanta, grew up in Center Township and attended Aliquippa High in the early 1960s, when they experienced the painting of the Native American leader firsthand each morning.

“As you walked in the main entrance, you could see it hanging on the wall. You were so used to seeing it that you almost didn’t notice it,” Kirby said.

Recently, Kirby traveled back to Pennsylvania and wanted to see if she could buy the painting from the school. She contacted the junior and high school building secretary, Kathleen Dulaney, to try to make an offer.

“She was trying to get a hold of it for years,” John said. “We didn’t know where it was.”

After the district razed the old high school building in 2009, it kept the painting in a storage room for eight years, Dulaney said. But after some searching, the painting resurfaced.

“She called up asking for the picture,” Dulaney said. “I asked the superintendent if she could buy it, and he said we could just donate it to her.”

After nearly 30 years of perseverance, Kirby finally gained ownership of her father’s painting from Aliquippa Principal Alvin B. Gipson on Tuesday.

“They were kind enough to donate it to us,” Kirby said. “Instead of throwing it away, they stored the picture for eight years, which is unusual since it was in bad shape. It’s really something.”

John, who will ship the painting to Georgia for Kirby, said it is in decent condition but is “rough around the edges with a couple of cracks.” Kirby said she plans to have it restored to recapture its former effect.

“I never thought I would get that painting back in my wildest dreams,” Kirby said. “I have a lot of paintings but none mean as much as this particular painting. It was my father’s past, and I just feel elated.”

In addition to Williams’ past, Kirby said the painting captures the cultural significance of its namesake town.

“To me, it resembles Aliquippa itself,” Kirby said. “It was the (school’s) mascot, and everybody knew the painting. It makes me proud, and it was a wonderful feeling to be given it.”

Shortly after the donation, “Queen Aliquippa” even drew immediate recognition from a former Aliquippa teacher.

“When I took the painting (to John’s house), (Rose LaSala), who was a music teacher at Aliquippa, came in and said, ‘That’s Queen Aliquippa. How’d you get that here?’” Kirby said.

Kirby said she plans to give the painting to her son, Chucky, so that it can pass down through a third and eventually a fourth generation in her family.