By Michael Zaken
There are several of us within PCB who had Tony Evancic as a teacher at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children (WPSBC). He was a demanding teacher who expected students to perform beyond their perceived abilities. He taught us to believe in ourselves, which prepared us to be successful in life. Our peers from the eastern part of the state may also remember Tony’s teaching style from the two years he taught for Overbrook. His style of teaching certainly left an impression on his students.
Tony began his WPSBC career as a fifth-grade teacher and later moved on to teaching high school grades. He taught all types of math and several languages. His memory was phenomenal, such that he would do math in his head, or switch from one language to another in an instant. This came in handy when he worked as an educational consulted in Chile for six weeks. There is no doubt many of us would not have made it through college or had a successful career if we had not had Tony as a teacher. He became the Secondary Supervisor at WPSBC before retirement. He also served on the school’s board for 8 years.
Tony believed in community service. He was active in his neighborhood association and his local Lions Club. He especially enjoyed service to blindness organizations. At Radio Information Service, Pittsburgh’s former radio reading service, Tony served as Treasurer, assisted with braille transcription, and read on-air for the Data Stream program. Many years ago, Tony collaborated on the development of early computer speech and actively participated in the Visually Impaired Pittsburgh Area Computer Enthusiasts group (VIPACE). Tony was a certified braille proofreader for the Library of Congress and advised on creating braille texts for the Public-School Systems.
As many of us were fortunate to witness first-hand, Tony’s passion for many decades was the Council. He served as the Treasurer of both the Golden Triangle chapter and our Pennsylvania affiliate. Tony was also a stickler for following the rules, so naturally he volunteered as chairman of the bylaws committee for both organizations. Over the years, Tony attended many PCB conventions. He was a wise and humble leader on the PCB board. He was usually the last person to speak because he patiently listened to every side of a discussion and then usually put forth a perspective that neither side had considered.
Tony enjoyed music. He studied piano at Duquesne University and was an accomplished pianist. He enjoyed attending symphonies at Heinz Hall and sang with the Brailletones, a mostly blind group in Pittsburgh.
Tony liked problem solving and engaging in a good debate. While he never wanted to be the center of attention, he desired to help others find the right solutions to their problems. Many people were extremely impressed with his vast amount of knowledge.
Tony was a devoted family man who enjoyed time with his siblings, daughter Joan, and two wives. Tony spent most of his life living independently and traveling with his wife Rosemary and later in life with his wife Philagonas. They enjoyed dining out and traveled on many cruises. When each of Tony’s wives experienced health declines, Tony devotedly took care of them so they would not need to go into a nursing home. Unfortunately, Tony did spend the last bit of his time in a nursing home after a fall and subsequent medical decline. He died on February 15, 2021 at Sunrise of Upper St. Clair in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Tony will be greatly missed, and his legacy will never fade, because he remains a part of us.