Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"If you have nothing in life but a good friend, you're rich." Michelle Kwan

North Allegheny is a large school district north of downtown Pittsburgh, comprised of 12 schools, 8500 students, 672 teachers, and 1141 employees. My friend Joe Bullick worked at North Allegheny for 46 years, and he knew all of them.

This week, Joe Bullick died at the age of 87.  Joe truly embodied all of North Allegheny.  He began as a custodian and worked his way up to become supervisor of the entire district custodial staff.  He coached varsity girls golf (taking my position when I moved to boys golf), girls softball, and bowling. Joe began a scholarship program years ago, which is still going strong. Joe loved the local area, and he had a huge collection of memorabilia related to the growth of the communities that comprise the North Allegheny School District.  He tirelessly moved his collection from building to building, giving endless presentations to groups, until a few years ago, when the museum got its own building, using Joe Bullick's collection as the basis of its curated pieces.  (see link at bottom of article for more about the museum) 

Although Joe had no formal education beyond high school, he wrote and published two books. Joe was devoted to his church, St. Alphonsus, and he wrote a book about the priests and history of that church.  Additionally, Joe wrote an autobiographical  account about being torn between his real mother and his foster parents, as he grew up during the Great Depression and learned many of life's difficult lessons.  The book is called  Put a Tent Over the Circus.  He also wrote a "Town Crier" column for a local magazine to keep the interest in the region's history alive. Joe was a true living historian

Joe never missed the opportunity to support a colleague or friend.  I can attest to this personally - when my husband died, Joe was there for me, with his broad shoulders to cry on and lean on. Throughout the years, as other colleagues fell into fragile and precarious health, Joe was the one person to be counted on to visit them when no one else did.  He was one of the most loyal and giving people I have ever known.

Joe was kind and hardworking, with values that never wavered. When his former neighbors were ill, he was there every day, taking them food and picking up their medicine. He lived a life of service for all of his 87 years. Joe had so many friends because he truly knew how to be a friend.

I cannot think of a single name of anyone in our town who could possible fill Joe's shoes. There are none like him, and there never will be.  I know this: all of Joe's friends are better people because we knew him. In fact, I think Joe Bullick was one of the richest men I have ever known; not in money, but in friendships and love and taking delight and interest in the world around him.  Joe truly was one of a kind. 

I am also rich, along with thousands of others, because we knew Joe Bullick as our friend. Thank you, Joe, for sharing your hard work, your smile, your humor, your dedication, your devotion, your faith, and your love with so many in our community.  Your friendship  made all of us millionaires.

Joe's autobiography:

Article about the Town of McCandless Museum, founded by Joe Bullick

Joe's obituary is not long enough to do him justice!

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
 Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

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