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New inductees starred on and off the field

ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP -- Ringgold's first Hall of Fame Class featured four of the best-known athletes in the area: Stan Musial, Joe Montana, Ken Griffey and Fred Cox.

The second class, which was inducted Saturday night at the Willow Room, was a little different.

"We're branching out to educators, lawyers, commun-ity service and businessmen in the Ringgold School District," said executive director Brad Bassi, of the sponsoring Ringgold Rams Club. "They deserve this honor."

As a result, four former football greats from Donora had to share the spotlight with a doctor, judge, a college dean and grocery store owner.

The gridders honored were Rudy Andabaker, Lou "Bimbo" Cecconi and the deceased Arnold "Pope" Galiffa and "Deacon" Dan Towler, who all starred for one or both of the Dragons' two WPIAL championship teams.

Cecconi and Andabaker both went on to shine at Pitt, with the latter going on to play in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Galiffa went on to become one of the greatest all-around athletes in West Point history, making the cover of Life Magazine in 1949. He played in the NFL for the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers and in the Canadian Football League with Toronto.

Towler went on to become one of the greatest running backs in Washington & Jefferson College history and later starred with the Los Angeles Rams, leading the NFL in rushing in 1952.

Rounding out the Hall of Fame class were Dr. Marie Brown Wagner, the Honorable Judge Paul A. Simmons, Dr. David Epperson and Aldo Bartolotta.

Here are the remarks of some of the honorees:

"This is a special privilege to be honored after the first class which had four of the most revered names," said Cecconi. "I have a heavy heart since two of my teammates (Galiffa and Towler) are no longer with us."

"I never left the Mon Valley and the Mon Valley has never left me," said Andabaker, a lifelong Donora resident.

"This is like family here because Bimbo was the best man at my dad's wedding," said Galiffa's daughter Debbie.

"Paul loves the Mon Valley," said his wife Gwen. "He's a great example of using adversity to grow because he lost a leg working on the railroad when he was 21."

"I share this award with my co-workers because they put me in the position I am today," said Bartolotta.

"I owe it all to the Valley because it started here," said Epperson, who retired in 2001 after serving over 29 years as a dean at Pitt.

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