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Lansford inductees are Gildea, Spisak, Pilconis

  • Lansford inductees are Gildea, Spisak, Pilconis
    Copyright 2012
Published May 12. 2012 09:01AM

The Carbon County Sports Hall of Fame will induct its 2012 class on May 27 at Memorial Hall in Jim Thorpe.

The doors will open at 12:45 p.m., with cocktail hour from 1-2 p.m. Dinner will be at 2, with the induction ceremony to follow.

Anyone looking for tickets to the banquet can contact any of the following people: Art George 610-826-2830; Jake Boyer 610-751-6634; Danny McGinley 570-325-3550; Tom Wehr 570-366-2694; Trevor Lawrence 570-645-4722; Ted Bortnick 570-645-9575; Emmett McCall 570-645-2093; Bob Gelatko 570-645-8652; John Harkins 570-645-2627; Tom McGrath 570-668-2237; Gary Clemson 570-668-1066; Tom Pilla 570-669-6666; or Bill Gardiner 570-669-6564.

The deadline for tickets is Monday, May 14.

The TIMES NEWS will run the inductees from all eight of the towns that are part of the Carbon County Hall of Fame on Saturdays during April and May.

This year's Lansford inductees are as follows:

Donald Gildea

Born in Lansford in 1932, Donald Gildea attended St. Ann High School in that community, where he was a member of the 1950 basketball team that won the Anthracite Catholic League championship.

In 1955, he became a PIAA basketball official, and has tooted the whistle every year since. In 1995, the PIAA held its first annual banquet honoring those with 30 years of service. Don was one of the first recipients of the awards given by the state organization. He has targeted 2012 as his last year of officiating.

Gildea also umpired the first Lansford Liittle League game in 1957 and umpired every season for 55 years until retiring from the league in 2011.

For many years, he played both modified and slow pitch softball in the Panther Valley Softball League. He played for Student's, the AMVETS, East End A.A. and Abbott A.A. He also played against the King and His Court, and tallied two hits in two games against the famous fastball hurler.

Don is married to the former Regina Frantz (1958) and they have five children, three girls and two boys. He retired from Schaffer's/Stroh's Brewery, Fogelsville, in 1997 after 24 years of service.

In 2009, Don was honored with The Shamrock Award from the Panther Valley Irish-American Association.

Vince Spisak

Vince Spisak, a 1957 graduate of Lansford High School, enjoyed a 40-year career in education and athletics before retiring in 2002.

At LHS, he was an outstanding athlete in basketball and football and later played on the gridiron at East Stroudsburg State College.

He initially taught in the Lansford School District before its merger into the Panther Valley School District, where Spisak coached several sports, including basketball, baseball, football, wrestlign and track.

In 1967-68, he introduced wrestling to the district, and went on to coach for many years. In 1976, he coached the Schuylkill Wrestling League All Stars against the Susquehanna Valley Conference All Stars at St. Joe's Gym, Hazleton, in the First Annual Northeastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Wrestling Classic.

One of his most successful coaching stints came in the 1977-78 season at PV, when his Panther team went 15-0 and won the Schuylkill League Northern Division championship.

He coached numerous wrestlers who went on to win tournament and district championships, as well as state qualifiers.

In 1980, he was inducted into the Pottsville Chapter of Wreslting Officials Hall of Fame.

As an educator, Spisak won several honors, including Educator of the Year in 2000 from the Panther Valley Chamber of Commerce and recipient of the John J. Dillon PASR Service Award" in 2010, when he also received the PASR Commendation Award."

He remains very active with the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees, serving as state chairman of the Retirement Planning Committee.

Vince and his wife, the former Mary Frances Lukca, reside in Lansford. They have four children and three grandchildren.

William T. Pilconis

One of the finest athletes ever to come out of the Panther Valley, William T. Pilconis was a first team All Stater in football and basketball and an undefeated state champion in the 120-yard high hurdles in his senior year.

A former Lansford resident, he graduated from Panther Valley High in 1967 and went on to the University of Pittsburgh, where he started every game at three different positions before being drafted by the Detroit Lions.

At PV though, he was extraordinary in three sports. On the gridiron, he copped all state honors as an end and made the Big 33 team, catching a TD pass vs. Texas. The Panthers lost one game in each of his last two years there.

He played on cage teams that were undefeated all three years of league play (one at Mahanoy Area), and won two District 11 titles, and, on the track, he was a triple medalist in the PIAA meet, where he set three records.

At Pitt, Pilconis started every game for the Panthers on either offense or defense and also ran the hurdles and threw the javelin on the track team. He was drafted by the Lions in 1972 but his career was ended by a neck injury.

He is married to the former Joanne Flannery of Pottsville. They are the parents of three children, Ryan, Steven and Lauen.

His father, Joe, was an All American at Temple, and his brother, John, played at George Washington University. Bill, his father and his brother are inductees in the Jerry Wolman Northern Anthracite Chapter of the Pa. Sports Hall of Fame.

Bill and his wife reside in Pottsville. He spent his working career in the insurance industry.

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