Tribute to an artist
Jarrad Hedes/Times News Miriam Parker, of Bethlehem, looks at the artwork of her brother-in-law, Randolph "Randy" Rabenold, on Sunday at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe. An art show was held in Rabenold's honor. For more photos, see our gallery at tnonline.com.
Randolph "Randy" Rabenold was a man of few words Sunday.
It wasn't because the nearly 84-year-old Lehighton resident had little to say, but because he was in shock at the turnout for an art show held in his honor at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe.
"I didn't know anything about it," Rabenold, who taught art for 37 years in the Jim Thorpe Area School District, said. "This was a total surprise."
It wasn't until the ride to the opera house on Sunday that Rabenold's family told him of the three-hour show, during which numerous pieces of his art portfolio would be on display.
"We had to tell him on the way here or he would've gotten really nervous," Ronald Rabenold, Randy's son, said.
"The turnout was tremendous in the first hour alone. My dad is really well-loved in Jim Thorpe, and we're just touched by the support for him here today."
The art on display Sunday included oil paintings, water colors, sketches created while serving in Korea during the Korean conflict of the early 1950s and his famous sports cartoons published in the Times News during the 1970s.
Rabenold enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he served four years, including a year in Korea with the "First Marine Brigade," winning five battle stars and achieving the rank of sergeant.
He was discharged in 1952 and enrolled at Kutztown State Teachers College. There he earned his art education degree. Ironically, he never took an art class while at Lehighton High School.
Supporters turned out from all corners of Rabenold's life.
"He was my teacher," proclaimed Anne Martino, of Lake Harmony, after purchasing one of Rabenold's prints and asking him to autograph it.
"I'll always remember the different mediums he taught us. He also followed us in sports and kept very interested in how we were doing."
Martino played softball at Jim Thorpe.
Rabenold began coaching basketball in 1963 and still holds a passion for the sport today as commissioner of the Jim Thorpe Adult Mens' Summer Basketball League at Memorial Park.
During his tenure teaching art at Jim Thorpe, which spanned 1957-1993, Rabenold worked with numerous colleagues, many of whom couldn't wait to catch up with him.
"I was so excited to see you today I didn't even sleep last night," Bernadette Marzen, a former Jim Thorpe home economics teacher, told Rabenold. "I'm so happy for you."
Jodi McKenzie, of Weatherly, had no prior connection to Rabenold. Her dad, however, served in Korea and after reading about Randy's war sketches in the newspaper, decided to see them in person.
"They're amazing," she said.
"They give you a first-hand perspective of what serving in a conflict is like."
Rabenold isn't finished having an impact on people's lives. Just ask some of the younger members of his family.
"I came out today to see my great-grandfather's pictures," said Ada Finsel. "He's a real inspiration for me."
Guests could purchase one of Rabenold's prints on Sunday with the proceeds going to support Carbon County veterans.
"It means a lot for everyone to come out," Rabenold said. "I enjoy seeing all of their faces."