Lower Burrell ad director 'right man at the right time'
Bill Rusiewicz remembers mentioning to his friend and fellow Lower Burrell resident George “Bill” “Scotty” Scott that he had never been to a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game.
A few days later, Scott, the advertising director for the Valley News Dispatch, came to pick Rusiewicz up at his funeral home along with five advertisers and took them to a Pirates game.
If that wasn't enough, Scott repeated that scene a few months later when he learned that Rusiewicz had never been to a Steelers game.
“Scotty was that type of guy: he was always in a good mood, always jolly and always had a good time,” Rusiewicz said. “He was a pleasure to be around.”
George Scott, who started working for the Valley News Dispatch as a newspaper carrier and worked his way up to lead the advertising department, died Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Allegheny Valley Hospital, Harrison, and was laid to rest Wednesday. He was 83.
Rusiewicz said going to the sporting events led Mr. Scott, Rusiewicz and one of the advertisers, Bill Keenley, the manager of the former J.C. Penney store in Lower Burrell, to meet for lunch.
“We had such a good time, we said we would do it once a month,” Rusiewicz said. “And then pretty soon it was three or four times a month.”
It branched out from lunches to doing everything from taking in an opera to visiting a museum to making a road trip to Foxburg to see the country's first golf course.
Rusiewicz said they came to call themselves the “Three Boys Bill.”
“We did that for, maybe, eight or 10 years, so we called it a ‘cultural and educational symposium,' ” Rusiewicz said, chuckling at the memory.
Although, Mr. Scott enjoyed a good time, he was serious when it came to the advertising business, according to one of the people who worked under him.
“Scotty could be tough to work with but he was a student of the advertising business,” said Asa Christy of Lower Burrell, a former Valley News Dispatch advertising associate. “He taught me more in the first five years working at the Valley News than I could have learned anywhere else in 50 years. He was very good in marketing, too.
“We worked very closely with all the merchant groups then,” he said. “Back then, the merchant groups were pretty important to their communities.
“I would say generally speaking, most of the merchants and the advertisers liked him and respected him,” Christy said. “That's very important today.”
Rod Altmeyer, who operates a chain of home furnishings and dry-goods stores that his family founded in New Kensington, was one of those businessmen. He knew “Scotty” all of his life.
“He and I knew each other from school days, really, and we lived across the street from each other,” Altmeyer said. “We would play street football on Leishman Avenue after school at night.”
He said they remained friends and went out on double-dates with their girlfriends.
“We were also fishing buddies,” he said. “That was one of our hobbies, trout fishing. Every year a gang of us would go up to Canada to fish and ‘Scotty' was part of that group.”
When the late VND Publisher Gene Simon had to name an ad director, he said, “It was very important that the right man handle it for the paper.”
Paul Hess, retired Valley News Dispatch editor, said Simon chose wisely.
“Scotty was not a salesman who simply wanted to bring revenue into the newspaper,” Hess said. “He considered that his role was more than that: that his role was to help the business people make the best out of their business that they can. That's why the paper was so successful.”
Hess said Mr. Scott taught him a lot about the advertising business even though he was a newsman. He said Mr. Scott had integrity in what he did and as a result, business people would not hesitate to buy ads from him.
“I really believe that Scotty was a key to New Ken's thriving business community when the stores were still open,“ Hess said.
Christy added: “He was definitely the right man at the right time.”
He was buried Wednesday in Greenwood Memorial Park, Lower Burrell.
The Valley News Dispatch will occasionally run obituary stories on notable local residents. They are news items and as such, no charge is applied. The subjects of these stories are solely the discretion of the editors. Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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