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Shaler man leaves $350K to Game Commission

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‘Operation hat trick'

Several weeks ago, Pennsylvania Game Commission officers had to team with volunteer firefighters to rescue a buck that had fallen into a well near Wexford.

More recently, they were called on to rescue a deer in a net.

Wildlife conservation officer Dan Puhala got word that a 6-point buck was tangled in a hockey net in McCandless. Residents reported seeing the deer walking around with the net and several pieces of attached PVC pipe hanging from its antlers.

Working with deputies Anthony Candek and Gregory Ditmore, he tranquilized the deer, removed the net and pipes and set the buck free.

“This rescue operation was affectionately coined ‘operation hat trick' because of its unique aspects and of course being in the Pittsburgh area,” Puhala said.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 3:54 p.m.

Joseph Trempus was not a man who made friends — or even wanted any.

But he did have one.

And when Trempus died at 93 last November, that one was left to deliver some pretty amazing news to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Ronald Petronio, who lived across the street from Trempus in Shaler, went to the commission and said his neighbor had left virtually his entire estate to the agency. The donation totaled $349,198.79.

“They didn't spend a dime,” Petronio said of Trempus and his wife, Kay, who died a few years earlier. “Almost every penny he had, and everything that was sold, went to the Game Commission.”

That's unheard of.

The Game Commission gets donations from time to time, usually one or two a month. But they're rarely for more than $250, and often more like $25, commission spokesman Travis Lau said.

It's gotten bequeathals before, too, he said, but it's “extremely rare” for anything to approach the size of the one left by Trempus.

“The secretary who works in that department said she's never seen anything like it in her 13 years here. I realize that's not well-sourced, but hopefully it gives you some idea,” Lau said.

Joseph and Kay Trempus had no children and did not associate with their extended family, Petronio said. They didn't spend much time with their neighbors either.

No one ever knew exactly why.

“You didn't ask why. And he wouldn't have told you anyway,” Petronio said.

They loved the outdoors, though. Joseph Trempus was a billboard installer who loved goose and rabbit hunting and trout fishing; Kay spent 40-plus years working for Sears and was his companion afield.

“All they did was hunt and fish. That was their whole life,” Petronio said.

When Petronio approached the commission, he asked if it might honor his friend's donation in some way. The commission paid tribute to Trempus at its recent meeting in Delmont and said his donation will go toward displays and exhibits for the new wildlife learning center to be built at Pymatuning.

A room there will be named for Trempus, Petronio said. That's something his friend would be proud of, he added.

“I miss Joe. He was a nice guy, a great guy. He was just different,” he said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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