Anthony Gergely, an advocate for the beautification of Johnstown and candidate in the city’s 2013 mayoral race, died Friday morning.
He was 79.
Gergely, a downtown resident, was running against Frank Janakovic for the Democratic Party nomination.
During his campaign, Gergely repeatedly emphasized his belief that residents needed to work together to help make the city more aesthetically pleasing, which would help attract businesses to the area. He wanted to clean up Main Street, restore the State Theater, bring a riverboat casino to town, put a balloon dam on the Stonycreek River to create a reservoir for recreation and establish a program for making sculptures from the stumps of cut-down trees.
“I’m trying to develop things that give people a sense of pride,” Gergely said during a recent interview with The Tribune-Democrat.
He had dedicated himself to improving the appearance of Johnstown since he returned to the region in 2003.
Gergely worked to enhance what he called the city’s “gateways” by installing vintage-style light posts on local bridges. Gergely funded the Johnstown Bridge Lighting Project by collecting donations from residents of at least 30 states as well as Ireland, Canada and England. No taxpayer money was used to pay for the lights.
He served on the Stone Bridge Lighting Project Committee. The group worked to install the programable LED lights that bathe the historic structure in a rainbow of color at night, often in celebration of specific events such as Easter, July 4, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.
“He did a lot of community service work,” Janakovic said. “The city will miss him.”
No cause of death had been officially reported as of Friday.
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