Longtime BP councilman’s legacy, impact continue
John Pape’s legacy, impact continue in BP
When Joe Consolmagno was selected to fill the vacancy of the Bethel Park council in October, it wasn’t without the members who voted on it thinking about who he was replacing. The question council asked itself, ‘what would John do?’
Consolmagno, who was selected among eight applicants to serve until the 2017 general election, was responsible of filling the void of a person that couldn’t be replaced.
The seat was held by John Pape for more than 40 years.
Pape, who died Sept. 8 at age 89, was not only the face of Ward 1, but considered the go-to person for solving problems throughout the entire municipality.
“One of his nicknames was ‘Governor’ because he had so many connections,” said Ward 6 representative Mark O’Brien. “He was a very unique character who deeply cared about Bethel Park. He never ever said quit or didn’t think there was a way for getting something done. No matter what the problem or issue, John knew somebody that could help us.”
While problem-solving was a forte of Pape, the combat veteran of World War II also fought for the people – both inside and outside his ward – of Bethel Park.
“It may not have been in his ward but it was still his problem,” Councilman Tim Moury said about Pape. “He wasn’t about the publicity but trying to come up with a resolution to help. He was such a resource for his time, whether that is by knowing everything that happened or sharing with council as to how things came to be what they are today.”
From sharing stories of Pape’s quick resolutions to municipal issues to him diligently working on the veteran’s war memorial, the council became used to Pape not making many meetings because of illness.
Failing to see his “John Pape” in front of his seat on his nameplate is something O’Brien and the rest of council still grieve over.
“I became really close to John over the past several years,” O’Brien said about his relationship built with Pape on the Bethel Park council.
Pape grew up with O’Brien’s father in Mt. Washington.
“I still catch myself thinking about something and going to his name on my phone to call him,” O’Brien said. “It will probably always be there.”
As for Consolmagno, it’s not about replacing but more about honoring who sat in his spot prior.
“I’ll never be able to fill his shoes,” Consolmagno said. “John was here for many years but just being able to act upon the residents and being a part of his legacy is something I don’t want to drop the ball on.”