ShareThis Page

Scholarship to honor late McKeesport Area educator and sports enthusiast

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Displaying a photo of the late Randy Gwosden, organizers, from left, Jennifer Jordan Mrvos, Becky Gwosden, Sandie McLaughlin and Kerry Pringle plan an April 27 fundraiser for a memorial scholarship in his name.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Ready for the April 27 basketball program to raise funds for the Randy S. Gwosden Scholarship Fund, seated from left, are Robbie Heatherington, Brett Gwosden and Thomas Heatherington; standing, Alexis Maksin, Tiffany Fichera, Bria Gwosden and Laura Grimm.

Friends and family of the late Randy S. Gwosden are remembering the accomplished McKeesport Area educator and sports enthusiast with an alumni basketball event to fund a scholarship in his name.

Randy, an Elizabeth Township resident and McKeesport native, died Jan. 10, 2012, after a year-long battle with multiple myeloma.

Throughout his 35-year teaching career in McKeesport Area School District, he inspired and encouraged many students. He served as an elementary teacher and math coach, providing administrators and teachers with strategies to promote student achievement.

Gwosden, a 1972 graduate of McKeesport Area High School, came to work for the district in 1977 as a fourth-grade teacher at George Washington Elementary. He spent much of his career teaching second grade there.

He was the school's Title I math specialist in 1997 through 2006, when he was promoted to district elementary math coordinator. He was serving in that position when he passed away.

The Randy S. Gwosden Scholarship fund was established to inspire McKeesport Area seniors pursuing educational careers with a focus on mathematics.

Outside of the classroom, Gwosden was a dedicated family man, who loved to watch his children play basketball and soccer through their college years. He played basketball throughout his youth and adulthood, even through the early stages of his illness.

Because of his enthusiasm for the game, organizers chose to raise funds for Gwosden's memorial scholarship with a basketball tournament played by his friends, his students and his children's classmates.

“Initially in January, when it was first proposed, I was very overwhelmed and still learning to live life differently,” Randy's wife, Becky Gwosden, said. “But when we started talking about this scholarship fund again, we wanted to do it right.”

On April 27, Founders Hall Middle School will open its gymnasium for the inaugural Randy S. Gwosden Scholarship Basketball Tournament, with teams including Serra men's and women's alumni, McKeesport Area men's and women's alumni, and adults from Auberle. Halftime events include 50/50 drawings and a Chinese auction. Admission is $5.

“We wanted to create an event that incorporated everything that he loved — basketball, education, his friends and family,” niece Kerry Pringle said.

Randy's sister Sandie McLaughlin agreed he would have enjoyed every aspect of the tournament.

“This is something he would have loved to come to,” she said. “The fact that it is here to raise funds for the students he was so passionate about makes this event the perfect way to remember him.”

Jennifer Jordan Mrvos, who serves on the scholarship committee, said Randy would be humbled by having something so great happening in his name.

“He would be so proud of the game and all of the money being raised, but most proud of the education that these funds will provide,” she said.

Laura Grimm, who will play on the Serra women's alumni team, said there could be no better way to honor Randy.

“He had such an impact on so many kids in so many ways,” she said. “He changed my life, not only as an athlete, but my life off the court as well.”

Bria Gwosden, who will play with Serra alumni, said her father was passionate about everything in life.

“Basketball is part of my life because of him,” she said. “He was my biggest fan, and I'm the person I am today because of him.”

Friends Alexis Maksin and Tiffany Fichera said Gwosden would be proud to see so many McKeesport Area and Serra graduates inspired by him to take part in a school/community program.

“Above everything, he would be so happy that we're all getting together,” Alexis said. “He is the common denominator in all of us.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or