Statue dedication to honor teacher

HOLLIDAYSBURG – It’s three years since the Hollidaysburg Area class of 1960’s 50th high school reunion, but Patrick Cummings’ former students are still talking about him.

To honor their algebra teacher, baseball coach and class adviser whose passion for teaching inspired them long after graduation, the former students have raised more than $6,000 for gifts to the school district.

“He is just a remarkable man,” said Nancy Huether, a 1960 alumnus, of Cummings.

The class raised money for a life-size bronze tiger statue and plaque commemorating Cummings, who is now 86 years old and living in Phoenix with his wife, Patricia, near their sons Randy and Mike.

The statue will be unveiled in the Senior High School gymnasium at 1 p.m. Saturday with a reception to follow.

Huether led a committee of 10 alumni who raised money by contacting as many of their classmates as they could find about 190 total.

She expects classmates currently living as far away as Texas, Delaware and Ohio to attend the dedication and reception.

“We heard from people we haven’t heard from in 50 years,” Huether said.

In addition to the statue, the class will also present a gift of more than $1,000 to the Hollidaysburg Area School District Foundation.

The foundation supports classroom grants, educational visits from influential people and other opportunities that are outside of the school district operating budget, said Dawn Garrity, district foundation board of directors president.

Cummings, a Hollidaysburg native, graduated from Hollidaysburg in 1945 and joined the Navy. After his discharge, he earned a bachelor’s degree in education, specializing in high school mathematics. He later earned a master’s in education from Penn State University.

He taught math at Penn State’s University Park and Altoona campuses, but teaching at Hollidaysburg Area was his favorite, his son Randy Cummings said.

“Teaching students was a reward to him, never work,” said Randy, a 1969 Hollidaysburg Area alumnus. “He was always interested to see what careers his students chose and baseball players chose, and he was happy to hear from them after they graduated.”

Cummings has Alzheimer’s disease and cannot travel.

“It would really mean a lot to him to be there [for the dedication],” Randy said.

Randy will be at the dedication and will stream the event live on his iPad so his father will be able to see and communicate with people in Hollidaysburg.

Huether expects a crowd of more than a hundred former faculty, alumni and school board members to attend the reception.

Randy said his father smiled when he spoke with him about the class of 1960.

“That was a special class,” Cummings said. “I was honored to be their advisor, and I appreciated the talents of those students.”