Jim Raykie

Jim Raykie

It's good when people are recognized for their efforts while they can enjoy the accolades, rather than wait like we do too many times and bestow the honors after they have passed.

Such was the case recently at the Farrell Italian Home, where the bocce complex was named in honor of the club’s long-time manager Bill Marks.

Bill not only attended the fete, but was ready to throw a few balls on the courts in the Farrell Italian Home William F. Marks Bocce Complex.

Club members Joe Santell, Frank Toskin, Mike Erme, and Jim Tamber coordinated the event.

Marks spent three decades as the face of the Italian Home as its manager, ably guiding the historic organization during both the good times and the not-so-good throughout the years.

The club continues to thrive, as it remains one of only a handful of social ethnic clubs that has survived the social changes in the last 20 years.

Farrell, a hotbed of diverse ethnicity, boasted a social home and organization for almost every nationality represented within its borders, all offering great ethnic food and gathering place for residents.

Like so many service clubs and organizations, a lack of new volunteers and members to actively replace leaders who have died have led to the demise of many of the Farrell clubs, such as the German Home, Polish Home and Serbian Club. The Italian Home’s next-door neighbor on Spearman Avenue, The Slovak Home, is one of the others with its doors still open.

I met Bill in the mid-1970s when I joined The Herald as a rookie reporter. One of my first orders of business was to get a membership to the Italian Home with my buddy and fellow reporter and photographer, Dave Paczak. It was the place to be as a reporter, because anything you wanted to know about Farrell and the school district could be learned within its walls – and the food and drinks were both great and cheap.

My late father-in-law, Joe Hichik, was a long-time member and officer of Mercer County Veteran Boxers Association, Ring 5, which had its regular meetings and banquets at the Club.

In its heyday, Ring 5 brought several of the country’s leading boxers to the club as guests at its banquets, and after he became club manager in the late 1960s, Bill was always in the middle that action.

Bill has slowed down a little in recent years but couldn’t curb his enthusiasm during the dedication at the place he called his “home” for many years.

Herald donates $938 to Yellow Ribbon Families

I don’t often do this in my column, but I am compelled to respond to critics of The Herald’s efforts to recognize veterans through two pages of names, as submitted by families for a nominal $2 charge per name.

Some readers, who were upset because they thought that the type was too small, responded that The Herald didn’t really care about veterans, but only concerned with its bottom line.

Facts are that the entire $2 collected for each name, a total of $938, was donated to the Yellow Ribbon Families – in essence making the pages a fundraiser while providing families an opportunity to recognize their special veterans. Throughout the years, The Herald has donated some $5,000 to the Yellow Ribbon Families from donations to the veterans pages.

I had one caller complain that the county Veterans Affairs group left out his son. I explained that Veterans Affairs had nothing to with the list, which was dependent on submissions from local residents, as was outlined in advertising messages printed in The Herald well in advance of Veterans Day.

I look forward to the page every year, knowing that my daughter Jamie has contributed in the names of her grandfathers – my dad and my father-in-law.

JIM RAYKIE is the executive editor of The Herald. His column appears on Mondays.

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