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Thomas A. Bond Jr.

Passes away at 78

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LOCAL NEWS   Obituaries

Thomas A. Bond Jr. / Force behind Penn Hills High musical theater

Friday, July 22, 2005

By Judy Laurinatis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Thomas A. Bond Jr. was a retired history teacher, administrator in the Penn Hills School District and Civil War buff.

But to students and colleagues, Mr. Bond was the moving force behind every musical theater production on the Penn Hills High School stage for more than 40 years.

"The theater was his life," said his daughter, Melanie Bond, of Milwaukee. His first spring musical was "Bye Bye Birdie" in 1963.

Mr. Bond died Monday from complications resulting from a stroke in August. He was 78.

Former student Michelle Bartos is grateful Mr. Bond lived long enough to learn that the high school auditorium is being renamed the Thomas A. Bond Auditorium in his honor. The school board approved the change in the spring and the Student Council has asked to cover the cost of the new sign.

Bartos, a member of the Class of 1965, first met Mr. Bond when she was performing in a musical and he was stage crew sponsor, producer and set designer. He had boundless energy and formed a bond with the students that lasted a lifetime, she said.

"They really respected him because he respected them," Bartos said.

For 11 years she worked with Mr. Bond, first co-directing then directing musicals, and two things stood out.

He was the go-to guy when things needed to be done and he was one spiffy dresser, she said.

"He was Mr. GQ," Bartos said.

Mr. Bond would wear one of his two tuxedo jackets, one white and one black, to meet and greet patrons in the auditorium lobby before and after the shows. During the performance, he'd change into his "all blacks" so he could do stage crew work.

He inspired the students he worked with and urged a 7-foot-tall Penn Hills High School basketball player to follow his dream of becoming an actor, his daughter said.

The player, Kevin Peter Hall, graduated in 1972 and used a basketball scholarship to go to college. But he eventually went to Hollywood and worked in movies, including "Predator" and "Harry and the Hendersons," in which he played the lovable giant, Harry. Hall died in 1991.

Mr. Bond "was eternally youthful and related to kids," said John Paul Bertucci, a 1991 Penn Hills graduate and owner of English-Bertucci Funeral Home in Oakmont, where the family held visitation this week.

"I was on his stage crew," said Bertucci, who later choreographed Penn Hills' 1995 production of "My Fair Lady." He said he not only learned about the workings of the theater, he was inspired by the hard work and dedication to things he loved by the man he considers one of his mentors.

As with so many other former stage crew members, he remained friends with Mr. Bond through the years.

Mr. Bond was a 1945 graduate of Penn Hills High School and served in the Army as a radar officer on a troop ship at the end of World War II. He started his education career in 1950 as a high school history teacher in Penn Hills after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh.

He became district curriculum coordinator in 1963, then district director of personnel. He retired in 1982 but continued as stage crew sponsor until last year.

"Tom was such a remarkable man, and our condolences go out to the entire Bond family," said Patricia Gennari, Penn Hills superintendent of schools.

"This school district has lost a great teacher, administrator, supporter, mentor and friend, and the Penn Hills community has lost a very energizing and dedicated presence," she said.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Bond's surviving family members are his wife of 54 years, Patricia G. Bond; a son, Navy Capt. Robert Lee Bond of Stafford, Va., and three grandchildren.

Funeral services are at 10 a.m. today at St. Irenaeus Church in Oakmont.

Stage crew members, past and present, will serve as pallbearers and honorary pallbearers.


(Judy Laurinatis can be reached at jlaurinatis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1884.)


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