NORTHERN CAMBRIA —
Jim Whited remembers the days when he was police chief of Spangler Borough and one of his strongest supporters was Gig Certo.
When Dee Nagle, Northern Cambria borough manager, thinks of him, she thinks of a friend and marvels that despite his illness, he showed up at a council meeting Jan. 16 because there was business to address.
Mr. Certo, 67, died Tuesday at his home in the Spangler neighborhood of the borough.
It was the community where he lived all of his life.
“He was unique. I liked him,” Whited said from his home Thursday. “He was good to me and it is going to be hard to fill the void he has left.”
Mr. Certo was serving his second term on
Borough Council and was its president.
He worked much of his adult life as a coal miner for Barnes & Tucker and Beth Energy Mines until 1990, when he was forced to retire following a mining accident.
But his injuries did not stop him from helping the Northern Cambria community, where he is best remembered for his activities with recreation initiatives.
When prison inmates were enlisted to help with development of a recreation site for the community, Mr. Certo did the cooking necessary to feed the workers, Nagle said.
He put all he had into development of recreation initiates in the southern end of town, she said.
His illness had been progressing. Mr. Certo was unable to attend a meeting at the first of the month, but made sure he got to the council meeting just five days before his death.
“He did all he could to get down here,” Nagle said. “I kept telling him his health comes first, but he was a fighter.”
Whited will never forget Mr. Certo’s enthusiasm, especially with recreation and the local fire company.
“He was a dedicated man. When he was in there, he was gung-ho,” Whited said.
Attorney Dennis Govachini recalled Mr. Certo’s dedication and honesty. Their relationship was professional and personal, he said.
“He was a good guy, a good and honest man,” Govachini said. “He wasn’t all that diplomatic, but he had the best interest of Northern Cambria at heart.”
Not only will Govachini, who is solicitor for Northern Cambria, miss Mr. Certo at council meetings and as a friend, but he will miss his cooking.
“He made me the best hot peppers,” the Ebensburg lawyer said. “He gave me the recipe one time, but I never got around to making them.”
Borough Council Vice President Rita Montanaro will take over as president. The search will be on for a replacement to fill the vacancy created by Mr. Certo’s death, Nagle said.
Action is expected at the Feb. 10 council meeting to begin accepting applications from Ward 3 residents interested Mr. Certo’s term, which runs through the end of 2015.
The application period will expire March 3, and Nagle anticipates an appointment at the March 10 council meeting.
Mr. Certo was a life member of the Spangler Fire Company, where he served as chief for many years. He also was member of firemens organizations at the county and state level and was involved in a number of veterans organizations.
Friends will be received this afternoon and evening at the Moriconi Funeral Home, Northern Cambria, with the funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Saturday at Prince of Peace Church.
Kathy Mellott covers the northern Cambria County area for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.