It was a wonderful summer, and the relief of the sun and warmth gave everybody extra energy. Flowers bloomed and the streets of Mt. Lebanon were busy with people thankful to be out and about. But something was missing, or should I say, someone.
Bart Will, a longtime resident of Mt. Lebanon, an employee of the municipality and graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School and a seemingly permanent fixture of our town, was missing.
He was a teenager in the ’60s when there was a rec center (before the construction of the new pool and ice rink). It was the hippies’ era. You could always find Bart, having a blast, at the rec. He spun the vinyl 45s and helped create the happy-go-lucky ambiance of that favorite Mt. Lebanon hangout. No cell phones or videos, just getting together with friends, music and food.
Bart lived at 900 Washington Road for many years, living alone after his parents passed away. Through the decades I would pass him walking on Washington Road. He was very outgoing, with a winning smile, bright blue eyes and an infectious attitude. We’d met when I was a high school graduate in the ’80s and he was working at the pool and the ice rink. He loved life despite his difficulties. His work ethic was excellent: he was dedicated to doing a good job and he put all his strength into his labors. He never grumbled at a task; he just did whatever was asked of him. He was friendly with everyone. Whenever we’d bump into each other, he was always having a good day. He especially loved the sunshine and the warm summer days.
Many times he would mention that he loved to party! To Bart, being with friends and a good meal was, I think, his type of party. He was fun-loving and just liked being around people. He also mentioned that he liked to watch the pretty girls. He never married but did have a serious girlfriend for a while. He used to go to the Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square with his buddies for lunch or dinner.
Mineo’s was his favorite local lunch spot and went there almost daily, enjoying the food with all the Mt. Lebanon regulars. He loved the Italian hoagies and liked to walk even though walking was not easy for him. His positivity carried him through life and he didn’t complain.
Bart was a special part of the Mt. Lebanon landscape for decades. He appreciated the camaraderie of the residents whether he knew them well or not. If anyone would encounter Bart on the streets of Mt. Lebanon or getting a bite at Mineo’s, or back in the days at the rec or the ice rink, he always brought happiness to those around him: a winning smile and a good wish. I felt his absence particularly during the summertime, the weather of which he was so fond! Bart passed away in March of this year. It feels like the end of an era. We all miss the happy spirit he brought to our town. Thanks for the great memories, Bart!