(The Valley Gazette, April 1978, From the program for the 31st annual St. Patrick's Day Banquet of the Irish-American Association of the Panther Valley held March 17, 1978)
According to the 100th Anniversary booklet of St. Joseph' Church, Summit Hill, which describes the spread of settlers from Old Mines toward what is now Coaldale:
--"Further west in the valley in 1846, six double houses were built in a row just west of the old tunnel. Here dwelt with their families the toilers in the early coal operations, and here were born and lived for a time some few of the later estimable residents of Coaldale. The most trustworthy available accounts accord the honor of being the earliest residents here to Mr. Hoben, Owen Fisher, Christopher Burns and John Scott"
The "Mr. Hoben" mentioned was the great grandfather of tonight's recipient of the prestigious Shamrock Award of the Irish-American Association of Panther Valley, Richard J. Hoben. The roots go deep.
Dick Hoben was born in Coaldale, February 24, 1920, a son of the late William and Mary Hoben. He was educated in St. Mary's school for ten years, and before graduating from Coaldale High School in 1937 he was captain of the gymnastic team, was on the National Honor Society, was editor of the school yearbook and won the Panther Valley Oratorical Contest. He was also a carrier boy and town reporter for the Morning Call of Allentown.
For four years after his graduation, he worked for the Call as a reporter and photographer, starting at $12.50 a week for a seven-day, 90-hour week. Jobs were hard to come by. He enlisted in the Navy in December, 1941, serving as a Yeoman and later a Navy pilot. He also joined a Ready Reserve squadron for the Korean War. His older brother, T/Sgt. Billy Hoben, lost his life in 1943 in a B-17 crash in North Africa.
The recipient was an inquisitive, restless soul during the past forty years, with an overriding faith in the future of his native Panther Valley. His many writings, civic activities and variety of jobs reflected that faith.
Over a period of sixteen years, with interruptions for a wide variety of pursuits, he was editor of the Evening Record of Lansford, where he introduced the popular daily editorial on local subjects. Two of these editorials were placed in the Congressional Record by the late Congressman "Tad" Walter.
A graduate of the American Airlines Pilot School, he unsuccessfully attempted to establish a Tamaqua Municipal Airport in Hometown. With his brother-in-law, Bob Scutta, and Leo Boran of Tuscarora he joined in founding Panther Valley's first and only flying service, towing aerial banners behind a plane they bought for $350. He established the unique Miner's Laundry in the early fifties, to specialize in washing miners' work clothes. All the mines in the Valley shut down ten months later.
He was associated with his brother-in-law in a coal operation for three years, owned half of a bootleg mine for a short time, was half-owner of the Walton Sign Company, picked up some loose change by doing a daily radio broadcast and announcing high school football games, and still found time to spend many happy summers at his little cabin on the north shore of Hauto Dam.
As public relations director for Pencor Services, he has much to do with the firm's major changeover to offset printing when it began acquiring local newspapers, and with locating today's Times-News in the former Classic Theatre in Lehighton. He wrote Lehighton's Centennial Book in 1966 and Lansford's Centennial Book in 1976. He wrote, directed and narrated a 16 mm. full color documentary film, “New Horizons for Carbon County." He is a lector at St. Ann's Church, Lansford.
Dick was a charter member and past president of the Coaldale Lions Club, charter member and past president of the Carbon County Tourist Promotion Agency and Past Exalted Ruler of the Lansford Elks. He is a member of the Coaldale American Legion Post and Lansford Amvets, and the Rod and Gun clubs of Coaldale and Summit Hill.
Our recipient is in his tenth year as executive secretary of the Carbon-Schuylkill Industrial Development Corp. His unstinting efforts to bring in new industries and create new jobs for the people of Panther Valley are widely known.
He was married in 1948 to Beatrice Boyle of Lansford, who passed away five years ago this month. His wife, Margie, and his son, Rick, join with his sisters and step-children tonight in congratulating the 1978 recipient of our Shamrock Award.