Deutsch will be greatly missed at the Erie County Historical Society

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  • George Deutsch
    NASA press officer
  • Miguel Mena
    Horse jockey
  • James Conner
    James Conner
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Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when Daylight Saving Time ended.

George Deutsch’s decision to retire as executive director of the Erie County Historical Society caught his many friends and admirers by surprise. For the past five years, Deutsch has played a key role in the expansion and improvement of the society, which now includes multiple buildings on the grounds of the Watson-Curtze Mansion.

More: Change ahead for Erie's Hagen History Center as executive director announces retirement

Working with Tom Hagen, Deutsch breathed new life into the complex on West Sixth Street and he will be missed. I’ve always admired Deutsch’s passion for history and looked forward to hearing stories about the volunteers from Erie he would lead to Gettysburg every year to beautify Strong Vincent’s statue on Little Round Top.

On Sept. 9, Hagen History Center Executive Director George Deutsch shows a recently discovered 1861 image of Erie's Strong Vincent, then a second lieutenant in an Erie Civil War regiment.
On Sept. 9, Hagen History Center Executive Director George Deutsch shows a recently discovered 1861 image of Erie's Strong Vincent, then a second lieutenant in an Erie Civil War regiment.

A skilled historian and talented writer, the 67-year-old Deutsch is working on a new book on the famous 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, focusing on the untold history of its final year in the Civil War.

Local reporters who had a question about Erie’s role in historical events over the past 200 years only needed to pick up the phone to call Deutsch. He brought a lot to Erie since returning to his hometown from Washington, D.C.

The search committee charged with finding Deutsch’s successor will be under tremendous pressure to find a director as gifted and knowledgeable as George.

• It always boggles the mind to see the great amounts of money raised and spent on local political races. Expensive, four-color brochures about the candidates seemed to arrive in our mail every day. I always dumped them in the trash after a cursory glance.

More: Wealthy donors push Erie County executive race over $1 million mark

• Now that Daylight Saving Time has ended, daytime workers will be driving home in the dark. We had an extra hour of sleep after the clocks changed Sunday morning, but I won’t feel any more rested.

An extra hour of sleep: When does Daylight Saving Time end? It's almost time to 'fall back' in Pennsylvania

Kentucky Derby hopeful King Guillermo and jockey Miguel Mena breeze, Aug. 22, 2020, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Kentucky Derby hopeful King Guillermo and jockey Miguel Mena breeze, Aug. 22, 2020, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

• Area horse racing fans are mourning the death of jockey Miguel Mena, who died on Halloween night after being hit by a car outside Louisville, Kentucky. Mena, who was 34, was a native of Peru who rode in major stakes races at Presque Isle Downs. He was a friendly person who often took the time to chat with fans.

Mena was a big-time jockey who twice rode horses in the Kentucky Derby and in other major races around the country.

More: Friends struggle with Kentucky Derby jockey Miguel Mena's death in Louisville

• After a recent Mass at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Monsignor Henry Kriegel read the names of parishioners who died during the past year. This is a tradition at many churches around All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The recitation of names is usually accompanied by somber music, but this time, after Kriegel finished, talented soloist Rebecca Jubulis launched into a stirring rendition of “Danny Boy.” It was so moving I had to blink back tears.

Some years ago, when the Catholic Church took a hard stance against “non-sacred” music played at funerals, a priest told me, “You’ll never hear ‘Danny Boy’ in church again.” Thankfully, he was wrong.

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) runs against the Houston Texans during the second quarter in Glendale, Ariz. on Oct. 24.
Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) runs against the Houston Texans during the second quarter in Glendale, Ariz. on Oct. 24.

• Erie’s James Conner is having a terrific season for the Arizona Cardinals. Heading into Sunday’s game against San Francisco, the 26-year-old running back had rushed for 358 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Cardinals running back coach James Saxon, who coached Conner in his first two seasons for the Steelers, said the McDowell High School graduate is “everything we thought he’d be — and more.”

Cardinals' midseason report: What's worked well, what needs improvement after 7-1 start

Former President George W. Bush, shown in this 2015 file photo, will be the featured speaker at the Jefferson Educational Society's 12th annual Global Summit speaker series. The date and time of Bush's Erie visit will be announced at a later date.
Former President George W. Bush, shown in this 2015 file photo, will be the featured speaker at the Jefferson Educational Society's 12th annual Global Summit speaker series. The date and time of Bush's Erie visit will be announced at a later date.

• The more than 1,000 people who’ve purchased tickets to see former President George W. Bush speak on Tuesday at the Bayfront Convention Center would like to hear his take on the just completed elections. Bush’s appearance will be the highlight of the Jefferson Educational Society’s annual Global Summit.

Coming this way: Former President Bush to headline Jefferson Educational Society Global Summit XIII

• Craig Breter hosted a weekend celebration of the 40th year since he purchased the popular French Creek Tavern near Findley Lake, N.Y. The tavern is always a regular meeting spot and especially so during the ski season at nearby Peek’n Peak Resort.

• Speaking of Findley Lake, to celebrate its bicentennial in style in 2024, the village plans to reassemble an 18th century log cabin that stood on the grounds of Lakeside Academy in the early 1900s. The cabin had been sold, dismantled and moved to a bluff overlooking Lake Erie near North East’s Freeport Beach. Mary Norcross, president of the Findley Lake and Mina Historical Society, said the 30-foot by 24 foot cabin, which the society purchased in 2003, will be reconstructed in time for the bicentennial.

• Now that Cedar Fair, parent company of Cedar Point Amusement Park, reached an agreement on a $100 million public-private partnership with the city of Sandusky, Ohio, expect ticket prices to rise to about $50 per person. An 8% parking tax will also be enforced. As part of the agreement, the causeway leading into the park will be rebuilt.

A jubilant Val James shows off the AHL's Calder Cup during the Rochester Amerks championship parade through downtown in May 1983.
A jubilant Val James shows off the AHL's Calder Cup during the Rochester Amerks championship parade through downtown in May 1983.

• This makes me feel old: The Buffalo Sabres recently celebrated the 40th year since Val James became the first Black American to play in the National Hockey League. Before James joined the Sabres, he’d been a star player for the Erie Blades.

Kevin Cuneo can be reached at kevin.cuneo1844@gmail.com.

Kevin Cuneo, columnist
Kevin Cuneo, columnist

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Kevin Cuneo: George Deutsch will be missed, Miguel Mena, James Conner, more

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