PENN RUN — There was the time, maybe 25 years ago, when Ed Yasick showed up for a Monday morning business trip wearing a hairpiece, to the surprise of co-workers set to travel with him.
Pressroom manager Joe Naman, his colleague for some 40 years at The Indiana Gazette, grinned Thursday when he remembered the episode.
“We just looked at him!” Naman remembered. “It took us by surprise! The next morning, we met in the hotel lobby and Ed wasn’t down yet. I said, ‘I guess he never had to fix his hair before!’”
Colleagues remembered getting a smile from being with Ed Yasick — who died Wednesday at his home near Penn Run — but they recalled a lot, too, about the versatility and expertise of the man who retired in 2011 as the head of maintenance at the Gazette.
There were memories of more than just his look, more than the stocky build and muscular arms that he used to seemingly do absolutely anything and everything.
“There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. Carpentry, masonry, plumbing,” Naman said.
Especially the electronic and technical skills that he fostered during service in the Navy.
“He shepherded the move to computers at the Gazette,” said General Manager Joe Geary. “He came here while we still were in our old building and was here from the days of hot type to digital plate making.”
Yasick joined Indiana Printing & Publishing in February 1970 as an electronic technician and later became manager of computer systems for the company.
“He took this place a long, long way,” Geary said.
Technology rapidly advanced the past couple of decades, but it seemed like time stood still for Yasick. With every new development in technology, Yasick immediately made it an area of expertise.
Having what seemed like a steel trap for a memory helped, said Mike Donnelly, the president and publisher of Indiana Printing & Publishing.
“I don’t think Ed ever forgot anything he ever read or heard,” Donnelly recalled today. “Ed could recite details about every piece of equipment that had been in the building for decades.”
Co-workers said Yasick always was there to help them learn and understand the changes taking place around them, not only as fellow company people but as friends. Gazette managers and colleagues considered him family.
“Saint Ed,” they called him, Donnelly said. “Ed did everything with a smile on his face and with warmth in his heart,” Donnelly said.
“You could count on Ed for anything,” said Donna Rethi, who retired in June as the company’s production manager. “He was a great mentor. I learned so much from him and he was one of my best friends, too.”
For some, Yasick’s even disposition stood out.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him mad, as long as I knew him,” Geary said. “I don’t know if he just didn’t have that in him. He just never showed that.”
Colleagues said the state of the Gazette printing plant on Water Street was a testimonial to Yasick’s diligence and care.
So is the system layout of the Gazette Printers commercial printing plant along Indian Springs Road in White Township.
“He mapped out that building, too. And the company’s rental properties. He was the go-to guy for everything,” Rethi said.
“Any maintenance, any renovations, anything that went on, it went through his hands before anybody had to think about it.”
In the three years since he retired, Yasick kept busy with his hands, tinkering in the garage, fixing cars and equipment, taking care of things for his family and neighbors.
In retirement, Yasick and his wife, Mary, spent more time biking on the Ghost Town Trail near their home, Donnelly said.
Naman recalled Yasick’s love of hunting and gardening at home, too.
And Ed enjoyed an occasional game of chance, Rethi said.
There was the company trip to California in February 1989 that included Rethi and Yasick, who suggested a drive over to Reno, Nev., during some down time on the trip.
Leaving the moderate Southern California weather, they hit some snow. A lot of snow, Rethi said, and Yasick confidently continued to drive.
“The signs said we may need chains on the tires, I told Ed,” Rethi said. “He said, ‘Aw, that’s nothing, that’s nothing,’ and kept driving.”
After they made it to the casinos, Rethi said, “Eddie said ‘I was a nervous wreck the whole way across the mountain!’
“He was very determined to get there, just as determined as he was to get things done at the paper. He was just a great, great man,” she said.
Funeral arrangements for Yasick are being handled by the Moriconi Funeral Home in Northern Cambria.