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'Polka John' of West Newton shared love of music with public

Stephen Huba
| Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
John Moran
John Moran

Back in the 1970s and '80s, viewers of the West Newton cable access channel would have seen John Moran once a week as he played polka favorites.

The show was called “Polka Janez,” Slovene for Polka John, and featured music from his own collection.

“He would announce all the polkas he was playing; he would talk. He would make the show really interesting,” said his son, Jerome Moran.

Mr. Moran was involved with all aspects of production.

“There were no commercial sponsors. It was just pretty much a straight half-hour of music and him talking,” said his daughter, Dannette Byers.

John Jacob Moran of West Newton died Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, at his home. He was 97.

Born in Collinsburg on Feb. 12, 1920, he was the son of the late Michael and Mary Oblak Moran. His father came to the United States from the former Yugoslavia.

After retiring from Westinghouse Electric in Trafford, Mr. Moran stayed active with the Yough Bike Trail Association, as a ham radio operator and as a member of the Collinsburg Slovenian Club.

Mr. Moran's pride in his ethnic heritage was manifested in his love of polka music. In addition to hosting the TV show, he enjoyed polka dancing.

“He and my mother would go to polka dances a few times a month at the Slovenian ballroom in Herminie. That was their night out. He and she loved to dance,” Byers said.

As a member of the Monessen Amateur Radio Club and the Westmoreland Emergency Amateur Radio Service, he was involved with emergency communications during bad weather and backup communications during the annual air show at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, his son said.

Mr. Moran used his ham radio equipment to talk to people in other parts of the world. Later in life, when he needed an electric scooter to get around, he and his son would communicate via handheld radio as they rode the Yough Bike Trail together on Sundays.

“He wouldn't go far — maybe a couple miles at the most,” Jerome Moran said. “I'd ride my bike, and we'd take the radios with us. He just liked talking to people (on the trail).”

Mr. Moran was preceded in death by his wife, Louise (Teti) Moran, and a daughter, Denise (Moran) Budd.

He is survived by his son, Jerome Moran; a daughter, Dannette Byers; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Friends may call from 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Richard F. Dodson Memorial Home, 213 Main St., West Newton. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Holy Family Catholic Church in West Newton. Inter­ment will follow in West Newton Cemetery.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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