EDITORIAL: Remembering Jerry McKenzie

York Dispatch
  • Art is finding its way in STEM-based education systems.
  • Lifesavers aid retired judge in cardiac arrest.

Thumbs Up: To those who held a memorial for a one-of-a-kind, devoted man.

Jerry McKenzie

Friends and family gathered to celebrate the life of Jerry McKenzie, who died last month after a vehicle accident on a trip home from visiting one of his daughters.

Tammy McKenzie said although her father didn't have an extensive formal education, he was wise.

"Despite his illiteracy, he was a genius in many ways," she said.

He had two two daughters, whom he raised in a time when single fatherhood was less common than it is today.

Tammy McKenzie, of York Township, hugs her uncle Harold Backey, of Harrisburg, North Carolina, after reading  a eulogy for her father and local character Jerry McKenzie, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, at the York City Pretzel Company. Amanda J. Cain photo

Several shopkeepers from the Rosenmiller Building, where he worked as building caretaker, forged close friendships with him and were on hand for the memorial.

“He was kind of hard to get to know. You had to break through a shell with him,” My Girlfriend’s Wardrobe owner Alexandria Keener said. “Once you broke through, there was no going back. He was your best friend. He would do anything for you.”

York City friends celebrate life of 'kooky' neighbor

He used his talents to enlighten the lives of others.

We were glad to have the opportunity to cover this memorial and tell at least part of the story of one of York’s unsung heroes.

Thumbs Up: In this era of emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses and careers in our educational system, it seems that the arts are being treated like the ugly stepchild in the mix.

Some schools have tried to include the arts, calling their program “STEAM,” which frankly seems disparate.

Others have made an effort to keep arts an integral component of academic studies, along with the STEM courses.

Southern York County School District fine arts teacher Wesley Myers says Susquehannock High School is a haven for student artwork. The hallways are lined with permanent art fixtures that serve as a student legacy.

Susquehannock students focus on art

The student’s latest project is a huge mosaic project that spans an entire stairwell. It’s an opportunity for students to work together toward a common goal.

"It's fun to work with other people on an art project," Emily Hellwig said. "In a lot of other art classes, you work along on your own projects."

It’s good to see that schools are nurturing the arts on its own terms, with schools that encourage art students to leave a permanent footprint in the school.

Thumbs Up: To a group of strangers who became heroes all at once when retired District Judge Paul Diehl Jr., 85, went into cardiac arrest at the prothonotary's office.

Senior Magisterial District Judge Paul M. Diehl is retiring at the end of the year after 55 years on the bench in this file photo. There was a surprise retirement celebration for him  in the Jury Assembly Room on the 4th floor at the Judicial Center, Monday, November 21, 2012. file photo

It was just his luck that 16-year-old Sarah Grace Mills noticed signs of his heart attack. Luckier was the fact that she was there with her mother, Michele Chronister, who is a nurse practitioner.

Along with help from Sheriff's Department members Sgt. Richard Reincke and Cpl. Justin Koller, Chronister was able to resuscitate Diehl using an automated external defibrillator (AED).

"He was at the right place at the right time," York County Sheriff Richard Keurleber said.

After recovering, Diehl said that he believes AEDs should be everywhere and that CPR should be more widely taught — a sentiment echoed by the other good Samaritans involved in the episode.

Retired judge saved at York County Judicial Center

We agree. These lifesavers should be as common as fire extinguishers in offices and public places.