James J. McCusker Jr., Union Dale, age 73, passed on Sunday, October 4, 2020, at his home with his wife, Maryann Verboys Durko McCusker, at his bedside, after multi-years of illness. He had been lovingly cared for at home for the past years by his wife during several major bouts of illness.
He was the son of the late James B. and Helen Slamas McCusker and was born in Carbondale May 9, 1947. His mother passed away in 2009 and his father passed in 2011. He and his wife were married June 3, 2000.
He was a tireless volunteer for the Forest City Area and always went out of his way to help people in need.
His entire life revolved around the Forest City Fire Dept. and the Forest City Area Ambulance Association. He followed in the footsteps of his father, first joining the Hillside Fire Dept. in 1963, with the company later merging in May 1965 with the Enterprise Hose Company to form Forest City Fire Dept.. He helped spearhead the effort in 2010 to consolidate the Fire Company and Ambulance Association to form Forest City Area Emergency Services. He served in a number of offices with the Fire Company, including secretary and assistant fire chief, and Ambulance Association over the years.
In 1970 he joined with a large group of Forest City area citizen volunteers to found and organize the Tri-County Ambulance Association, later to become Forest City Area Ambulance Association. This included fundraising to purchase the first ambulance vehicle.
He was one of the first EMTs (emergency medical technicians) to be trained to serve on the ambulance, and took continued training in following years as regulations continued to be implemented for EMTs. For many years he was captain and also served as treasurer of the Ambulance Association. He also worked with Cottage Hose Co. ambulance, Carbondale.
He was past president of Northeastern Pennsylvania Volunteer Ambulance Federation. On the Northeastern Pennsylvania Volunteer Firemen’s Federation he was past president, treasurer, executive committee, fire training director, chief and various other committees.
On the Firemen’s Association of the State of Pennsylvania he was past president, executive committee, representative to the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council, Northeast Director, Eastern vice president, senior vice president, executive planning committee, emergency medical services committee chairman and various other committees.
He attended the Congressional Fire Services Institute Conferences and dinners in Washington, D.C. the International Association of Fire Services Instructors conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana, the Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner’s Conferences in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute conferences in Harrisburg. He was Tail Twister for the Ancient Antediluvian and Honorable Order of Goosenecks.
He was awarded a plaque for his 50 years of service to the Forest City Fire Dept., Ambulance Service and Forest City Emergency Services but was unable to attend due to his illness.
Many people in the community over the years have told the family he was a familiar and very calming face when he arrived on the ambulance to take them or a family member to the hospital. He served many years as an as EMT and officer of the Ambulance Association, ending his service only when health issues prevented him.
He was a graduate of Lackawanna College and became a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, first working in the Philadelphia area and then for many years in the Carbondale Post Office, mostly in Simpson. His family was also often told how his friendly manner was so much appreciated by those on his mail route, especially senior citizens. He retired from the Postal Service and then served as a school bus driver in Forest City Regional School District until he retired as driver in 2014.
He was a member of the Million Mile Club after being accident-free with the U.S. Postal Service.
His best friend over the years was fellow mail carrier, Bob Duffy, Browndale, now retired, who was a steadfast helper for he and Maryann during their friendship and especially during his many illnesses.
He was also a man of faith, serving for a time as Eucharistic Minister in St. Agnes Church, and then a member of Ascension Parish. He was a member of the Forest City Council #3506 Knights of Columbus and is a 4th degree Knight of Columbus and a former member of Knights of Lithuania.
He was an Old Home Week volunteer for many years, namely the voice of the annual Old Home Week parade. He was the former Emergency Management Coordinator for the Steamtown Marathon which starts in Forest City every year. He is a retired Sergeant with the Forest City Police Dept. having served for over 24 years, and was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 63. In later years he served as a supervisor and also Emergency Management Manager of Herrick Township.
Survivors in addition to his wife, are a sister, Carole H. Kameen, Forest City, as well as nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank Home Health Care Professionals and Hospice, Dr. Heim and staff and Dr. Bekele, and especially his caregivers, Dave, Nikkie and Ryan.
In order to comply with COVID attendance rules, the funeral is scheduled for a private viewing of family at the funeral home on Wednesday, Oct. 7, from 4pm to 8pm, with a public viewing Thursday at the church, from 9:30 to 11am, prior to an 11 am Mass in Ascension Parish, St. Joseph’s Church, Delaware St. Forest City. Interment, Union Dale Cemetery. Arrangements by the Jones & Brennan Funeral Home, 430 Main St., Forest City.
The family asks that donations be made to Pleasant Mount Emergency Services, Forest City Area Emergency Services, or Union Dale Fire Company.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James J. McCusker, Jr., please visit our floral store.
Forest City Emergency Services
380 Railroad Street, Forest City PA 18421
Pleasant Mount Emergency Services
161 Great Bend Turnpike, Pleasant Mount PA 18453
Union Dale Fire Company
PO BOX 191, Union Dale PA 18470