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WWII Veteran Co-Founded Fire Department

WWII Veteran Co-Founded Fire Department

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The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via YellowBrix

March 30, 2010

MONROEVILLE, PA – Monroeville was just beginning to grow into a bustling suburb and commercial district in July 1949 when Raymond J. Genley led a meeting to start a new fire department there.

The new William Penn Highway was about to be lined with the Miracle Mile and other shopping centers. Mr. Genley and 17 neighbors from the Mellon Plan neighborhood founded the Monroeville No. 3 Fire Department, and he was its first president and third chief.

Raymond J. Genley, 89, of Monroeville, also a World War II veteran and a retired floor finisher, died Friday, March 26, 2010.

Joe Hyzy, the Monroeville No. 3 fire chief and a lifelong friend, said Mr. Genley and his counterparts realized that the community’s other fire stations were too far away to provide good service as the number of houses and businesses multiplied.

“The roads weren’t like they are today. It would take a half hour to get to the Mellon Plan from the other side of Route 22,” Hyzy said.

Mr. Genley lived most of his life in the neighborhood. He was born Raymond Yanalivich and graduated in 1937 from Union High School in Turtle Creek.

During World War II, he drove tractor-trailers filled with Army equipment and took part in the Battle of Normandy at Utah Beach. In 1946, he married Albina “Beanie” Czapor, who lived on the next street.

After working for a short time at Westinghouse Air Brake Co. he decided to go into business for himself, sanding and refinishing floors and working on new homes in the booming, post-war era.

He got court approval in 1951 to change his name to Genley. “He wanted to make it easier, for business purposes,” said his niece, Darlene Beatty of Harrison City, Westmoreland County.

The new name had no special significance for the couple. “They just liked the sound of it,” Beatty said. “It sounds like a gentle person, and he was, although he could come off as a little gruff sometimes.”

Mr. Genley’s work was hard, and could be dangerous, his niece said. Twice, he suffered serious burns when a spark at a job site ignited the flammable materials he worked with.

At Monroeville No. 3, he and the other founders bought a 1929 pumper from another department for $20 and refurbished it. The fire station was built on Third Street, close to Mr. Genley’s house.

“Since he was the chief, he had an alarm in his house,” recalled Beatty, who stayed with her uncle and aunt often when she was a child. The Genleys had no children.

Mr. Genley loved music and had more than 1,000 vinyl albums — from Big Band to polka and country, but he especially loved Strauss waltzes, Beatty said. The couple belonged to a club that sent recorded messages, instead of letters to each other, and they volunteered with Meals on Wheels.

Mr. Genley was preceded in death by his wife, Albina “Beanie” Genley, who died in 1992, and siblings Anthony Yanalivich and Genevieve Silveroli. Surviving are several nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 1 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. today in the Alfieri Funeral Home Inc., 201 Marguerite Ave., Wilmerding.

A service will be held at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday in the funeral home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Jude the Apostle Church, Wilmerding. Full military honors will follow in Good Shepherd Cemetery, Monroeville.