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Guido: Memories remain for Ford City's Red Mihalik gym

| Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
Workers began demolishing the former Ford City High School building Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. The school was closed in 2015 when students from Ford City and Kittanning began attending Armstrong High School.
Bill Oleksak | For the Tribune-Review
Workers began demolishing the former Ford City High School building Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. The school was closed in 2015 when students from Ford City and Kittanning began attending Armstrong High School.

Crews began demolition last week of one of the Alle-Kiski Valley's most recognizable high schools.

Ford City, including the historic Red Mihalik gym, a place where all current area schools competed at one time, is going by the wayside.

The school was closed in 2015 when Ford City and Kittanning high schools ceased operations and Armstrong Junior-Senior High School opened.

The school was built in the 1920s and the gym in 1937 as part of the Works Progress Administration under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

During its time in the gym, Ford City won many of its 33 section basketball titles, by far the best in local history.

The gym floor was dedicated to coach Hube Rupert in a 2010 ceremony.

Rupert won 333 games in 20 seasons and guided the team, then nicknamed the Glassers, to the 1948 WPIAL title and the PIAA title game.

Next on the demolition agenda will be the former Kittanning Junior High.

Widmer dies

One of the area's top football players from the mid-1950s died last month in Arizona.

Paul Widmer, 1955 Har-Brack graduate who went on to play for Arizona State, died in the Phoenix area at age 80.

A left guard, he was a junior on the Tigers team that tied Donora, 0-0, in the 1953 WPIAL title game.

Widmer was an Associated Press first-team all-state selection in '54.

After graduation, he played for the Sun Devils under coach Dan Devine and, later, Windber native Frank Kush.

Widmer was a member of the undefeated 1957 Arizona State team that was ranked 11th in the nation.

After his playing days in Tempe, he made his mark as a stellar coach in the high school ranks at Camelback and Tempe high schools.

As the head coach at Mesa Community College, he won 86 of the 108 games he coached, along with two NJACAA national championships. Widmer was Junior College Coach of the Year five times in his 10 seasons at Mesa.

He was inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, and eventually, the Mesa Community College and the Mesa City halls of fame.

Funeral services were held in Mesa on Oct. 27.

The Widmer family asked that donations in Paul's name be made to the Alzheimer's Society.

Killian honored

Former Tarentum High School football standout Paul Killian was honored by Pitt with Awardees of Distinction recently at homecoming at Heinz Field.

After graduating from Tarentum in 1964, he earned four letters at Pitt, leading the team in tackles and interceptions as a senior in 1967.

Killian graduated cum laude in 1968 and entered Pitt Medical School.

In 1980, he established Arthritis and Rheumatic Disease Associates, the largest private practice in Pittsburgh dedicated to the treatment of arthritis with an office in Brackenridge.

As a Redcats junior in 1962, he was third in the Alle-Kiski Valley in scoring with nine touchdowns, three coming in the season finale, a 20-6 victory against Fox Chapel as Tarentum compiled a 5-3-1 record.

In 1963, he was fourth in the A-K Valley with 11 touchdowns, including one to end the 5-4 season against Fox Chapel.

Oddly enough, he ended up a resident of the Fox Chapel Area School District where his son, Chad, starred in the late 1990s.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His columnappears Wednesdays.

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