Dunbar Township graduates lose teacher, dear friend
By Laura Szepesi
Published: Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 7:00 a.m.
George Zubeck delivered more than medicine to a Greensburg area nursing home this past summer. He conjured up long-lost memories of Dunbar Township High School for one of its teachers, Joseph Metil.
Metil passed away at age 87 in December, but during the summer before his death was able to share tidbits of information about his years at DTHS, which merged with Connellsville Joint High School in 1966-1967. He was one of DTHS's last surviving teachers — maybe the last. His death marks the final chapter of “The buff brick school atop Leisenring hill,” as so many loyal Dunbar Township Mules call it.
Zubeck arranged to visit Metil last summer, taking the “Beal twins” — Joan Beal John and June Beal — with him.
The lifelong Leisenring resident worked for UPS for 30 years and after retiring found that he missed making deliveries to people. He now works part time for Hunter Pharmacy in Connellsville and is back on the road, delivering prescriptions instead of packages and envelopes. One day last year, he was handed medication for a Joseph Metil.
“I didn't graduate from Dunbar Township; I went to Connellsville after the merger,” Zubeck said. However, his older siblings attended DTHS and Zubeck recognized Metil's name.
Just by coincidence
Curious, he made it a point to meet Metil when dropping off the medicine. “I said, ‘I knew a Joe Metil who taught at Dunbar Township High School,' and he replied, ‘That's me.' I couldn't believe it; I just ran into him out of the clear blue,” Zubeck exclaimed. “It was like a miracle!”
Armed with old photos of the school, Zubeck and the Beal sisters went back to visit the elderly teacher, whose eyes misted with tears at the sight of his old workplace. “Yoy, yoy, yoy. Oh, boy. Oh, my Lord!” he said, kissing the black-and-white photograph. “Beautiful, beautiful Leisenring!”
Frail and feeble, Metil haltingly recalled teaching at DTHS as the best years of his life. He must have loved it, indeed, as he trekked to Leisenring daily all the way from Marguerite, a former coal mining “patch” located between Mt. Pleasant and Latrobe. He traveled by streetcar.
Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Metil immigrated to America as a child. His family settled near Marguerite, where his father found work — like thousands of other immigrants — in the area's coal mines.
“Marguerite was named for the coal mine superintendent's wife,” Metil explained.
‘Rusyn – NOT Russian'
His eyes twinkling, he remembered that he was called a “Hunky,” but emphasized his heritage as “Rusyn – NOT Russian.” (Rusyn is an Eastern Slavic language spoken by the Carpatho-Rusyns of Central Europe.)
Lacking transportation when he was growing up in Marguerite, Metil walked to Latrobe High School when he was a teenager, hitchhiking when he could thumb a ride. After high school, he received a college degree at St. Vincent College in Latrobe and attended its seminary, but he didn't enter the priesthood. He found another calling instead. After serving with the Marine Corps in World War II, he wound up teaching Latin to high school students in Leisenring.
June and Joan Beal — who, now well into their 60s, still look like two peas in a pod — fondly remember Metil's kind instruction. Their Class of 1962 had 83 graduates and memories galore, they said.
June, a retired Connellsville Area School District custodian, had Metil for study hall. “He was so nice to us but was a strict disciplinarian. You paid attention and did your schoolwork!”
“He came all the way from Marguerite,” marveled Joan, who retired as a licensed practical nurse. “Bad weather, good weather, he was always there.”
By the time Metil retired, “The buff brick school atop Leisenring hill” had burned to the ground and he was teaching in the Trotter school that eventually became Connellsville Junior High West.
Smiling at the photo of Dunbar Township High School this past summer, Metil shook his head in wonder.
“I can't believe it. I can't believe it,” he whispered. He cleared his throat and declared, “Those kids, in my estimation, were the best kids in Fayette County. They were just different.”
Laura Szepesi is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 3 Connellsville area veterans share stories from World War II
- Trial ordered for Connellsville man charged in fatal collision
- Serial thief sentenced to prison term
- Election code violations against Bullskin supervisors waived to county court
- Wooddale Grange to host bluegrass jammers
- Groundbreaking for Connellsville hotel shifts to January
- Connellsville/Scottdale Salvation Army unit needs help to ‘Fill the Truck’
- Connellsville student ‘touched the lives of so many’
- Connellsville Area High School students help local families in need
- Churches, nonprofits participate in It’s a Connellsville Christmas
- Two new members welcomed to Connellsville Area School Board