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Gone from our sight, but never our hearts

A true friend, citizen and loved one has gone from our midst.
Long-time and well-known and respected sports editor and writer Herb Werner passed away this week.
Werner began a long career in the media as the Sports Editor of the Daily Herald from 1947-1958. From then on, Herb worked for the rival Altoona Mirror, but never viewed anybody or anything as an enemy. He was always gracious and courteous to all, no matter who you were or what you needed. Herb knew many of the giants of local and Pennsylvania sports, on a first-name basis, from Joe Paterno who called him the day before Werner passed away, to the less well-known, including equally important colleagues who would meet to exchange ideas and stories. Paterno credited Werner with establishing a grass roots interest in Penn State football, when the program and Paterno were just beginning to get rolling.
“When I started, there were just the two of us in the Mirror sports staff,” explained long-time co-worker and friend Jim Lane, who actually had Werner as his boss when he first started at the Mirror. “We covered the eight high schools in Blair County then. Herb was a big follower of Penn State football and high school wrestling-those were his two babies. He was one of the best bowlers in the area and later also took up golf and was on the board at Sinking Valley.
“Herb was a real good friend for many, many years, and I miss him.”
He pioneered area newspaper coverage of bowling and contributed greatly to the golfing community. Herb was a board member of the Sinking Valley Country Club, along with local sports enthusiast Harry Sickler, who was a fast friend. Sickler, a local businessman, is the owner of the Bull Pen Restaurant and helped launch the Bull Pen Open Golf Tournament and the Tyrone Monogram Club. Both men shared a passion for the Tyrone community.
“If you knew Herb, you always had to admire him, because you knew what he stood for,” Sickler commented. “We played ball against each other, I have known him since he first came to Tyrone in 1948. You always enjoyed Herb because he was such a competitor. We were close friends. I would always take Herb once a year to South Bend for a Notre Dame football game.”
Werner was a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. Herb loved bowling and probably did more than any other person locally to promote the sport.
Werner was also a great wrestling fan, covering local high school wrestling for many years.
“Herb was always very positive in his articles in dealing with sports. Everyone enjoyed to read his work,” said Tony Yaniello, former long-time wrestling coach and Athletic Director at Tyrone. “I got to know Herb better on the golf course, where everyone loved the camaraderie he shared with us. Someone with his character and what he has done for local sports will be greatly missed.”
Werner was a 33-year veteran of the Pennsylvania National Guard, retiring in 1989 as Brigadier General. He had served as Adjutant General for the Pennsylvania National Guard in Philadelphia.
“The thinb I remember most about Herb, was his positive comments about kids,” said former Tyrone teacher and wrestling coach and now a member of the Tyrone Area School Board, and one of the busiest “retired people” anyone knows with community projects and concerns. “He was selfless, would do anything for anybody. Herb was just that kind of a good person.
“I remember, we called him the day of a Monogram Club meeting. The speaker had cancelled on the day of the meeting and Herb came and filled in and did a great job. He was like that-he did for others, no matter how inconvenient it was for himself.”
Werner grew up in Chicago and was a life-long Cubs fan, who came to Tyrone and adopted the community as his own.
Werner worked at the Daily Herald at a time when everybody did everything and knew the newspaper business from the bottom up.
Although I never got to work with Herb, here at the Daily Herald, he was a kindly gentleman who never allowed his position to hamper friendships. He was a loving family man, who was reunited with his beloved Virgie at the end.
“Herb was Tyrone-inside and out. He went out of his way to make sure Tyrone was never missed,” said Sickler.
Herb Werner fought a tough battle with the “Big C,” and will be sadly missed by family and friends and all those who love sports.