Wellsville honors two of its own

WELLSVILLE — Emotions ran high at Tuesday night’s Village Council meeting, where the only business conducted was honoring two community members.

Visibly shaken, Mayor Nancy Murray opened the meeting in tears, announcing that council would be foregoing regular business after the sudden death Monday of Councilman Pinky Checkler Gill.

Murray, who has been battling cancer and who recently lost her husband, told the audience, “It’s been a tough year,” as she wiped tears from her eyes, asking for a moment of silence for Gill, who died after emergency surgery.

She spoke fondly of Gill, saying, “Pinky loved this community and always donated any way she could. (She) loved being on council; she wanted this town to thrive and wanted it to be the best place to live,” calling her a “great community leader” and “a great friend.”

Council had already planned on honoring during the meeting the 100th birthday of community resident Marjorie Dysert, and she was recognized during the meeting by several in the audience for her years of service to the village.

Dysert was born May 31, 1918 and spent her life in Wellsville, where she taught school until retirement.

In 1982, Dysert was appointed by Mayor Wayne Rose to the city’s board of health, where she also served five years as president until Wellsville became a village in 1990, and the department of health was dissolved. She also served on the Wellsville Board of Education.

She was one of the founders of the Wellsville High School Alumni Scholarship Association, serving as secretary for 15 years, and over the years, Dysert has won numerous awards, including being named Woman of the Year twice by the Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce; Morning Journal Citizen of the Year; East Liverpool Area Jaycees Civic Service Award; G. W. McMillen Friend of the School; and a Wellsville Legend.

Former Wellsville school superintendent Paul Blevins was among those who spoke about Dysert, saying, “Thank you for all you have been to me, the community and to the student body.”

Dolly Brophey recalled writing nominations for her brother Chuck Amato and Dysert for Man and Woman of the Year and both were awarded, saying they worked tirelessly on Broadway Park.

Councilman Rosie Gibson remembered Dysert as her teacher, joking, “I still remember what a verb is. If we got an ‘A’ off of you, we earned it. I can’t tell you what an inspiration you were to me. You were a very classy lady and a very classy teacher.”

After Councilman Karen Dash said she recalled spending an afternoon teaching Dysert to square dance, the former teacher said she had been required to take a physical education class in Geneva but a registrar agreed to allow the square dancing to serve, as long as she put in enough hours, recollecting how Dash came to her home for the lessons.

Candy Bangor said when the Revitalization Committee was started, many people told members they were not going to be able to accomplish their goals, but Dysert “always told us we could do what we wanted to do.”

With a mischievous grin, Dysert quipped, “I conned them a little bit.”

Dysert said, “I do believe in Wellsville. We have some of the best families I think ever existed. It’s a wonderful town; I’ve been here a hundred years. I think I know everybody in Wellsville.”

She said, “Someone wrote a book, ‘It Takes a Village,'” and when a couple people in the audience offered, “Hillary,” the sharp centenarian smiled, “I didn’t want to mention a name,” bringing laughter from the crowd.

A standing ovation and singing of “Happy Birthday” rounded out the celebration.

After the meeting, Murray was asked what process will be followed in regard to Gill’s vacant seat on council, and she said at the next council meeting she will have to announce applications will be taken. They will be reviewed by the mayor and council and a recommendation made by the mayor.

Murray said she thought there is a 30-day time frame in which the seat can be filled by the village.