FRANKLIN TWP. — Harold Hoover had more than just musical talent.
Hoover was a gardener, a family man, a dog lover, an organist and had a knack to break down music and teach it to first through fifth-graders, said Dallas Elementary School Principal Thomas Traver.
“It was remarkable what he was able to get out of the students,” Traver said. “He made it look easy.”
Hoover, an elementary school music teacher at the Dallas School District for 35 years, died on Wednesday, Feb. 14, from Stage Four Metastatic Melanoma at the Celtic Healthcare Hospice Inpatient Unit of Geisinger South, Wilkes-Barre.
He is survived by his wife, Linda Maro Hoover; daughter, Elizabeth A. Hoover; son, Eric M. Hoover; parents, Harold M. and Myrtle A. Pascoe Hoover; sister, Donna Szczucki; nieces, Amanda Schirillo and her husband Tony, Sarah Szczucki and her finacé Matt; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
The cancer diagnosis came in the fall, Linda Hoover said.
“He said he felt tired; that was in September,” she said. “I didn’t think he would go so fast. It is a big loss for the community.”
Dallas Elementary School third-grade teacher Heather Pitcavage agreed and said Hoover’s passing has “left a big hole in this school.”
“He used to park in the same spot,” Pitcavage said, noting she can see the spot from her classroom window. “Now when I see someone parking in that spot, I get upset; in my mind that is still his spot.”
The school community is striving to maintain Hoover’s legacy.
The district’s faculty came together in December to hold the annual Dallas Elementary Holiday Concert, Traver said.
“I never got my mind and act together for Christmas until the holiday concert,” Traver said. “Once I got to the concert and saw what Harold and the students put together, it put me in the holiday mood. Now, Christmas, for me, will never be the same again.
“His concerts and musicals would fill the Dallas Middle School Auditorium,” which was designed to accommodate about 1,300 people, Traver added.
This spring, faculty, along with music substitute teacher Joanne Major, will follow through with Hoover’s plan to present the musical “Return of the Glass Slipper” May 23 at the Dallas Middle School Auditorium, Traver said.
“I think he would be happy to know that we are moving forward with his program,” Traver said.
The district is also working with Hoover’s family to establish a music scholarship for students and possibly completing a charitable act, which may be repairing a pipe organ at the Wyoming United Methodist Church, Traver said.
“We are looking for ways to honor him,” he said.
Dallas Elementary School Art Teacher Ashley Lunger is working with students to create a three-by-six-foot movable piece of art to honor Hoover as well as to provide closure for students.
“The art work in honor of Harold will be a collaborative artwork,” Lunger said in an email. “It is going to be a collage made up of tissue paper ovals, each with a written message from students.”
The ovals, sheets of music notes and a transparent image of Hoover conducting will be combined.
“I wanted to involve the students in the creation of something beautiful which honored Harold’s life and work, but would also be a way of closure for students, a way to say goodbye,” Lunger said.
Not all of the messages will be visible, Lunger added. The symbolism of the transparent image demonstrates the former music teacher’s love of music and how it will live on through his students, she said.
The artwork is expected to be completed by the spring and will be displayed in the hall between the music and art room, Lunger said.
“It will be moveable so that when the new building is built, it can travel over to be near the new music room,” she said.
Hoover began his teaching career at the former Westmoreland Elementary School on Lehigh Street in Shavertown, Traver said.
Pitcavage recalled having him as a music teacher when she was a third or fourth-grader.
“I remember him as clear as day walking into the classroom,” Pitcavage said, adding he had blondish hair. “He had a very distinctive walk.”
One of Hoover’s lessons that stuck in her mind and even worked its way into her classroom was picking out the instruments that represent different animals in “Peter and the Wolf.”
The experience also influenced Pitcavage’s decision to learn to play the flute in high school.
“I picked the flute because I remembered the sweet little bird sound from ‘Peter and the Wolf,’” she said.
Hoover was a very active man, according to his wife.
“He was an organist for Elm Park United Methodist Church and sometimes at Dallas United Methodist Church,” Linda Hoover said. “He enjoyed regular trips to Cape May (New Jersey) and Disney.”
Hoover was also an avid gardener, she said.
“He had many flower beds around our home,” Linda said. “There were always flowers blooming at different times of the year.”
Hoover also had a love of dogs, particularly English Setters, Traver said, noting at one time the couple owned two, named Heidi and Skipper.
“At one point, he had a Bernese Mountain Dog named Stella,” Traver said.
One story that Traver remembers is when Hoover’s daughter Elizabeth wanted a horse and the family acquired one from a neighbor.
“The horse was more spirited than he (Hoover) hoped,” Traver said. “I remember one time he was riding it, and it bucked him off. He broke a vertebra. That horse put him through the ringer.”
Traver, who knew Hoover since 1997, and Pitcavage described the former teacher as being a “true gentleman” and a “family man.”
“He was very meticulous,” Traver said. “I never heard him swear or lose his patience. He never lost his composure.”
Pitcavage recalls many conversations with Hoover about their children.
“We would talk about our children growing up, going to college, trips they were going on,” she said. “We would talk about what local pizza shops we liked.”
Whether he knew it or not, Hoover had an impact on his colleagues and left behind some lasting lessons.
“I learned the importance of taking care of what you have,” Traver said.
Hoover had a keyboard for the classroom that was “at least 15 years old,” Traver said. At the end of every school day, Hoover would wipe down the keyboard and put it into its case, he said.
Also, Hoover was always kind to everyone around him, Traver said.
“Every morning he would walk by my door to say good morning,” Traver said. ”I would go out of my way later in the day to see how his day was going. I’m going to miss him.”
Hoover’s attention to detail left a lasting impression on Lunger.
“I learned from Harold that whatever you do, it deserves to be done right,” Lunger said. “Everything about his concerts and curriculum was done to the highest standard, right down to the last detail.”
“He really was the nicest man,” Pitcavage said. “He was a great role model for adults and children.”
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.