Homage to Duquesne High School Sports!

In 2007, a dramatic decision was made regarding Duquesne High School. After much debate and consideration it was decided that Duquesne’s Schools would no longer include high school level grades. The following article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette –

Duquesne High School Will Be Shut Down

DUQUESNE, Pa. — For the first time in Pennsylvania history, the state secretary of education is recommending that a high school be shut down — and a state-run control board has agreed.

Despite emotional pleas from parents and residents on Tuesday night, the board of control that governs the Duquesne City School District voted to close Duquesne High School at the end of the current school year.

The board said students would be better off in other school districts because Duquesne High has no advanced placement classes, no extracurricular activities, no music or band, poor test scores and mounting financial problems.

Now, the state Legislature must pass a bill to determine which neighboring school districts Duquesne High School students will attend.

Neighbors who spoke at the Tuesday night meeting wanted Duquesne High to stay open, saying more students would drop out if they don’t have their own high school to attend.

The school board said it will have a plan by the end of June to determine where the high school students will attend classes in the fall.

A devoted fan of the Duquesne High School sports teams, Ms. Rosemary Denne, has followed and cheered for Duquesne High School for over 70 years! A few months ago, Ms. Denne sent in some information about herself:

Rosemary Denne

Maiden Name = Curran, my dad was a Dentist here

Years in Duquesne = I have lived here since 1936 and still do

Comments = I am so excited about this [blog].  I am the city Treasurer and Tax Collector for the City of Duquesne and use my computer here at city hall.  I am very busy now, since the Real Estate taxes have just gone out, but I want to keep getting these pictures and comments.  I don’t know whether anybody still remembers me, as I am 83 years old.

Ms. Denne has graciously allowed me to post the article that she wrote that was published in the local newspapers:

FAREWELL TO DUQUESNE HIGH SPORTS

Farewell faithful followers of the red and white! From John Donelli to Pat Monroe, from Bill Lemmer to Montel Staples, from Alex Medich and the hundreds in between, to Elijah Fields, the Dunn brothers and all of the Washingtons, I have been here cheering you on and I have loved every minute of it.

Because you did your best for Duquesne High, I have stood a little bit taller all of my life as I have stood right there beside you.

My dad played football and baseball in 1916 and 1917. Among our most treasured family heirlooms are team photos of my father and his teammates on the front steps of our alma mater. The 1917 team finished their season without a coach since Vance Allshouse (a Duquesne dentist) was called away to World War I in midseason.

From 1936 to the present, I have been there. When I was a child, we didn’t have an automobile, but my father, my brothers and I walked to every home game. We took the streetcar and walked up Cardiac Hill in Oakland for playoff basketball games. Powerful, positive memories of those bygone days and those of the ’90s and 2005 don’t fade with the passage of the decades. I am grateful!’ Following Duquesne athletic teams was our main form of entertainment.

After I got married, I turned my husband into a Duquesne fan and he was one of the most faithful and loyal of them all. Our marriage was strengthened through our mutual devotion to “our Dukes.” Our oldest child played football under the firm direction of Mike Kopolovich, who was instrumental in securing a. fine football scholarship for him. One of our daughters played basketball and two others were cheerleaders. Our grandson scored the first three points in our beautiful new gym and another grandson received the John Phillip Sousa Award for his talents in the band. We worked in the refreshment stand, arranged fan buses and helped organize banquets.

During the past 20 years, if anything, our support for Duquesne athletes only became more important to us. The dedicated coaches, as well, as the cheerleaders and athletes, treated us like family When my husband’s health started to fail, Montel Staples made sure that we could ride on the cheerleader or team bus to playoff games. I am convinced that my husband lived longer because of his anticipation of the 2002 playoff run. On some of those days, when his heart was so weak that he slept for 16 hours a day, his first waking words were, invariably, “What about the Dukes? Call Montel.”

Since my husband died five years ago, Duquesne coaches and fans have made sure that my life’s best form of entertainment has continued. I am so grateful! My grandson holds the record for the most three-pointers scored in any game by a DHS player.

As of the last home basketball game, I was still selling 50/50 tickets and I really enjoyed it. I will miss all of the good friends I have made and love. I will miss the thrill of winning and the painful important lessons of losing. We won so many more times than we lost. Between 1941 and 2005, I attended seven state championship games with my Dukes.

During the last 40 years and particularly during the last 20 (since our steel mill closed), we reveled in the role of underdogs, consistently finding ways to demonstrate excellence while competing against bigger, stronger, and much larger (in population) opponents. We were survivors! We were champions! We consistently overcame the odds. With the deck stacked against us, we. never blinked. What a glorious ride!

I went from a little girl fan to a surrogate grandmother. I worked hard to support the athletes through the years. But they gave me so much more than I gave them. We are told to “Bloom where you are planted.” I was planted in Duquesne arid I thank God for the opportunities provided to me as a DHS fan over the past decades.

I will remain a high school sports fan, but the thrill will be gone forever. I’ll never again holler “Let’s go Dukes.” Thanks for the memories and may the Lord go with all of you.

Rosemary Denne is the current City
Treasurer of Duquesne and longtime
Duquesne High School fan.

This entry was posted in Duquesne Public Schools, Duquesne's Special Citizens, Feedback From Our Friends, Sports. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Homage to Duquesne High School Sports!

  1. Ken Denne says:

    Dear Rosemary,
    Sorry that I didn.t get to your letter until now. What a beautiful and heartwarming review of our great sports town. I am proud to say that you are my cousin through marriage.
    Ken Denne

  2. mike sobeck says:

    To Rosemarie Denne, My name is Mike Sobeck and I would like to know about your brother Larry I asked a long time ago but no reply

  3. Laurine E. says:

    I graduated in 1970 with Tom. I’ve run into him and MaryJane at St. Joseph’s a number of times the last couple of years when they were home for Christmas. I also remember you and your husband as sort of “parents” to all the kids who were friends of your kids.

  4. Tom Lane says:

    I often used the story of Duquesne and USSteel in my work over the years. I consulted on Kaizen (the underlying method and thinking that Toyota and most of the world class manufacturers use) in cities all over the ‘rust belt’. This was 30 years ago and I would point out how there is also a responsibility to the community they live in and would reference what happened to Duquesne when the mill shut down. Not sure how many managers and union folks took that to heart, but I saw so many industries dying out there and people simply thinking that “it won’t happen here”. Who would have ever thought that those enormous mills would be gone.
    When I had my summer job there, I saw the inefficiencies all over the place, but as a dumb kid, I did not know any better. Who knew that years of that mismanagement would finally kill that golden goose.

  5. Lou Andriko says:

    The beginning of the end is in sight: this is from WPXI Channel 11 News March 22nd 2011.

    “The Duquesne City School District is facing a deficit of more than $5.6 million for the next school year. Administrators outlined the district’s ongoing financial challenges at Tuesday’s school board meeting. They pointed out that Gov. Corbett’s budget plan calls for the elimination of a $2 million subsidy to the district. A “Bare Bones” budget proposal was unveiled which, even if implemented, would leave the district more than $2.8 million dollars in the red. The proposal includes cutting 35 jobs, freezing salaries, and eliminating all sports, extra curricular activities and field trips. “Bare Bones really doesn’t include any level of quality. Certainly the children of Duquesne deserve much more than that,” said Dr. Linda Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. According to Hippert, the district plans to work with the state Department of Education and community leaders to address the crisis.”

    The jobs left, the workers left; Social Security, Medicare, SSI & Medicaid recipients are left holding the bag. How sad.

    • Jim says:

      Lou, one wonders how our beloved city will ever survive. Its legacy deserves better than this. I am sure that this situation further exacerbates the heartache corrent and former residents feel. In the midst of crisis, remembering how Duquesne shaped our lives and how it much we all enjoyed and appreciated it, perhaps eases that heartache just a bit. If we cannot financially help Duquesne weather this current storm, then collectively, perhaps the power of our prayers will help. One can only hope.

  6. Michael Sobeck says:

    I sure would like to find out about her brother LARRY, we all loafed at the Dairy Store [Johnney’s] Skits, Gus Billy, Jack, Weeds, and do remember the big snow, we lived on Zewe Way, were Doc, and Carol lived, And I loved her Dad, he was a great guy him and his mail pouch, also Dave Maurer, was around, if she could email me I would like that. Mike – Mike123331@yahoo.com

    • Ken Denne says:

      Mike,
      Larry Curran lives in Boston. I had his mail but it changed. You could get him on Classmates.com.
      How;s your sister , Veronica ??
      Ken Denne

  7. Elaine Wilcox- Micklo says:

    Mrs Denne What a wonderful letter filled with such great memories and warm feelings of our Duquesne High School. I went to Duquesne High, my best years growing up were in Duquesne. My grandfather Vincent Simon and my mother Susan maiden name Simon all graduated from Duquesne High School. As did my husband Ray and his family. We all have memories to last a life time. I wouldn’t trade those for anything. I love seeing the pictures and reading these wonderful stories about Duquesne . I will be passing the history of Duquesne down to my children and grandchildren. Mrs Denne who could ever forget you or your husband. You both were always genuine, warm and kind to everyone. I do believe that you guys are the heart of Duquesne.

  8. Gene (Geno) Sabolcik says:

    Wow!! That’s a great letter Mrs Denne. It pretty much sums up the feelings a lot of people had about Duquesne High sports. God Bless You and Stay Well.

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