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Butler lost two gems

 

January 19, 2018 Letters to the Editor

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The community has lost two wonderful people in recent weeks. Both had a tremendous impact on the lives of more than two generations of Butler children, teenagers, and college students. We, as a community, can pay tribute to their legacies by continuing their efforts.

My wife, Cindy, had Beverly Antis (Miss Antis) as her music teacher at Institute Hill Elementary School, during Bev’s first year of teaching for the Butler School District. My daughter, Olivia, had Miss Antis as her music teacher at Emily Brittain Elementary the final year of Bev’s teaching career for the district.

I met Bev as a participant in the annual Boars Head and Yule Log Festival, held for many years on the Feast of the Epiphany at St. Paul Catholic Church. Bev played the recorder solo and with a trio. Those performances are still vivid spirit-lifting memories of mine.

When I would attend my daughter’s concerts at Emily Brittain I would simply marvel at how Miss Antis could flawlessly play the piano with one hand and direct the ensemble groups with the other. Whether the group was performing a classical Beethoven piece or singing “Oh Susanna,” Bev gave all she had to her students. Following retirement, Bev shared her talents with the students at Slippery Rock University where she taught and helped with performances until her recent illness.

For 50 years Beverly was a church musician, playing the organ or piano and directing choirs at services in the Butler area. Students, parents, fellow teachers and congregations all knew that Miss Antis had a special gift for music and teaching. We were blessed to have known her.

Many people have given their all to the sports scene, but few have had the influence that Harry Leyland had. Whether on the hard court or the gridiron, Coach Leyland was instrumental in the development of hundreds, if not thousands, of young players over the past 50 years. Anyone who participated in the Midget Football League since the late 1960s would have a memory and story to tell about Harry. He taught many of his players how to growl.

Harry was an athlete and competitor all his life. I knew him as a person of my father’s generation who, much to my competitive chagrin, outran me in one particular Butler Road Race at a time when I considered myself a good runner. Many know Harry as the longtime coach of the Butler Catholic Saints basketball team. The gymnasium at Butler Catholic as well as the Butler CUBs Hall are aptly named in honor of Harry. The CUBs Hall was named as a tribute to the many years he and his crew spent maintaining that facility to benefit young boys and girls who could not participate at the high school level.

If it is true that a life can be measured by the positive impact a person has on children, and the people around them, Bev Antis and Harry Leyland can certainly rest in peace knowing they have done their part to make our community a better place. We can all pay tribute to them by continuing their efforts wherever we can by having a positive influence on the lives of our youth.

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