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Obituary Stories

Firefighter from East Huntingdon made dedication to community plain

Jeff Himler
| Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Ray Bann's responsibilities to his community were a priority, whether he was on the job or volunteering in the Mt. Pleasant area. One exception occurred 39 years ago, when the volunteer firefighter exchanged vows with his wife, Donna Renee.

During the ceremony, the fire siren sounded, and it appeared the groom might dash off to assist with the emergency. But “his father stepped in and said, ‘No,' ” Mrs. Bann recalled, noting her husband had served as a paramedic, ambulance chief and third-generation firefighter in Norvelt.

“He was very dedicated. He loved it,” she said, and he taught others the basics of resuscitation.

Mr. Bann suffered from smoke inhalation while battling a fire at Norvelt's pharmacy. “I found him lying on the ground across the road,” his wife said. “He came through it, but he said, ‘They had to pull me out of that one.'

“The worst calls to go on were wrecks where there were little kids and babies. It just broke his heart.”

Raymond S. Bann II, 61, of East Huntingdon, died Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital, after a brief battle with cancer.

He was born Nov. 7, 1956, in the Mt. Pleasant Township village of United, a son of the late Raymond and Mary Grec Bann.

A 1974 graduate of Mt. Pleasant Area High School, he earned a business degree from the University of Pittsburgh and was a loyal Pitt football fan.

He was employed by Wal-Mart for more than 16 years, serving as an assistant manager, after more than 21 years working for Eat'n Park, including managing its Unity restaurant.

Mr. Bann served the interests of local children, including his two sons, when he coached the Norvelt Colts junior football team, later headed parent support groups for the Mt. Pleasant varsity football and wrestling squads and was a member of the Mt. Pleasant Area School Board.

“He was so unselfish,” his wife said, noting he often chipped in to pay for players' drinks. “A lot of teams only played the kids who were great. He said, ‘I will play everyone. It's their learning time.' ”

Fellow school director and coach Robert Gumbita said Mr. Bann earned the respect of his young players and other school board members.

“He was assigned to a number of (board) committees,” Gumbita said. “No matter what you gave him, he always followed through on everything.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Bann is survived by two sons, Raymond S. III and his wife, Stephanie, of Scottdale, and Ryan M. and his wife, Melissa, of Mt. Pleasant; and five grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, Mt. Pleasant, followed by private interment in the parish cemetery. The Galone-Caruso Funeral Home of Mt. Pleasant was in charge of arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Norvelt Volunteer Fire Department, 2325 Mt. Pleasant Road, Norvelt, PA 15674.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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