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Heritage center launches educational, outreach effort in honor of board member
Family, friends and colleagues of Matthew Bauman, a McKeesport Area High School teacher who died in October 2020, gathered this week at McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center as an educational program was launched in his memory. (Tube City Almanac photo)
A new educational series about local history has been created in memory of a beloved McKeesport Area High School teacher who died in October 2020 of cancer.
Family, friends and colleagues of Matthew Bauman gathered Wednesday evening at McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center to share stories and discuss his legacy.
An 11th and 12th-grade history teacher, Bauman, 38, of Port Vue had served as vice president of the center’s board of directors before his untimely passing. But Bauman’s connection to the center, and McKeesport’s history, was much deeper than his title implied, said Marianne Macbeth, president of the center’s board.
A tablet near the Heritage Center’s front door bears a photo of Bauman and his children, Jack and Theo. (Tube City Almanac photo)
“He came here as an intern,” she said. “He loved it enough to become a member of the Heritage Center, after which he was elected to the board of directors.”
Bauman “never said ‘no,’” Macbeth said. “He did whatever needed to be done. You need the weeds whacked? You need the snow shoveled? Matt would do it.”
Only two groups took priority over the center’s needs, she said — his family and his students. Even then, Bauman found ways to combine his loves, encouraging his family members to volunteer at the center, and bringing his students to the Heritage Center to learn about Pennsylvania history first-hand.
“They walked among McKeesport’s past and touched the artifacts,” Macbeth remembered, adding that Bauman even gave extra-credit points to students who attended center events.
“Matt united us. He brought us together. He made us stronger and better,’” said his father, Tom Bauman. (Tube City Almanac photo)
The new Matthew T. Bauman Student Outreach and Educational Program will help continue that legacy, said Dave Moore, museum manager for the heritage center.
Moore said he and Bauman first discussed creating an educational program in 2019 and worked on it until Bauman was no longer able.
Two of the programs — one on Pennsylvania inventors and inventions, another on the French & Indian War — were created with Bauman’s input and blessing, Moore said.
Bauman’s father, Tom, said the educational program “means the world to us, because the center meant the world to Matt. He loved this place and put his energy into this place.”
More than 50 people attended Wednesday’s event, which also included the dedication of a stone tablet engraved with Bauman’s name and a photo of Bauman with his children, Jack and Theo; as well as a summer lilac, or “butterfly bush,” planted near the center’s front door.
The crowd observed a minute of silence in memory of Bauman, who in addition to his parents and two brothers, left behind his wife, Samantha, and their children.
“We know that Matt is looking down on us and that his heart is filled with love, and pride, too,” Tom Bauman said. “Matt united us. He brought us together. He made us stronger and better. We’re extremely grateful to have had Matt in our lives. We all miss him — and sometimes that hurt is beyond description. But that’s softened somewhat by the caring and the comfort and the love we’ve received.”
Teresa Trich, the heritage center’s development director, said donations made in Bauman’s memory have been set aside to help defray the cost of student transportation and other expenses related to the educational program. Additional donations and corporate sponsorship will be needed, she said.
Individuals or businesses interested in contributing toward the program may call (412) 678-1832 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Togyer is volunteer editor of Tube City Almanac. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published May 28, 2021.