"He possessed the important ingredients of being a teacher ... caring for people."
Those were the words guest speaker and friend John Harkins had for Vincent "Vince" T. Spisak, this year's Lansford American Legion Person of the Year.
Harkins, a fellow coach and teacher who has known Spisak since 1962, also described Spisak as someone who possesses many leadership traits, depicting him as "not a clock watcher."
Spisak, a retired teacher from Lansford, credited his wife, family and friends for his achievements in the community for the honor of becoming the fourth annual Person of the Year in a dinner held at the post.
Vince and his wife are often seen cheering on their grandchildren as they participate in cheerleading, karate, football and other activities. He is also currently very active in the PA Assocation of School Retirees (PASR) and currently serving as their State Chairman for the Retirement Planning Committee.
In addition to other community endeavors, Spisak's 40-year affiliation with the Lansford/Panther Valley School District involved teaching or participating in numerous student programs, to include teaching anatomy, CPR, Health and Physical Education. He was also a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association, Department Chairman for the Health and Physical Education Curriculum, President of the Panther Valley Education Association and initiated a Panther Valley competitive gymnastic exhibition.
At the Lansford High School, Spisak served as the junior varsity coach, assistant football coach and head baseball coach. At the Panther Valley High School, he was the assistant football coach, head baseball coach and in 1967-68, introduced wrestling at part of the academic program.
On Sunday, Spisak was inducted in the Carbon County Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2000, Spisak received the 'John J. Dillon PASR Service Award' and a 'PASR Commendation Award for outstanding service.
During the summer months of his career, Spisak was involved as the Water Front Director at Camp Greenwood; served as Water Safety Director for the American Red Cross; head life guard at Mauch Chunk Lake Park; Recreational Director at Lake Hauto; Manager, Lansford pool, where he also offered swimming lessons, lifesaving classes, handicrafts and a variety of other youth and community-related activities.
Vince was born to Helen and Vincent C. Spisak and has a sister, Helen. He attended St. Michael's School in Lansford and upon graduation, received the American Legion Award. He attended Lansford High School and participated in American Legion baseball, basketball and football. Upon high school graduation, he earned the Outstanding Athletic Award. Attending East Stroudsburg College, Spisak graduated with a B.S. in Health Education.
"The happiest day of my life was Sept. 22, 1962, the day I met my wife (Mary F. Lukca)," said Spisak.
They will be married 50 years in September of this year.
Participating and providing related awards and letters during the program were Jack Anderson, Post Commander; Tim Midas, President, Home Association; Bill Coll, Second Vice Commander; State Representative Doyle Heffley (R-122), John Turcmanovich, Lansford Chief of Police who presented on behalf of Senator John Yudichak (D-14); Rose Mary Cannon, Lansford Borough Council; Chris Ondrus, President, Lansford Alive!; and Lenny Kovach, Lansford Improvement Committee.
Presenting this year's Legion Award was Renee Slakoper, the 2010 award recipient, who jokingly stated she ran out of room in the program to list all Spisak's lifelong accomplishments. Members of Spisak's family, which included three of his grandchildren, also spoke words of appreciation and gratitude.
"Its not just the big people, it's the little people," Vince Jr. said in explaining the gratitude of the many who received the help of his father through the years.
Charlie Depuy, epitomizing a longtime friend, said, "What is the Man of the Year? Somebody that can't say no."