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Obituaries

East Huntingdon auctioneer was known for 'pickin' and grinnin' '

| Monday, June 29, 2009

Jake Zelmore found his passion in the family auctioneering business.

"Growing up, his father was an auctioneer, and he wanted to follow his footsteps," said Robert Zelmore of East Huntingdon, Mr. Zelmore's youngest son. "His family had an auction barn that my father would go and help out at on Route 31. That's where he started selling when he was 16."

Eugene D. "Jake" Zelmore of East Huntingdon, died at his home Friday, June 26, 2009, after a prolonged illness. He was 72.

Mr. Zelmore, who was inducted into the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame last year, was self-employed at Zelmore Brothers Autowreckers in Mt. Pleasant, a business he started with three of his five brothers.

In addition to auctioneering, Mr. Zelmore was known for "pickin' and grinnin'" for more than 50 years in a band that came to be known as "Jake Zelmore and the Traveling Roadshow." He was the band's country and gospel singer, and performed at churches, fairs and festivals.

"He was playing at a fair, and I had a sister with me who told him, 'That girl standing there with the long dark hair is a singer,'" said his wife, Nancy Zelmore. "He said, 'Well, she'll be on the second show.' And I've been there ever since."

The couple were married for 46 years and had four children.

"My dad always found a way to spend unique times with each of his children," said daughter Kimberly Zelmore of Mt. Pleasant. "We always sang together, my dad and I, since I was 5."

She said his band was the only one to perform every year at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Festival. Last year organizers gave him an award, but he couldn't be there to accept so his children went in his place.

"We always ended every show with 'How Great Thou Art,' " she said. "And when they came the other night to take him away, that was the hymn that was playing."

Scott Leichliter of Mt. Pleasant credited Mr. Zelmore with giving him his first big break into music at age 6.

"Jake was emceeing a talent show and I was a little nervous about getting up there, but he makes everyone feel at ease," said Leichliter, who plays guitar, fiddle and banjo. "I make my living as a professional musician now, and I credit Jake. He was one of the first musicians I ever met who took a chance and put me on stage with him."

Mr. Zelmore was generous with his time as an auctioneer, volunteering for any charitable cause that came his way, said his wife.

"If somebody needed an auctioneer, he was always willing and ready to go," she said. "He'd sell anything, even down to old packs of gum. ... He once sold a pack of chewing gum for over $700."

Mr. Zelmore was a member of the Mt. Pleasant Church of God, the National Auctioneers Association, Mt. Pleasant Elks, Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club and Old Time Fiddlers Association. He was a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and belonged to Marion Lodge 562 F&AM, the Uniontown Lodge of Perfection, the Pittsburgh Consistory, the Syria Shrine and the Three Rivers Hillbilly Clan No. 53.

In addition to his wife and two children, survivors include two other sons, Randy Zelmore of Acme, and Jason Zelmore of Mt. Pleasant; three brothers, Glenn, Marlin and Arnold Zelmore, all of Mt. Pleasant; a sister, Marjorie Ament of East Huntingdon; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

He was preceded in death by three brothers, Duane, Richard and Kenneth.

The family will receive friends from 2 to 8 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Eugene G. Saloom Funeral Service Inc., 730 W. Main St., Mt. Pleasant. A funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery in Acme. Members of Marion Lodge 562 will conduct a Masonic service at 7 p.m. Monday in the funeral home.

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