Dunmorean of the Month: John Barrett

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore lost an educator in every sense of the word when John C. Barrett passed away Monday, Sept. 27, after a battle with prostate cancer.

Son of the late Louis “Bud” and Evelyn Margaret “Peggy” Barrett, he died at the home of his devoted partner, Peggy Burke.

A humble and always well-dressed man, Barrett graduated from Dunmore Central Catholic High School in 1969. 

He was a proud graduate of Kings College earning a bachelor of science. degree in secondary English education in 1973. He then earned a master of science degree in secondary school administration from the University of Scranton. 

Barrett began a lengthy and satisfying career as an educator when he started teaching English and speech composition in 1973 in the Dunmore School District. He later served as vice principal of Dunmore High School and principal of Dunmore Middle School. 

He was an inspiration not only to his numerous students, but also to his nieces and nephews, who looked at him as a second father or grandfather.

He looked at education as bringing a student’s potential into actuality.

If you looked at the definition of “gentleman” in the dictionary, you would find John C. Barrett of Dunmore. 

He had many other interests including traveling, architecture, reading historical biographies, working in real estate, and gardening.

He was well-known for walking in a polyester or corduroy suit to and from the high school throughout Dunmore neighborhoods. 

A man of humility, he was polite and kind to those who met him throughout his years as an educator.

And it was quite a journey. 

His career as an educator lasted until 2008. His final position was principal at the Dunmore Middle School. 

“He owned rental properties and loved houses and architecture,” his beloved partner Peggy said. “He loved traveling and reading.

“He was truly a gentleman, very humble. He was the epitome of kindness. He put family first ahead of himself. John never married or had children, but treated his nieces and nephews as if they were his own children.” 

A Notre Dame and Boston Red Sox fan, he always put his students first. 

“He believed in treating students fairly and was always there for them,” Peggy said. “He treated every student the same.

“He was a tough disciplinarian and believed in working to the best of your ability. He believed in a strong work ethic.

“He believed a student should come to school everyday and earn his or her paycheck. Your report card or grade was your paycheck.”

His sister, Barbara Jordan, said he was dedicated to giving the best of himself to the students of Dunmore. “The world has a few good men and he is one of them,” she said.

“He lived by the rules of kindness and selflessness. 

“He loved landscaping and walking. He bought his first car when he was in his 30s. Everyone in Dunmore saw him walking in his corduroy sport coat and tie. He loved walking to school and throughout the neighborhood.” 

Tom Jordan, retired Robert Morris Elementary School principal, was his brother-in-law. “John Barrett was a total gentleman his entire life,” he said.

“He was one of those men who looked the role, acted the role, was the role and dressed appropriately.

“He has a brother, Jimmy, who owns Roads Scholar Transport. I called them ‘Flash’ and ‘Cash,’ with John being ‘Cash.’ John had a good business mind too.” 

Besides his sister Barbara and twin brother Jimmy, Barrett is survived by his sister Betsy Laffey and numerous nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews, including one on the way. He was the godfather of eight children. 

Dunmorean of the Month: Bob Ragnacci

By Steve Svetovich

Serving the public with high quality dining at affordable pricing has been Bobby Ragnacci’s forte for the past 40 years.

His business, Ragnacci’s Restaurant, 507 S. Blakely St., Dunmore, is one of the best known establishments in the area.

Son of Antoinette and the late Robert Ragnacci, the long-time restaurant owner, a 1973 Dunmore graduate, received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from East Stroudsburg University in 1977. 

He quickly became a teacher at the Dunmore Elementary Center, but was furloughed in 1979-80 before going back to teaching there again in 1989 until he retired in 2015.

Still, he found out during his furlough from teaching that the restaurant business was in his blood.

His uncle, August DiBiasie, opened the restaurant in 1963 and ran it until 1981 when it was known as Sharkey’s.,

“I worked there in high school and then again in college, so I had a feel for it,” said Ragnacci, “I started teaching at Dunmore, but when I got furloughed, that is what pushed it for me to be in the restaurant business. I bought the business from my uncle in 1981. I eventually started teaching at Dunmore again in 1989, so I needed help from the family to keep running the business. 

“I had a lot of help from my wife and early on from my uncle. My mom helped out a lot in the restaurant. My mom is 88 now. My dad handled the paperwork and bills until he passed away in 2000.”

Married for 30 years to the former Antoinette Pasquariello, Ragnacci, 65, has no immediate plans of retiring.

“We have a lot of loyal customers. I can almost always predict what night they will be in and what they will order. A lot of times they go out of their way to compliment one of our waitresses for their service and the food served. That is the most exciting and best part of running a restaurant. It is nice seeing that. It is rewarding.” 

Ragnacci said his goal has always been to serve quality food at affordable prices.

His specialties at the restaurant include Italian homemade dishes, the various homemade pasta and sauce his wife makes, chicken Marsala, chicken Parmesan, various choices of veal, New York strip steak, filet mignon, stuffed clams, antipasto, steamed clams, U-Peel shrimp, chicken Alfredo, grilled pork chops, lobster and shrimp scampi, surf and turf, veal Marsala, veal piccata, spaghetti with sausage, meatballs or shrimp and penne pasta with meatballs or sausage. All Italian specialties are served with a cup of soup, salad, potato and vegetable. Various desserts are also available. 

Ragnacci certainly aims to please his customers.

It is an inviting atmosphere that includes a small bar area with dining tables. Various drinks, including wine and beer, are served.

Ragnacci’s is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The popular Dunmore establishment is open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. 

Takeouts were available during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic for three months followed by takeouts and outdoor dining until indoor dining was permitted again. “Due to our very loyal customers, we held our own during the worst times of COVID,” said Ragnacci. “We have great customers. We are so appreciative of our customers who were so supportive during a difficult time.”

Ragnacci is the proud father of three grown daughters: Kim Potoroski, 50, Marissa Jenesko, 38, and Gianna Ragnacci, 26.

He and his wife have two grandchildren: Eloise, 7, and Julianne, 5. “They are our pride and joy.”

Ragnacci, hard working with a sense of humor and positive outlook on life, has no plans to leave the business after recently celebrating 40 years of Ragnacci’s Restaurant. “I’m going to keep going. We love seeing the customers come in. We just had a regular customer come in from Binghamton, N.Y. We want to provide quality food to our good customers. And we keep the prices very affordable for them. We try to make it a nice, comfortable atmosphere. I like what I do.” 

Athlete of the Month: Logan Tierney

By Steve Svetovich

Logan Tierney did it all. 

The 6-2, 195-pound junior excelled on both ends of the ball as the Holy Cross Crusaders football team snapped a 13-game losing streak with a 34-28 opening day win over Holy Redeemer Saturday, Aug. 28, at Saint Anthony’s Memorial Park, Dunmore.

Logan dominated the contest at both his tailback and outside linebacker positions.

He rushed for 242 yards on 22 carries while scoring three touchdowns on runs of one, five and 50 yards. His first touchdown came in the second quarter and the final two were in the final quarter. 

From his outside linebacker position, he contributed double-digit tackles to lead the Holy Cross defense.

Holy Cross, two years removed from cancelling the 2019 season because of low participation, ended a 13-game losing streak, posting their first win since Sept. 1, 2018, when the Crusaders beat Montrose, 13-6. 

Holy Cross senior Gavyn Grems added 87 yards rushing on 10 carries, including a 26-yard bolt in the third quarter giving the Crusaders a 21-14 lead. Holy Cross did not look back.

Logan’s one-yard plunge gave Holy Cross a 7-0 lead after the extra point, with 11:24 left in the second quarter. His 50-yard sprint gave the Crusaders a 34-21 lead, with 1:58 left in the game. His six-yard burst for a touchdown came with 5:22 left in the contest.

Son of Tom and Angela Tierney, Logan is a three-year member of the Holy Cross football team. He has been a forward for the past two years on the basketball team. He has a 3.4 academic grade point average. His best subjects are English and history.

Logan said he is learning a lot from new Holy Cross head football coach Joe Giorgio.

“He has a lot of knowledge about the game. He is a very determined and patient coach. He devised a great playbook for us. He goes over all the plays with everyone very patiently.”

Logan said his mom and dad taught him a lot. “They tell me to always act like you have been there before. Be classy and respectful and stay humble. Keep to yourself.”

The junior standout talked about what it takes to be a good tailback in high school football. “You need good field vision. You need to be strong and patient. And you need a good line.”

And to excel as an outside linebacker? “You need a lot of patience and field awareness of your surroundings. You need to be able to follow good instructions and listen to your coaches.”

Logan said his hobbies are sports, lifting, and hanging with friends. He enjoys music and would like to see Travis Scott in concert.

The scholar-athlete said he has aspirations to eventually become a physical therapist. His big dream would be to attend Notre Dame. 

He loves Holy Cross High School. “I absolutely love it here,” he said. “It’s a great school. The teachers are very nice and will do anything to help you. The principal, administration and staff root for you on the football field or in any other sport. There is a lot of school unity.”

He talked about both team and personal goals. “We want to win as many football games as possible and finish with a winning record. We want a positive record. I would like to rush for at least 600 yards and maybe even 1,000 and score at least 10 touchdowns to help us win games. In basketball, we are shooting for another district title and to go as far as possible in states. I also want to make high honors in all four quarters.”

The diminutive and speedy tailback said his performance in helping his team win the first game of the season felt pretty good. “It was an amazing feeling,” he said. “Last season was not the greatest. This first game was high impact. It felt terrific to get this win.”