Athletics and academics go hand in hand. That's been the philosophy of the Mercer County Hall of Fame since its inception many years ago.
Adhering to the beliefs of the late Tom Burns, a former president of the association, his legacy lives on.
For the 18th consecutive year, the Mercer County Hall of Fame, along with the Mercer County Sports Radio Network of WPIC-AM (790) and WWIZ-FM (104), have honored the highest ranking male and female senior athletes in each graduating class of all 14 Mercer County high schools.
Through the efforts of Nick Marnejon, awards chairman of the Mercer County Hall of Fame, 28 young athletes were presented with the Tom Burns Academic All-Star Awards, each consisting of $200 savings bonds.
Burns believed in the youth of Mercer County. His utmost efforts were channeled towards sports activities for young athletes. A family man, Burns knew the needs and wants of the community and worked each day to that goal. He was a former teacher, coach, and sports announcer. What better way to be qualified for such a task?
Award winners: This year's list of recipients were: Commodore Perry: Brian Adzima, Ashley Fairlamb; Farrell: Marcellino Manilla, Evette Harris; George Junior Republic: Douglas E. Sheaf: Greenville: Robert Zerr, Jilida Christiansen; Grove City: Nathanial Mclean, Lyndsi Hughs; Hickory: Justin Shaffer, Mariah Giardina; Jamestown: Jacob Russell, Kelly Bauder; Kennedy Catholic: Christopher Yanek, Colleen Werner; Lakeview: Adam Wick, Stacey Hettick; Mercer: Luke Rust, Susan Ellis; Reynolds: Daniel Palyo, Catherine Woods; Sharon: Daniel Gill, Nicole Reed, Ashley Elford; Sharpsville: Micheal Wiseman, Jill Cataldi; West Middlesex: Josh Swetlech, Lindsay Darling.
Hanley dies: At one time, Patrick "Pat" J. Hanley and I lived on the same street in Sharpsville, and like most people in Blue Devil town, we knew each other like everyone knew everyone else. At times, he would stop at the house because he was a friend of my brother, Bill.
The only thing I knew about Hanley was the fact that he was a member of Sharpsville High's undefeated 1946 championship football team. That made him No. 1 in my book.
The former Blue Devil stalwart passed away recently in Kaiser Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif., after an extended illness. He was 73.
Standout: "Hamo," as he was known to his friends in those days, was a gentleman and a fierce competitor. Along with his football talents, he was just as adept on the baseball field. He was, in all phases, a great athlete.
Hanley was back in the area several years ago and telephoned to catch on the sports scene in the valley, and to inquire about many of his friends as to their whereabouts.
An Army veteran, he served in the Korean conflict. And he was employed locally at the Westinghouse Transformer Division before traveling to the West Coast. In 1958, he earned a business degree at Youngstown College.
At reunion: In 1997, Hanley returned to the area to attend a reunion of the unbeaten Blue Devil team of 1946. It was the 50th anniversary of that Blue Devil Powerhouse.
"Hamo" retired in March of this year from Maintex Chemical Corporation in Los Angeles, where he was employed in sales. He graduated from Sharpsville High in 1947.
An ardent follower of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, he was also an avid golfer. Our sincere sympathy to Hanley's wife, Olive, to his family and many friends.