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East Lycoming School District honors Dr. Robert Houseknecht

By Staff | Oct 19, 2016

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Jennifer Thomas from the academic Hall of Fame committee for Hughesville High School and the class of 1994 presents this year's award to Dr. Robert Houseknecht from the class of 1954. With her are committee members (left to right) Scott Aderhold, Dayl McClintock, and Michael Pawlik, East Lycoming Superintendent. The committee was formed in 1988 under the guidance of late superintendent, Thomas Paternostro to recognize outstanding alumni.

HUGHESVILLE – An induction ceremony for the Hughesville High School Academic Hall of Fame was held Saturday afternoon, 3 p.m., at the High School library for honoree Dr. Robert Houseknecht who graduated from the class of 1954.

With an extensive bio and a background in medical education, the former Hughesville native was given a warm welcome by the Academic Hall of Fame committee. Jennifer Thomas from the class of 1994 and chair for the committee introduced Robert and acknowledged his accomplishments. “Dr. Houseknecht’s career is quite impressive and full of honors and achievements,” she said.

Dr. Houseknecht, who is almost 80 according to his wife, Rosemary, spoke on his academic success and his enjoyment of educating others.

“Stay in contact with one another,” he encouraged. Currently Dr. Houseknecht is teaching public health courses online. “I am doing this world-wide, and it has been very rewarding for me.”

He feels that the tech and business schools need more recognition, more so than liberal arts schools and universities. “It should be reversed,” he said in his speech, “by putting the liberal arts courses last and the business courses at entry level.”

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Dr. Robert Houseknecht spoke of his academic accomplishments, support from his family, and his extensive research with cancer during the Academic Hall of Fame reception at Hughesville High School on Saturday, October 15.

Residing in Florida now, Dr. Houseknecht encourages medical students to start out in a 2 year program first as a practical nurse, then proceed to 2 more years as an RN, followed by 2 more years training as a nurse practitioner, then a physician assistant and finally finishing with a medical degree as a doctor.

He has served on the PA Department of Health for many years where he was director of chronic diseases and held positions on a high level as Cancer Epidemiologist for infectious diseases. He serves as Principal Investigator and wrote grants while in this capacity. “I am big on cancer research,” he added and is looking into viral causes of cancer.

He holds over five medical degrees and certifications and serves on six medical boards.

He has served his country in the Air Force and his picture is number 23 in Hughesville’s Academic Hall of Fame in the high school library. Principal Ron Lorson unveiled Dr. Houseknecht’s photo during the induction ceremony which shows him at 47 in his Air Force uniform when he was Lt. Colonel.

After high school, Robert attended Lycoming College, received his masters at the University of Pittsburgh, a PhD in Microbiology at the University of Michigan and a PhD in Epidemilogy at the University of North Carolina.

Both Dr. Houseknecht and his wife have toured many parts of the world from Haiti to Romania helping children in need. “We have moved 28 times,” he said. The couple share 3 children, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was also named Professor of the Year two times at the age of 79.

“He is still working. He has not stopped,” said his wife, Rosemary of 60 years, who is also a romance novelist. “Being in the public health service, I have traveled the world with this man.”