Water Under the Bridge

By John F. Oyler
Copyright © 2016



Skip Colussy
December 29, 2016



Curtis Copeland Jr. did a fine job convincing us that his father was indeed “Bridgeville’s Favorite Son”; the passing of Skip Colussy has me wondering if there is room for more than one person to claim that distinction.

I was three years behind Skip at Bridgeville High School, a Freshman when he was a Senior. I remember being particularly impressed that someone I knew was on the football team. His mother sponsored some sort of youth group at the Bethany Church, and we occasionally met at the Colussy home, so it was easy for me to consider Skip a friend.

The expression “easy for me to consider Skip a friend” could be his epitaph. Throughout his long, productive life he was typified by his easy going manner, his constant grin, and his inherent capability of making everyone feel he was their friend.

Skip went off to W and J after high school and then into the Army for a tour of duty in Korea. Upon his return from military service he married Virginia Keefner and went to work in the family business, Colussy Motor Company. In 1968 he took over the business from his father and shepherded its transition into one of the largest auto dealerships in the area. He was certainly the antithesis to our stereotype automobile salesman. Skip retired in 2000, turning the business over to his sons Tim and Jonathan.

Virginia was the perfect mate for Skip, his soulmate for fifty nine years until her death in 2012. She was a great lady and the perfect matriarch for that branch of the Colussy clan. I knew her when the Keefners first moved to Bridgeville and she became part of our Bethany clique. In fact I believe I took her to her first formal dance at Bridgeville High School. I remember feeling overwhelmed that my date for this affair was this beautiful, gracious young lady.

Folks of our generation are well aware of the popularity of nicknames in those days. I suspect a lot of people would have difficulty remembering that Skip had been named for his grandfather, Louis, and I am not sure he would have responded automatically if someone had addressed him as Louis.

There is a theory that the nickname Skip refers to a skipped generation, a situation like this one in which a grandson inherits his grandfather’s name rather than his father’s. It does seem logical.

Among the poignant photographs and artifacts at the funeral home for Skip’s viewing was a manikin dressed in an Army Sergeant’s uniform. The campaign ribbons were familiar to me. At the time Skip was coming home, I was going into the service and eventually ended up in the Far East. Although the cease-fire in Korea had occurred, those of us with cushy assignments in Japan still qualified for the same campaign ribbons.

Skip’s Korean service ribbon, however, also included three battle stars. I have no knowledge of his experience in Koran during the war; legitimate service heroes are consistently reticent about such events. According to the “News Obituary”, Skip ran a motor pool in Korea. I suspect there is a more significant story behind those three battle stars.

After his active retirement from the auto agency Skip continued his service to Bridgeville, including a term on the Borough Council. I was fortunate to have considerable contact with him related to his involvement in the Bridgeville Area Historical Society. His chairmanship of the Society’s Board of Directors brought a much needed business perspective to a struggling non-profit organization.

The last time I saw Skip was at the “Second Tuesday” workshop on the Greenwood neighborhood. We will miss his cheerful demeanor and relevant comments.

Water Under the Bridge

  • "Water Under the Bridge" is a column written by historian John Oyler. It appears weekly in the Bridgeville Area News, a TribTotal Media publication, as well as in a more expanded form on his blog.

The Author

  • Aside from being Bridgeville's foremost historian, Dr. John F. Oyler is also an associate professor at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh, where he teaches classes in civil engineering.

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