Part 3

Robert Streharsky of Akron, Ohio, formerly of Robertsdale, left us Dec. 22, 2020. Many folks reading this column may not be familiar with Bob, but around the Broad Top he was a highly respected individual for many reasons. Let me explain.

Better known to his family, friends and associates as “Shoetack,” Bob Streharsky was a big supporter of all things Broad Top including the Broad Top Area Coal Miners Historical Society. By the way, the nickname “Shoetack” originated because his father, the late Martin Streharsky, was a coal miner and a shoemaker in the Wood Township community of Robertsdale.

Bob left Robertsdale in 1959 with family members, relocating to Akron, Ohio, where his parents previously resided. Born in Robertsdale April 20, 1942, Bob was a senior at Robertsdale High School when he left the Broad Top. After relocating to Ohio, he graduated from South High School in Akron in 1960.

Because of his love for his alma mater and his longtime support and involvement in the Robertsdale High School Alumni Association, the organization made him an honorary alumnus of the Robertsdale High School. Bob enjoyed returning to Robertsdale every Labor Day weekend to help the Robertsdale, Wood and Broad Top (RW&BT) Volunteer Fire Co. prepare and serve the annual alumni banquet meal.

Bob loved the Broad Top, there was no doubt about that. And he backed up his love affair for the mountain by putting up his money and talents.

Bob always had a fondness for the Broad Top and made many visits back to his hometown, often sharing his adventures with Daily News and Broad Top Bulletin correspondent and historian Adam Watson of Broad Top City. He wholeheartedly supported many Broad Top area endeavors, especially if they involved heritage preservation.

In addition to the ongoing East Broad Top Railroad restoration, Bob was a major supporter of the Coal Miners Museum and made it a point to stop by the institution each time he returned to the Broad Top.

His support for the museum dates to the early years of the historical society when it established the Coal Miners Museum in the Reality Theatre in the early 1990s. In addition to financial support, he often donated items of interest for display in the museum. His carpentry skills also produced several display cabinets still in use at the museum.

As many folks close to Bob can attest, he had a wonderful sense of humor and always spoke his piece. Once, during a visit to the Coal Miners Museum, he listened to the columnist complain about the lack of financial support for the upkeep of the Italian/Sicilian Cemetery at Robertsdale. “Ron, if it will shut you up, I’ll make a donation, OK?,” he remarked. I did. And he kept his word by making a sizable contribution to the cause.

I’m sure that many other Broad Top area organizations and “causes” can attest to Bob’s generosity and support. Thanks to the Robertsdale native many of those “causes” have survived with their mission intact.

A jack-of-all-trades, Bob enjoyed sharing his hobbies by crafting items for use for organizations. He also enjoyed photography and was a hoarder of tools, antiques, electronics and other collectibles, some of which found their way into the Coal Miners Museum. Stop by the museum (starting on weekends, May 1) and you’ll see some of Bob’s donations.

During the early 2000s Bob sent me a typed narration of his early years living in Robertsdale. I plan to use the information in the second Robertsdale history series being prepared for 2022. In his memoirs, Bob recalls life during the era of King Coal and Ole Easty. I know the readers will enjoy his recollections.

I should note that in addition to the Coal Miners Museum, the RHS Alumni Association and the RW&BT Volunteer Fire Co., Bob was a big supporter of the Friends of the East Broad Top (FEBT) and enjoyed stopping by to observe the FEBT volunteers restoring several EBT-related structures in downtown Robertsdale on the historic “company square.”

Bob saw great potential for the Broad Top area and enjoyed visiting other attractions with Adam Watson including—but not limited too—Raystown Lake. He really appreciated the history and natural beauty of the Broad Top and central Pennsylvania.

We will miss you Bob, but rest assured your contributions to your beloved Broad Top will not go unnoticed. As Broad Toppers continue their heritage preservation and community improvement projects and related activities, your past support will prove their weight in gold. Thanks “Shoetack,” for always being there.

Coming up: the columnist continues his recollections of several area residents who left us over the past year and the contributions they made to their respective communities.


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