KINGSTON TWP. — The first time former Gary Michak won the Best Attorney of the Back Mountain, he took his children to the Dallas Postaward ceremony, Courtney Michak said.
Michak’s wife Courtney and his paralegal Lauran Hall accepted a special memorial tribute in his name at the annual Best of the Back Mountain event held Oct. 24 at Fire & Ice on Toby Creek in Shavertown.
“We both feel very honored,” Courtney said. “I wish he was here.”
The Best of the Back Mountain is a campaign where Dallas Post and Times Leader readers vote for their favorite businesses, service providers and individuals. The 2017 program honored over 100 businesses, Renee Sager, the director of marketing and administration said.
Michak, whose office is still located at 1846 N. Memorial Hwy. in Shavertown, won the Dallas Post award for nine consecutive years, said Dotty Martin, suburban editor of the Times Leader Media Group.
“I remember the very first year Gary was named Best Attorney of the Back Mountain,” Martin said. “He brought his kids with him because he was so proud of them and he wanted them to celebrate with him.”
Michak, formerly of Harveys Lake, passed away on Sept. 20, 2017, leaving behind his wife Courtney Burgess-Michak, and two children Ariana and Thomas, all of Harveys Lake; his mother, Lillian; sister, Donna and her family; and brother, George and his family.
“Gary’s untimely passing on Sept. 20 devastated not only his family but the entire Back Mountain community,” Martin said. “Gary, with his mega-watt smile, was a longtime partner and friend of the Times Leader and Dallas Post.
“Gary was also known for his career in martial arts,” Martin added. “He was a fierce competitor and became a national champion, earning the rare triple crown designation for being in the top 10 for fighting forms and weapons.”
He was inducted into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame.
Michak had always taken great pride in serving the people of the Back Mountain, Courtney said.
“He loved this event,” she recalled, noting the award comes from the people and community, whom he loved serving.
Hall said a wall in Michak’s office still displays all nine Dallas Post awards.
“Community always meant so much to him,” Hall said.
Nearly 80 people attended the Best of the Back Mountain event, providing a mix of business owners and service providers throughout the Back Mountain.
“The Best of the Back Mountain is a premiere event to celebrate the businesses and people who serve the Back Mountain area,” said Mike Murray, publisher of the Times Leader Media Group.
Several attendees, such as Bullock Tire & Auto Parts, Crabby’s Seafood Grill and Joey’s Landcare, received their first Best of the Back Mountain honor.
Bill Bullock, of Bullock Tire & Auto in Dallas, was surprised when he learned customers voted the family-owned shop Best Tire Store in the Back Mountain.
“I was shocked,” he said. “It just shows that a small business can compete against big chain stores.”
Will Bullock, Bill’s father and founder of the 50-year-old business, said they spend very little on advertising, but they have “a lot of repeat customers.”
Crabby’s Seafood in Dallas Township earned the most votes for Best Burger in the Back Mountain.
Joey Irvin, 18, owner of Joey’s Landcare in Shavertown, received awards for the Best Landscaper Garden Center and Best New Business.
The evening also had many longtime businesses such as Cook’s Pharmacy and Fire & Ice receive multiple awards.
Frank Lombardo, owner of Cook’s in Shavertown, accepted an award for Best Pharmacy while Cook’s pharmacist Jack O’Donnell was named the Back Mountain’s Best Pharmacist.
“It means a lot,” Lombardo said, adding customers recognize his employees’ hard work.
Lombardo’s wife, Michele, operator of the Sandwich Shoppe at Cook’s Pharmacy, earned the title of Best Chef and Sandwich and Sub Shop.
Gary Edwards, a co-owner and chef at Fire & Ice, accepted awards for Best Place for a First Date, Steak, Atmosphere and Wine List.
“It really means the world,” said Edwards.