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  • 17 Jun 2024 8:30 AM | Edward Strauser (Administrator)

    Famous Eagle Scouts from Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania

    The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) has a long and storied history of recognizing and celebrating the highest achievers in Scouting (formerly known as the Boy Scouts of America). Founded in 1912, NESA has been dedicated to honoring those who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout, Scouting's highest achievement, for over a century. This prestigious award is earned by only a small percentage of Scouts, making it a true mark of distinction.

    While NESA is a national organization, it has a strong presence in local councils throughout the United States. In the Pittsburgh area, the Laurel Highlands Council has an active NESA chapter that provides opportunities for Eagle Scouts in the region to gather, network, and engage in community service projects. The Laurel Highlands Council, which serves the greater Pittsburgh area, has a long and rich history of Scouting, with many local troops and districts dating back to the early 20th century. Over the years, numerous Eagle Scouts from the region have gone on to achieve great things in their personal and professional lives.

    Notable Eagle Scouts

    One of the most famous Eagle Scouts from Pittsburgh is the late Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, who earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1944. Dr. Starzl was a pioneering surgeon who performed the world's first successful liver transplant in 1967 and went on to establish the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's transplantation program. His groundbreaking work in organ transplantation has saved countless lives and revolutionized the field of medicine. Dr. Starzl's remarkable achievements earned him numerous accolades, including the National Medal of Science and the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.

    Another notable Eagle Scout from the region is the late Arnold Palmer, who earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1947. Palmer, born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, went on to become one of the greatest golfers of all time, winning seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour events. He was also a successful businessman, philanthropist, and ambassador for the sport of golf. Palmer's character and leadership skills, honed during his time as a Scout, undoubtedly contributed to his success both on and off the course. His charisma and sportsmanship made him a beloved figure in the golfing world and beyond.

    The late Fred Rogers, beloved host of the long-running children's television series "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," was also an Eagle Scout. Mr. Rogers, who earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1946, was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and attended Rollins College in Florida before returning to Pittsburgh to work in television. His gentle demeanor and commitment to educating and nurturing children made him a cultural icon and a role model for generations of young people. Mr. Rogers' enduring legacy continues to inspire and influence countless individuals around the world.

    In the realm of politics, several Eagle Scouts from Western Pennsylvania have made their mark. The late H. John Heinz III, who earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1953, served as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1977 until his tragic death in a plane crash in 1991. During his time in office, Heinz was known for his bipartisan approach and his commitment to issues such as healthcare, trade, and the environment. His dedication to public service and his tireless efforts to improve the lives of his constituents made him a respected figure in American politics.

    Another Eagle Scout who has made a significant impact in politics is Tom Ridge, who earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1960. Ridge, born in Munhall, Pennsylvania, served as the first Secretary of Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005 and was previously the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania. Throughout his career, Ridge has been a strong advocate for national security and emergency preparedness. His leadership during challenging times, such as the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, demonstrated the value of the skills and character he developed as an Eagle Scout.

    In the world of entertainment, James Stewart, an acclaimed actor from the region, is also an Eagle Scout. Stewart, born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1928. He went on to have a prolific career in Hollywood, starring in iconic films such as "It's a Wonderful Life," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and "Rear Window." Stewart's performances were often characterized by his everyman charm and moral integrity, qualities that aligned with the values he learned as a Scout. He remained committed to Scouting throughout his life, serving as a council president and promoting the organization's ideals.

    These are just a few examples of the many notable Eagle Scouts who have come from Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. The leadership skills, character, and values instilled in these individuals through Scouting have undoubtedly contributed to their success and impact in their respective fields.

    The National Eagle Scout Association continues to recognize and support the achievements of Eagle Scouts nationwide, providing opportunities for networking, mentorship, and community service. As more young people in the Pittsburgh area and beyond strive to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, they can look to these notable individuals as examples of the great things that can be achieved through dedication, hard work, and a commitment to Scouting values.

    The Pittsburgh region has a proud history of producing exceptional Eagle Scouts who have made significant contributions to society. From medicine and politics to business and entertainment, these individuals have demonstrated the lasting impact of Scouting and the values it instills. As the National Eagle Scout Association continues its mission of recognizing and supporting Eagle Scouts, it is clear that the future is bright for Scouting in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. The organization's long-standing commitment to honoring and promoting the ideals of Scouting, combined with the rich history of the Pittsburgh area, ensures that many more Eagle Scouts from the region will continue to make a positive difference in the world.

  • 30 May 2024 9:35 AM | Edward Strauser (Administrator)

    This is a short anecdote about how Chris Gardner came to join the Pittsburgh Chapter of NESA, having recently made an introduction and spoke to our members during the May membership social. 

    About 4 years ago, Bill Kofmehl and his son went to an Original Mattress Factory location to purchase a mattress. It was later in the day, and the staff was starting to pack things up. Bill and his son picked out a mattress and began the checkout process. Bill pulled around to load the mattress. A gentleman came out and began securing the mattress to Bill's vehicle. What was odd was that the staff member wasn't dressed in the typical employee garb, a polo shirt and jeans, but rather a collared dress shirt and dress slacks. The gentleman began tying up the mattress, utilizing many knots that Bill knew, too well. The gentleman's demeanor was uplifting, cheerful, and exhibited a genuine commitment to service. 

    Bill commented, "you must've been an Eagle". 

    Chris Gardner was indeed an Eagle, and still is today. These not so random acts of kindness, cheerfulness, service - these are the telltale signs of an Eagle in the wild. This is a cornerstone of NESA Pittsburgh's mission - to seek other Eagles and bring them into our fold. Chris recently joined us at our May Membership Social, Beers and Brats, and told us a bit about himself - eager to join our association and contribute to the legacy of Eagles in the Pittsburgh area. 

    In 96’ Chris started at the Original Mattress Factory, working his way up the career ladder.  Chris was instrumental in leading the company's pivot during Covid to producing masks, and saving the company. Chris is an avid writer, maintaining a personal blog and, just having his first book published: “The Other Side of the Sun”, an Amazon best-seller. This post-apocalyptic novel taps into Chris' roots from wilderness survival and Scouting. Chris has a lot to offer NESA Pittsburgh, and we welcome him into our group.

  • 17 May 2024 9:00 AM | Edward Strauser (Administrator)

    The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) has a rich history and a legacy that spans over a century. Founded in 1912, NESA has been at the forefront of recognizing and supporting the highest rank in the Scouts BSA program (formerly known as the Boy Scouts of America) – the Eagle Scout. This prestigious rank represents a significant milestone in a Scout's journey, embodying the values of leadership, service, and character. In this blog post, we'll delve into the history of NESA, its mission, and the profound impact it has had on countless individuals and communities throughout the years.

    The journey of NESA began just two years after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded in 1910. The BSA recognized the need to celebrate and honor the young individuals who had achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, which required a significant commitment to leadership, service, and outdoor skills. In 1912, the first Eagle Scout award was presented to Arthur Rose Eldred, marking the beginning of a long and distinguished tradition. Since then, more than 2.5 million individuals have earned this prestigious rank, each one representing a unique story of perseverance, dedication, and achievement.

    As the Scouts BSA program evolved to include both male and female participants, NESA continued to support and recognize all Eagle Scouts, regardless of gender. The association's mission remains to serve Eagle Scouts and, through them, the entire Scouting movement. NESA works tirelessly to promote the principles of Scouting, to maintain contact with Eagle Scouts, and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information among this exceptional group of individuals.

    One of the primary ways NESA supports Eagle Scouts is through its robust scholarship program. Since 1984, NESA has awarded over $10 million in scholarships to Eagle Scouts pursuing higher education. These scholarships are made possible through the generous donations of NESA members and supporters, and they have helped countless Eagle Scouts achieve their academic and professional goals. By investing in the education of these young leaders, NESA is not only supporting individual success but also contributing to the development of future leaders who will make a positive impact on society.

    In addition to its scholarship program, NESA provides a wide range of resources and opportunities for Eagle Scouts to continue their personal and professional growth. The association hosts regular events and gatherings, such as the National Eagle Scout Association Gathering, which brings together Eagle Scouts from across the country for networking, learning, and celebration. These events provide a unique platform for Eagle Scouts to connect with one another, share their experiences, and learn from each other's successes and challenges. NESA also maintains an online directory of Eagle Scouts, which serves as a valuable resource for members to connect with one another and build lasting relationships within the Scouting community.

    The impact of NESA extends far beyond the individual Eagle Scouts it serves. The association has played a crucial role in promoting the values of Scouting and in developing leaders who make a positive difference in their communities and the world. Many Eagle Scouts have gone on to achieve remarkable things in their personal and professional lives, and they often credit their experience in Scouting and their involvement with NESA as key factors in their success. These individuals serve as powerful examples of the transformative impact of Scouting and the importance of organizations like NESA in fostering leadership and character development.

    One such Eagle Scout is Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon. Armstrong earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1947 and remained involved with Scouting throughout his life. In a statement to NESA, Armstrong said, "Eagle Scouts are the best of the best. They are the leaders of tomorrow. They are the ones who will make a difference in the world." His words underscore the significance of the Eagle Scout rank and the role that NESA plays in supporting and recognizing these exceptional individuals.

    Another notable Eagle Scout is Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart. Walton earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1936 and credited Scouting with teaching him the values of hard work, perseverance, and service to others. These values helped him build one of the largest and most successful companies in the world, and they continue to guide Walmart's mission and culture to this day. Walton's story is a testament to the enduring impact of Scouting and the importance of organizations like NESA in nurturing the next generation of leaders.

    As NESA looks to the future, it remains steadfast in its commitment to serving all Eagle Scouts, regardless of gender, and promoting the timeless values of Scouting. The association continues to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of its members, while staying true to its core mission of recognizing and supporting excellence in Scouting. Through its programs, events, and resources, NESA is building a strong foundation for the future, ensuring that the legacy of the Eagle Scout rank will continue to inspire and guide young leaders for generations to come.

    The history and legacy of the National Eagle Scout Association is a story of leadership, service, and excellence. From its founding in 1912 to its ongoing support of Eagle Scouts today, NESA has played a vital role in recognizing and developing some of the most outstanding young leaders in the country. Through its scholarship program, events, and resources, NESA continues to help Eagle Scouts achieve their full potential and make a difference in the world. As we look to the future, we can be certain that NESA will continue to be a driving force for good, and that its legacy will endure, as it supports all individuals who earn the rank of Eagle Scout. The impact of NESA extends beyond the individual, as the association's work contributes to building stronger communities, a better nation, and a brighter future for all.

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