Icon in Back Mountain Boy Scouts mourned

Bob Kalinowski, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
·2 min read

Feb. 26—Back Mountain residents are mourning the loss of a woman who was a legendary leader in the Boys Scouts for more than 50 years.

Nancy McDonald died Feb. 19 at age 86.

McDonald was the longtime commissioner of Boy Scouts Troop 281 and Cub Scouts Pack 281 in Dallas, serving as the top liaison between the groups and the organization's Northeastern Pennsylvania Council.

"She was a big deal in local Scouting," said Forty Fort-based attorney Ron Santora, a former pack leader and scoutmaster in Dallas. "Mrs. McDonald left her mark on countless lives."

Santora's two sons earned Eagle Scout honors and he credits McDonald for guiding them to the accomplishment.

"When we got word the other day she passed away, we reached out to our two boys. We were talking about how different our lives would be if we never met Mrs. McDonald. We were blown away by the impact she has had on our lives," Santora said.

Santora said McDonald turned his family on to scouting many years ago after speaking one day at their church in Shavertown.

"She literally told me one day I was going to participate in Scouting. I showed up at a meeting not thinking anything. The next thing I knew I was a Scouts leader. For the next 15 to 17 years, Scouting was every day of my life," Santora said. "I fell in love with the program."

Mark Chappell, 48, the current scoutmaster for Troop 281, said he's known McDonald since joining the Boys Scouts when he was 8 years old.

"She was a staple in the Back Mountain Scouts forever. She lived the Scouts. There's a lot of people she touched and helped through her 50 years in the Scouts," Chappell said.

Dr. Richard Oley, a well-known Scouts leader in the Back Mountain, posted a tribute to McDonald on Facebook.

"Nancy was absolutely dedicated to her Scouts and was an inexhaustible resource for the leaders she recruited and mentored. Practically every current Cub Scout or Boy Scout leader in Pack and Troop 281 can credit Nancy with bringing them aboard and setting their Scouting journey in motion," Oley wrote. "... While she will be dearly missed, her legacy lives on in those of us she entrusted to carry the flame forward."

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570-821-2055; @cvbobkal