Dunmorean of the Month: Robert Tuffy

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore’s Robert Tuffy, 87, is a proud U.S. Marine veteran.

Tuffy is equally proud of his fellow veterans who served this country over the years.

And he’s more than doing his part to keep alive the memories of deceased veterans.

The retired U.S. Marine served this country for many years. In the past dozen or so years he has tried to keep the memories alive of his fellow veterans by restoring the headstones and placing flowers and flags at the graves of deceased military men at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dunmore.

He is active as a volunteer, helping out on Memorial Day at the Mount Carmel Cemetery.

Despite his advanced age, Tuffy is very active and remains dedicated to restoring graves of deceased veterans in Dunmore.

Tuffy, humble in nature, is a 1953 graduate of Dunmore High School. He and his wife, the former Angela Maruzzeti, have been married for 64 years.

The couple has two daughters, Diane and Donna, and a son, Robert. Another son, Donald, died at 18-months old.

The couple has three grandchildren, Corey, Michael, and Katie.

Tuffy retired from Tobyhanna Army Depot where he was an equipment operator.

He served in Korea for the United States Marine Corps from 1954 through 1957.

Tufty served as Lackawanna County Veterans Affairs Director from 1962 through 1972.

During this time, Tuffy performed outreach work in local Veterans homes.

“I hired some people during this time who had the right heart. And they are keeping it going and doing their best to this day,” Tuffy says.

During his time as Lackawanna County Veterans Affairs Director, the amount of money raised for Veterans programs went from $28,000 to over $2-million annually, he said.

“I am proud of that and of the work done by those we hired.”

And Tuffy Is so proud of his time spent as a U.S. Marine.

“It was a great experience for me,” he said. “I was proud to serve my country.”

Tuffy said he started restoring graves after noticing all of the old and shattered headstones while visiting Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dunmore on one particular Memorial Day several years back.

“I had to get involved right away,” he said. “I wanted to make sure all of the headstones of the veterans of war were restored. They deserved that. I started repairing the headstones one by one. It took me about three years.”

Tuffy restored about 100 graves and stones and even paid for the costs. And, at an advanced age, he did the work.

“A lot of third generation family members were very thankful,” he said. “I did this for the veterans. It is something that needed to be done. They served our country. I just had to get involved.

“These are the unknown soldiers. Most of their families are already deceased. Someone had to do this for them.”

And after replacing or restoring almost 100 headstones, Tuffy remains very active at 87.

“I work out in the yard and in my house,” he said. “I have a lot to do. I keep active and keep moving. And I continue to visit Mount Carmel Cemetery and do what I can do to help with the veterans graves. We need to show great respect to our deceased veterans. Replacing or restoring their stones and maintaining a nice grave site for them is one way of doing it.”

Doin’ Dunmore: U of S hires Lady Bucks coach Ben O’Brien

By Steve Svetovich

Where will a 347-43 record in 14 high school girls basketball seasons get you?

Besides two PIAA championships and 10 district titles, it helped get Ben O’Brien the position of head basketball coach for the University of Scranton Lady Royals.

The veteran Dunmore girls basketball coach was named the eighth head coach of the University of Scranton Lady Royals Tuesday, July 26.

He replaces Nick DiPillo whose Lady Royals teams went 58-8 in three seasons. DiPillo accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh in June.

“We are very happy for Ben,” said John Marichak, superintendent of Dunmore School District. “We are sorry to be losing such a great teacher, coach and role model. His efforts and contributions to the students of Dunmore are appreciated and will be missed.”

The University of Scranton’s search committee interviewed eight candidates remotely before inviting the top four to campus.

O’Brien’s 347-43 coaching record at Dunmore is remarkable and now legendary.

Dunmore senior standout Ciera Toomey, who has committed to the University of Connecticut after she graduates in 2023, commented on the loss of her coach. “I am so happy for coach O’Brien because he really deserves this,” she said.

“He has done so much for our Lady Bucks program. We will really miss him this season and going forward, but the University of Scranton got a great one. I am really excited to see what he is going to accomplish there.

“I am so thankful for everything he has done for me and all the girls who went through the program.

“I think it’s safe to say the University of Scranton just got a lot more fans from Dunmore.”

The University of Scranton’s athletic director is Dave Martin, whose daughter Maddie was a 1,500-point scorer for Dunmore under O’Brien from 2013 to 2017.

O’Brien, 42, developed a dynasty at Dunmore. The Lady Bucks won at least 21 games 13 times in O’Brien’s 14 years there. The only exception was the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 season when the Lady Bucks finished 15-1.

O’Brien led Dunmore to 13 league championships and 10 district titles with 13 state tournament appearances. Dunmore won at least one state playoff game in every appearance and reached the quarterfinals 10 times.

O’Brien earned The Associated Press Class 2A Coach of the Year in 2011 and The Times-Tribune Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2019.

O’Brien plans to resign as social studies teacher at Dunmore.

He leaves a lasting legacy and inherits a Lady Royals program that has won seven straight Landmark Conference Championships and advanced to the Sweet 16 last season with a 27-3 record.

Dunmore sophomore Sophia Talutto is one of the talented players O’Brien leaves behind. “Obviously, I am very happy for him and do think he deserves this,” she said. “It is upsetting to see him go somewhere else, but it is an amazing opportunity for him that he couldn’t pass up.

“Coach O’Brien put countless hours into the Lady Bucks program. It truly shows how much of an impact he made.

“I am very excited to see him grow in the collegiate level and wish him the best of luck at the University of Scranton.”

Athlete of the Month: Morgan Quinn

By Steve Svetovich

You only need to talk to Dunmore junior softball player Morgan Quinn a few minutes to notice her positive demeanor.

And it’s that positive demeanor, combined with her team first attitude and hard work, that makes her a special member of the Dunmore Lady Bucks softball team.

Daughter of Krissy and Sam Quinn, Dunmore, Morgan was second on the team with a .393 batting average and .782 slugging average. She was third on the team with a .433 on base percentage and added five homers, five doubles, a triple and 16 runs scored.

Morgan was primarily the right fielder for the Lady Bucks.

She talked about what it takes to excel in the outfield.

“You need to focus and hustle,” she said. “You need to know where the next play is. You are the last road of defense, so you need to make the play.”

She talked about hitting. “You need to constantly practice. And you need confidence. Confidence is the most important factor in girls softball. If you think you can do it, then you can. It’s a mind set.”

Morgan’s parents are strong role models.

“They tell me first and foremost to be kind. Work hard and believe in yourself.”

Dunmore veteran softball coach Ryan Ferguson taught her a lot. “He tells me to always be positive. There is always a way to win and have fun. Coach Ferguson is great.”

Always positive and kind-hearted, Morgan played AAU softball for nine years. “I loved it.”

She is a member of the Spanish Club, TACT, and the Earth Club at Dunmore. The scholar-athlete has a 95 academic average. Her favorite academic subject is English. She has made high honors every semester and is a member of the National Honor Society.

Morgan is undecided about a college, but thinks she will choose a science major.

She was a Lackawanna Coaches first-team softball all-star for the past two seasons.

Morgan likes music and would like to see Frank Ocean, a rhythm and blues soul artist, in concert.

Morgan is all about Dunmore. “I absolutely love Dunmore,” she said. “It is a tight-knit community. We all support each other here. And I love Dunmore High School and all my friends, teachers, and coaches.”

Morgan was asked about her future goals and provided an interesting answer.

“I want to be successful, but most important, want to help and be kind to people around me. I want to help people feel loved. Then in turn, feel the love inside of me. I will then feel loved. That is the most important thing.”