Hall of Fame
People, Places and Things That Made Westmoreland County
Content updated monthly. Check back to see more famous faces and places!
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9/30/1935 (Avonmore, PA) - 4/3/2021 (Pittsburgh, PA)
At 17, Jill Corey became the youngest performer ever at the Copacabana nightclub. She worked on television with Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and had her own radio and television shows.
Jill Corey was married to Pittsburgh Pirates third basemen, Don Hoak.
Photo Credit: CBS Television
Shirley Mae Jones
Born 3/31/1934 (Charleroi, PA)
Shirley Jones grew up in Smithton. In the 1950's and 1960's Shirley Jones performed on stage for Rodgers and Hammerstein. In 1970 Jones auditioned for the Partridge Family. This role skyrocketed her to fame. During its first season The Partridge Family was screened in over seventy countries.
Photo Credit: American Broadcasting Company
4/16/1919 (Derry, PA) – 2/23/2000 (McLean, VA)
"Houston, we have a problem" On the receiving end of that statement was Latrobe High school graduate Chester Lee. After a 27 year Naval career, Chester Lee was the mission director on the NASA teams to the final 6 Apollo moon missions.
Lee received three Distinguished Service Medals, two exceptional Service Medals, an outstanding leadership medal, and the Naval Academy's Distinguished Graduate Award.
Photo Credit: NASA
Born 1/22/1980 (Murrysville, PA)
In 2017 Steve Mears was named the play-by-play television announcer on AT&T SportsNet for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Starting as the Bowling Green State University Falcon's announcer, Mears was the voice of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, the New York Islanders and host of NHL Now. Steve Mears was named the Central Hockey League Broadcaster of the Year in 2005.
Photo Credit: KM Poll
"Westmoreland Homesteads" was founded in 1934 and renamed in 1937 to honor Eleanor Roosevelt. During the Great Depression the federal government designed Norvelt as a model community and was built to increase the standard of living of laid-off coal miners.
254 families received homes that consisted of a 1.5 story cape Cod home. They were available in 4-6 room models. The homes included a living room, bedroom, bathroom, utility room and eat in kitchen. these homes sold for $2,131.28 this was 1/4 of the purchasers income of $850. Over 1,850 families applied for the government properties.
In addition to the homes the community included a cooperative farm, a schoolhouse, playground, and post office,
Today Norvelt has a population of almost 900.
Photo Credit: Arthur Rothstein-Farm Security Administration
In 1895, Apollo Iron and Steel Vandergrift designed a model industrial town Vandergrift (Named for Capt. J.J. Vandergrift, a director of the steel company). The Olmsted firm designed the new community that was to provide for the needs of the company workers. This kind of town was referred to as a company town. Company towns were common to industries such as coal, metal mines and lumber. By the 1920's company towns started their decline due to better wages and the accessibility to automobiles allowed workers to seek jobs outside of their communities.
Today Vandergrift is hosting a small business comeback with breweries, coffee shops and boutiques.
Photo Credit: Nyttend