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Ferner remembered as giant that revived Tyrone paper mill

TYRONE — John H. Ferner is being remembered as a leader who helped bring the Tyrone paper mill back to life.

Ferner, 77 of Tyrone, died Thursday.

He worked for 39 years at the Westvaco Paper Mill in Tyrone until the day it closed in 2001.

Ferner, with other community leaders, formed Team Ten LLC and reopened the paper mill as American Eagle Paper Mills in 2003. He served as president of American Eagle Paper Mills from 2003 until he retired in 2012.

“You are talking about a giant. John Ferner was truly a pioneer and a huge influence for Tyrone and Blair County,” said Robert C. Jubelirer, who was the state senator for the 30th District at the time.

John worked with ABCD Corp. and Marty Marasco to obtain the grant for Team Ten to buy the mill, said Clark Adelman, a Team Ten member, and today the mill’s chief financial officer.

“John put together the team of previous employees that were needed to reopen the mill. He worked to get the local businessmen that were needed to become partners for financial backers,” Adelman said. “John was the guiding force in putting the team together.”

Marasco, who was ABCD Corp. president and CEO at the time, said Ferner was a very loyal and dedicated person who cared about the community, the mill and

its employees.

“He was one of the leaders of Team Ten. He continued to be very aggressive to make sure the mill would reopen,” Marasco said. “John was very instrumental in making it happen. I can’t say enough positive things about John; he had the respect of the people he dealt with and the community as a whole.”

“John was always there to step to the forefront, he was very supportive in trying to make it happen and it did,” Marasco said.

Jubelirer cited Ferner’s leadership.

“Without John’s leadership, the paper mill would have closed and hundreds of workers would be let go. Enough cannot be said about … how he worked to save that key industry and the jobs it created as well as the future of Tyrone,” Jubelirer said.

Both Harry Sickler and Rose Black said Ferner, who also served on the Tyrone Area School Board from 1980-88, was dedicated to the community.

“John was very active in whatever the community needed,” said Sickler, a Team Ten member. “You could always ask John for help. If he didn’t provide personal help, the paper mill would. He was very community minded. He was very active with the schools. He was very supportive of all Tyrone sports. He was like his dad (Lynne), he always showed up.”

Black, executive director of the Tyrone Area Chamber of Commerce, said she worked with Ferner on numerous committees, including Camp Anderson.

“Everyone trusted him. He was fair and hard working. John was level-headed and treated everybody fairly. He was very dedicated to the community and his employees; he treated his employees like he did his family,” Black said.

Funeral services for Ferner were held Monday at Warriors Mark United Methodist Church. Interment followed at the Graysville Cemetery in Franklin Township.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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