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Muncy pool season closes with 50 year celebration

By Staff | Aug 20, 2013

The R.J. Patrizio pool celebrated 50 years this past Saturday. Current lifeguards seated left to right: Maggie Merk, Rachel Mahalick, Josh McGee, Margaret Cooper and Josh Fry. Second row is pool manager Woody Fry and former board members Betty Baker, Bill Weiler, Connie Holtzapple and Dale Smith. Third row are former life guards Garman Zehner, Betsy Thompson, Susan Roca, Thad Baker, Sara Campbell Engel, Kyle Campbell, Amanda Sheets, and Kristen Fry.

MUNCY In a celebratory way, former and current volunteers and employees gathered to close out the 50th year at R. J. Patrizio Pool in Muncy. Among them were the first and most current lifeguards, Garman Zehner and Margaret Cooper. Zehner and three additional guards hired in July 1963 by manager George Sauers were: Fred Koons, Nan Wood and Betty Girven.

Zehner spoke of delays in opening, the last being an effort to fill the pool when firemen placed pumps to bring water from Glade Run. While all went home to supper, a thunder storm came and muddied the creek resulting in murky water being pumped into the pool. Alum was purchased which clung to dirt particles causing them to sink to the bottom where we carefully vacuumed. Everyone was happy to get in,” said Zehner who was officially the first to jump into the pool.

“As construction was just finished, there was no grass so people laid towels and blankets over the dirt,” Zehner said. He also recalled an instance when a young boy dropped his candy wrapper on the ground. “Koons blew his whistle and ordered the boy to pick it up. Just then, the breeze blew the wrapper in the four foot pool into which the 3 foot non-swimmer jumped. Diving off the stand, Wood’s shallow plunge caused a brush burn on a small spot on his stomach, which all his life never tanned. The boy however was rescued. Lifting him up on the cement, the boy was still clutching the candy bar in one hand and the wrapper in the other.”

Having been a part in fundraising efforts and on the board, Dale Smith is also a veteran of 50 years plus. “I learned to swim in ponds and creeks and was glad our daughters could learn in a safe environment. As we lived only a couple blocks away, my wife Sylvia and I enjoyed bringing the girls to swim. It was a good crowd here,” Smith said.

Moving to Muncy in 1972, Bill Weiler became the much needed fix-it man. His 30-year volunteer investment in the pool was rewarded when given the gift of a jacket embroidered with the name ‘MacGyver’.

Former board member and Treasurer Betty Baker also headed personnel and was onsite daily at opening and closing hours. “We did safety drills weekly. I often told the guards, this may be the most important job of your life, being responsible for the safety of so many swimmers.” Baker also said she was a stroke judge with the swim teams.

Over the years, all six Campbell siblings were involved. The four lifeguards from this family were: Sara (Engel), 1996-2000; Kyle, 2000-2005; Jenny and Craig. They joined Jamie and Regan Campbell on swim teams which traveled to compete at Hughesville, Montgomery, South Williamsport, Loyalsock, Wellsboro and beyond. Sara said, “I enjoyed teaching swimming and watching the children’s progress. Being able to enjoy summers outside was great.”

Connie Holtzapple, secretary from 1974 until about 1990, is the mother of former lifeguards Susan Roca and Beth Hernandez.

Betsy Thompson served as a lifeguard as well as a stint on the board.

Amanda Sheets, a nine year employee said, “I love that kids have a place to come and hangout during summer.”

Free admission was given to 249 persons and the day culminated with attendees invited to enjoy cake and ice cream. Fourteen year manager Woody Fry, in addition to Amanda Sheets, were instrumental in planning the day. All look forward to beginning the second half of the century with another successful summer of fun in 2014.