January was a quiet month for the people of YTR -Plenty of sunshine and little snow. That is a fine idea of winter! February brings Valentine's Day and a not too far off promise of spring, although we are sure to see some snow before the burst of spring occurs.
The Glen Robbins Presbyterian Church is holding a chicken dinner today, Feb. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community Center. Dinner includes chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, homemade bread and beverage. Cost is $6.50 per dinner. Desserts are also available for purchase. Eat in or carry out. All proceeds benefit the church.
The next meeting of the Warren Township Lions Club will be on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Valley Hospice building in Rayland. The Lions Club is open to men and women and is in need of new members to assist in their many worthwhile projects. Please contact Russell at 859-3162 for additional information.
I was honored to attend two uplifting events this past week. The first was the performance at BLHS by Elec Simon, a 1999 graduate and talented performer and motivational speaker. Elec's message of respect for one's self and others and his encouragement to follow your dreams was well received by all in attendance. Seeing Mr. Lawrence Parsons perform with Elec was a joy. The other event was the Grief service held at the Rush Run Community Chapel last Sunday. Pastor Jim Monogioudis and the members of the church welcomed each guest and provided a beautiful, inspirational service and an awesome dinner afterwards. Thank you for including those of us who have recently lost a loved one as well as for honoring our area funeral directors and their staff.
As the weather improves, thoughts of T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops enter our minds. There are ways to keep fit in YTR. The track at the WWII Memorial Stadium is available to the public from dusk to dawn, as is the walking track at Mazeroski Park. The BLHS track and fitness room are available when not in use by students. The tennis and basketball courts at the WT Park are available for public use also. Taking a stroll through YTR is a good way to get fit and catch up with friends we haven't seen throughout the winter months. When walking your dog, please be respectful of others. Carry a bag to clean up after your pet. Others will appreciate it. The Body Shop Health and Fitness always welcomes new members. Staff is available to assist you in your fitness needs. Contact the Body Shop at 859-6053.
Honoring the Wish of a Friend
Last summer, a family friend asked me if I would assist him in writing an article about the many talented musicians and performers who have graced the YTR area. I told him that I would be happy to collaborate on an article with him. Unfortunately 2 months after he asked, my dear friend, Gary Marconi, passed away unexpectedly. We did not have a chance to bring that article to fruition. I have pondered a way to carry out Gary's wish and have decided to highlight talented artists with which the YTR area has been blessed in a feature called "Music Notes". Because of recent events, I have chosen to write about the rich musical history of two YTR families for this first "Music Notes" segment. It is my plan to continue to honor the music tradition of YTR and to remember Gary and his love of music. The heavenly band must surely sound a little sweeter with Gary on the drums.
The Marconi brothers, Gary and Ron are known for their love of music and for their talents. Gary began to play the drums at age 12 and was playing in local clubs and venues before he was even allowed to drive a car. His brother Alan stated that the family would accompany Gary when he played, for one thing because they loved music, but also because he needed a ride home! Gary went on to play with area bands such as The Sonny Day Band, featuring the uncle of Yorkville resident Fran Wakulchik. This talented group of musicians often played at local venues, including the Bridgeport Eagles, the Yacht Club and Lou's VooDoo. The Sonny Day Band was honored to perform for President John F. Kennedy during his visit to Wheeling. Gary's most recent stint was with the band Black Tie Affair. This band, always dressed in tuxedoes, played at weddings and formal affairs throughout the valley. Gary played with them until his passing.
Ron Marconi is a talented accordion player who relocated to the Columbus/Cincinnati area several years ago. Ron began his own band as a teenager and members included Jerry VanBeneden, Bob (Moonie) Vitchner and Harry Pence. Later Ron played in the Joe Nameth Band in Steubenville. Ron then entered the Navy for 3 years. His parents sent him his accordion and he played for his fellow servicemen as well as in local clubs in Japan. Ron began another band in 1964 and members included his brother Gary, Phil Plumby, Al Magnone, Ron Ignac, and Lindy Potter. The band broke up in 1981 when Ron was transferred by AEP to the Columbus area.
The second family to be featured today is the Parsons Family. There are currently 4 generations of drummers in this gifted family. First generation member, Lawrence Parsons, 90 years young, is a drummer who has instilled his love of music in his family. As stated above, he recently joined percussionist, Elec Simon in a performance at the BLHS Black History Month Assembly. That love of music was evident in his face as well as in his joy of performing. Talking to him afterwards, one could see him swell with pride as his great grandson, Ricky praised his performance. For 25 years, Lawrence was drummer for the Johnny Olszowy Band playing in area clubs throughout the valley.
His son, Rick Parsons, is known throughout the tri-state as a talented drummer, second to none. Like the performers mentioned above, Rick began his career at a young age, playing drums with his Dad in their basement and committed to the 4-5 hours of daily practice needed to hone his skills. When we were growing up, teens always watched and hoped that Rick would break a drumstick during his rigorous performance of "Wipe Out"! Rick earned his degree in Percussion from West Virginia University in 1974. For 25 years he has been the principal percussionist for the River City Brass band and this past November performed with Broadway star, Patti Lupone. In December, Rick had the honor to perform with conductor Marvin Hamlisch. Rick currently teaches percussion to students in grades 8-12 at the Lincoln Performing Arts Center in Pittsburgh and continues to perform with the River City Brass Band.
Rick's daughter, Amy is also skilled drummer who plays her music mostly for personal enjoyment. She can be encouraged to perform at Buckeye Local alumni events as well.
And fourth generation performer is Ricky Sempkowski, son of Rick's daughter KiKi and Chuck Sempkowski. Ricky is a junior at BLHS and plays drums in the Panther Band under the direction of Bill Stephens.
Remember, rich is not what you have or where you go. It's who you have beside you.
Happy Valentine's Day!