At the beginning of a brief agenda meeting, the Woodland Hills School Board had a moment of silence for the late Rudy Celigoi, 81, who helped pioneer the merged school district.
There were murmurs of agreement throughout the room that Celigoi was a "great guy."
Celigoi joined Swissvale Area School District in 1970 as superintendent and was part of the group that put together the Woodland Hills School District in 1981 when federal Judge Gerald Weber ordered the merger to desegregate the former General Braddock School District.
The merger brought together 12 diverse communities—Edgewood, which had its own school district; Braddock Hills and Swissvale, which formed Swissvale Area; Chalfant, Churchill, Forest Hills and Wilkins, which were part of the Churchill Area district; Turtle Creek and East Pittsburgh, which comprised Turtle Creek Area; and Braddock, North Braddock and Rankin, which formed General Braddock.
Wayne Doyle, Turtle Creek Area superintendent, was named superintendent of what was dubbed "The New District" until a student contest selected the name Woodland Hills. The other superintendents—Edgewood's John Dunlap, General Braddock's Rocco Stio and Churchill Area's Barbara Hasson, along with Celigoi—each became assistant superintendents.
Celigoi worked as assistant superintendent in charge of secondary education, then also assumed the duties of pupil services. When he retired from the district in 1986, he was in charge of the district's business affairs.
He was born August 24, 1931 in North Braddock, a son of the late Rudolph and Francis Anslover Celigoi. He graduated in 1949 from North Braddock's Scott High School, where he served as captain of the football team. Upon graduation he attended Rutgers University on a scholarship and was a three-year starter on the football team.
After graduating from Rutgers in 1953, he returned to North Braddock as a mathematics teacher, junior high school basketball coach and assistant football coach to his old high school coach, Johnny Reed. He also later coached with the legendary Scott High coaches Joe McCune and Fran Rogel. He was promoted to be an administrator in North Braddock until he left for Swissvale in 1970.
Celigoi died Sept. 29 at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville.
Celigoi was a member of St. Agnes Church in North Huntingdon. He loved golf and playing cards, especially with his friends on Tuesdays in Swissvale.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Florence; his daughter, Beth Meteny and her husband, Dennis, of Gibsonia; a son, Mark Celigoi of Wexford; and his grandchildren Jonathan, Jason, Alex and Alison. Also surviving is one sister, Virginia Murphy and her husband, Patrick of Newtown, PA.
According to his obituary, "There wasn't anything he didn't do for his family. He did all he could to make their lives full and rewarding. He lived his life to help others and hoped their lives were better because of him."
Friends were received at the James W. Shirley Funeral Home in North Huntingdon. A funeral Mass will be held today (Thursday) at St. Agnes Church, North Huntingdon followed by interment in Braddock Catholic Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to St. Agnes Church.