Trees planted to honor three former policemen
DAVID WARGO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS The Summit Hill Historical Society honored three policemen this year who served the community. Pictured here are the members of the Francis McArdle family. McArdle served as police chief for 10 years in the 1950s and 60s. Pictured (left to right): Kevin McArdle, Patrick McGeehan, Mayor Paul McArdle (brother), Tom McArdle, Fran McArdle Arnold (a daughter), James McArdle, niece Sheila McArdle, and Andrea Salla.
Each year the Summit Hill Historical Society has recognized through the sponsorship of trees for the Arbor Day planting, Summit Hill natives and residents who through their lifetime demonstrated a commitment to serving the community or who have grown up here and made a significant contribution to our society through their service.
In the past, the Memorial Tree program has recognized trios of educators, historians, service personnel, community leaders and emergency responders. This year the Society recognized three policemen who served the borough with devotion throughout their lifetimes in the community. Coincidentally at one point in time all three men served as policemen together in the borough.
The first honoree was Francis McArdle who graduated from the FBI Academy in 1949 and served the community as its police chief from 1952 to 1962. McArdle who was a brother to present Mayor Paul McArdle. One memory the family shared was how in the 1950's and 1960's there were parking meters in the town. The chief would take a pocketful of pennies with him each morning to pay the meters for people parked there so that he would not have to give them tickets. He was well liked by and appreciated by residents of the community and after finishing his service as chief, he went onto to be a detective for two years from 1962 to 1964. Later he served as the chauffer for the President of Mack Trucks until his death in 1966. It was reported that the President of Mack attended McArdle's funeral and spoke highly of him as well.
The second honoree was James Whitehead who was a lifelong resident of the community and served not only as a police officer from 1958 to 1978, but also was an ambulance driver and coal miner. He worked as a shale picker in his youth before he was old enough to work in the mines. His parents died when he was young so he became responsible for rearing his brothers and sister before he went to war. At that point they were placed in the Scotland School.
Whitehead met his wife, Mary, in England during World War II and at the conclusion they married and returned to the borough to raise four children, Pat, Ellen, Jim and Karen. He has 10 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
In 1996, he served as the Grand Marshal for the annual Memorial Day parade. His family shared that he had a lifelong love and devotion for Summit Hill and they said he would be proud to know he was being remembered this way.
The final honoree was Jack Markey who people recalled as being a happy person who enjoyed serving the community and had the honor of at one point of being both the police chief and the fire chief for the borough. Vermillion said that he was also known for being quite the dancer and enjoyed dancing at community events.
For more information about the Summit Hill Historical Society Memorial Tree Program or to nominate an honoree, please notify Vermillion at (570) 645-9772. Three trees are planted as memorials every spring.