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Happy Birthday, Pat Guth: An appreciation


Happy birthday, Pat Guth.

You celebrated your 90th trip around the sun on a pleasantly warm February morning with students and teachers at the Perkasie elementary school named in your honor. In a way, they represented the hundreds of teachers and thousands of youngsters you touched during your remarkable 38 years as an educator, all but four of them in the Pennridge School District.

Your eyes lit up as the young voices joined together for a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” in your honor. You smiled and laughed as they presented you with oversized handmade birthday cards… “Dr. Guth Rocks” said one of them.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful day,” you told the kids. “It makes me feel very happy because there are a lot of happy people around me. So it’s fun.”

The outpouring of affection really came as no surprise. How many times have you told people “Kids make life a happy place”?

They noticed. As current principal Matt Smith says, “Dr. Guth’s love of learning and children serves as an example and standard to all we do at Guth.”

Your legacy at Pennridge is amazing. You came to the district from Slatington in 1958 as a teacher at Sellersville Elementary School, and within two years became the curriculum assistant in charge of language arts. At a time when female administrators were in short supply, you quickly moved up the ladder, first to director of elementary education, then to assistant superintendent for curriculum. You held that position for 30+ years, several superintendents, and dozens of schools boards, all with different ideas about how things should be done.

Somehow, you navigated the uncertainty with a combination of straight-forward confidence and gentle diplomacy. You even managed to earn your Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania during that time.

No one wondered where they stood with you. You were not shy about expressing your opinion but would patiently listen to others. As long as it was something that would benefit the kids, it would have your support.

You didn’t stay retired for long after you left Pennridge. You taught a whole generation of teachers as a professor at East Stroudsburg University. Some of them, like Krista Rush, currently are teachers at Pennridge. And you contribute your time and experience as a member of the community to the district’s long-range planning efforts.

And, of course, you volunteered as a tutor for many years in Pennridge schools, spending a couple hours a day a couple days a week helping youngsters who needed a little extra help to develop their reading and writing skills. As your friend Donna Huff says, “She never wanted to give up her connection with kids.”

In retirement, you also worked to help make the Pennridge Senior Center a reality, volunteered with Meals on Wheels, and started the enormously successful Chicken Pot Pie fundraiser at St. Paul’s UCC in Sellersville. It’s been only in the last few years that you turned over your meticulously kept record of procedures and recipes to others to keep up the tradition.

In 2019, your husband of 58 years, Buster, passed away. You two were inseparable, working on projects to make the community a better place. It hasn’t been easy living without him. Friends like Huff and Melody Nichols, a former principal at Guth, make sure you have everything you need. And for that, you are grateful.

The birthday party sparked a light for you. When everyone thought you were tired and wanted to go home, you insisted on making a day of it. Eventually, you ended up at one of your favorite spots, the Rockhill Filling Station, for lunch with your friends, laughing and telling stories of days gone by. It was almost like you hoped the day would never end.

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