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Historical markers planned for Anna T. Jeanes, Tom Gola


Tom Gola

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission has approved 18 Pennsylvania Historical Markers, including ones for Anna T. Jeanes and Tom Gola.

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The markers were selected from 55 applications. They will be added to the nearly 2,300 familiar blue-with-gold-lettering signs along roads and streets throughout Pennsylvania.

Jeanes (1822–1907) was a Quaker abolitionist and activist who made plans for her substantial fortune to further several causes upon her death. Her contributions enabled the establishment of Jeanes Hospital, dedicated to cancer research, and the Jeanes Supervisors program, the precursor to the Negro Rural School Fund, which educated many black teachers and students across the southern states.

Gola (1933–2014) grew up near 3rd Street and Lindley Avenue in Olney. He starred for the Incarnation of Our Lord CYO basketball team, then went on to La Salle High School, back when it was located in the city.

In his junior year at La Salle High, his team won the city championship by beating Overbrook.

Next, he went on to play at La Salle College, where he was a three-time All-American. In 1952, the 6-foot-6 guard/forward was the Co-Most Valuable Player as the Explorers defeated Dayton to win the NIT, which at the time was the big postseason college basketball tournament.

In 1954, he was named Outstanding Player as La Salle defeated Bradley for the NCAA title.

In his college career, he averaged 20.9 points and 18.7 rebounds per game. He holds the NCAA record for most rebounds with 2,201.

After his college days, he played in the NBA. As a rookie in 1956, he won a championship with the old Philadelphia Warriors. He played in five all-star games in a 10-year career before retiring at age 33 in 1966 as a member of the New York Knicks.

Later in 1966, he was elected as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. A Republican, he lived on Rennard Street in Somerton at the time. He was re-elected in 1968.

While serving as a state representative, he coached La Salle for two seasons. His 1969 team was 23-1 and ranked second in the nation behind powerful UCLA. The Explorers, though, were ineligible for postseason play because of rules violations committed before Gola arrived as coach.

In 1969, Gola, who studied accounting in college, ran for city controller and easily defeated Democratic lawyer Charles Peruto.

In 1973, Gola lost a re-election bid to Democrat Bill Klenk.

In 1980, Gola was active in Ronald Reagan’s successful presidential campaign. After Reagan took office, he named Gola as a regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Gola ran in the 1983 Republican primary for mayor, but finished third behind winner John Egan and runner-up Charlie Dougherty.

Gola is in numerous Halls of Fame: Northeast Philadelphia; the Naismith National Basketball; Archdiocese CYO; Polish; Madison Square Garden; Philadelphia Sports; and Big Five. He was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Atlantic 10 Conference Men’s Basketball Legends.

La Salle named its gymnasium the Tom Gola Arena in 1998. His No. 15 jersey hangs from the rafters.

After the end of his political career, he became a successful businessman. He was executive vice president of Valley Forge Investment Corp. and on the board of Third Federal Bank. He and his wife, Caroline, lived on Kings Oak Road in Pine Valley at the time of his death.

Nominations for historical markers may be submitted by any individual or organization and are evaluated by a panel of independent experts from throughout the state and approved by the agency’s commissioners.

More information on the historical marker program, including application information, is available at PAHistoricalMarkers.com ••

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