Ebensburg’s Tusing ‘living my bucket list’
EBENSBURG — The phrase “busy as a bee” indicates one is hardworking and industrious, and Gina Tusing of Ebensburg personifies that definition, displaying visible passion in a wide array of interests.
In addition to her day job as DUI manager for Cambria County’s District Attorney, Tusing is a beekeeper, a Master Gardener and plays violin in several venues, including the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s community string group, the musical quartet “La Bella Musica” and at her church, the Basillica of St. Michael the Archangel in Loretto.
She is also the church’s soprano/alto/tenor/bass choir conductor and sings in its folk group.
Her interest in horticulture developed at an early age, and Tusing credits her mother with inspiring the gardening passion that has endured for decades. In 2014, she took classes offered through the Penn State Extension Master Gardener program and became a Master Gardener.
“I’ve always loved gardening,” Tusing, 54, said. “I had my first garden when I was 7. My mother gave me a packet of radishes, and I planted, watered and weeded as instructed, with great success.
“I find tranquillity in maintaining a garden, and weeding is prayerful for me and brings me close to God.”
Joyce Long is the current coordinator of the Penn State Extension Master Gardening of Cambria County.
Long credits Tusing as being instrumental in the Master Gardening project at the Cambria County Courthouse coming to fruition.
The project included landscaping with native plants at the front and side of the courthouse, and a pollinator garden in the rear.
“Gina’s initiative and motivation helped get the courthouse project underway,” Long said. “She never stops. She is full of energy and ideas and is always willing to work alongside anyone.”
Shortly after completing the Master Gardener course, Tusing became a beekeeper, inspired by her father who, as a young man, kept bees on the rural farm where she grew up.
When bears discovered the hives, her father became concerned for the safety of his family and got rid of the hives.
Years later, Tusing bought a hive for her father as a gift so he could resume his interest while sharing his beekeeping knowledge with her.
“I thought it would be a great father-daughter activity for us to do together,” Tusing said.
What began as a solitary hive project soon grew into a larger operation. Tusing maintains the only certified apiary in the borough, with her three backyard hives housing approximately 100,000 bees per hive.
Tusing credits her father for teaching her many valuable beekeeping skills and acknowledges their shared interest provides a special bond between them.
“My dad has Alzheimer’s now, but his long-term memory is intact, and I still go to him with any questions about bees,” Tusing said.
Tusing and her husband, Doug, have been married 31 years and have three children. When Doug’s career as a civil engineer took the family oversees for a decade, they lived in both Italy and Belgium before returning to the U.S. after his engineering retirement.
Returning stateside, the Tusings relocated back to Cambria County to be close to family and settled in Ebensburg, purchasing a historic home built in 1900.
“The house was in a terrible state of disrepair when we bought it and needed a lot of work,” Tusing said. “But it was perfect for us, allowing us to fit all that we wanted to do into the space we had, combining country living within the city. We didn’t find this house, the house found us.”
Living in Europe, Tusing developed a musical interest in the violin while watching her children learn the Suzuki method as part of their school’s course requirements.
“The kids were playing the violin using the Suzuki teaching program, which was part of the standard curriculum in Italy. I was fascinated with the violin and began taking private lessons in 1996 to learn to play,” Tusing said.
Returning to Ebensburg in 2001, Tusing joined the musical quartet group, “La Bella Musica,” featuring two violins, a cello and piano.
Mary Creany of Ebensburg plays cello in the group that performs a variety of music genres, from classical to rock, at weddings and other special engagements.
“We play music from Bach to the Beatles,” Creany said. “Gina and I have performed together for nearly two decades. She has lots of energy, is positive, gracious, talented, a lot of fun and a very good friend.”
With all the activities Tusing is involved in, her smartphone helps keep her busy schedule on track. Yet she still finds time for another passion — baking cookies.
“Life is a collection of changes that help you grow and enriches you and your family. I don’t need a bucket list when I retire,” Tusing said. “I am living my bucket list now.”
The Tusing file
Name: Gina Tusing
Family: Husband, Doug; son, Matthew (wife, Stephanie); daughter, Brittany (husband Bobby Bono); son, Adam
Occupation: Cambria County District Attorney office support staff
Education: Blacklick Valley High School, Penn State Altoona, The Roman Cookery School