For more than half a century, one thing was a virtual certainty in Rostraver Township: when the board of commissioners met monthly, resident Bill Monro was there.
Over 53 years, he came to meetings to ask questions, get answers and remain involved in the community he called home. Now, he’s moving on.
“My wife Sandy and I wanted to live closer to one of our daughters,” said Monro, 88. “We decided to move to Allison Park, so I bid farewell to the commissioners and told them that was probably the last meeting I would be attending. I have a lot of great memories of these meetings. I learned a lot about how local governments work, and I had the chance to meet many nice people.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Monro let the board know about his move out of the township earlier this month, with commissioners telling him he’d earned their respect with his insightful comments and inspiring words of encouragement.
Monro started attending Rostraver’s board meetings soon after he moved to the township in 1966.
“My wife and I built a house in Rostraver Township so we could be closer to her mother,” said Monro, who grew up in McKeesport. “There was a problem I needed to resolve so I decided to attend a meeting of the Rostraver Township commissioners. I needed to get an answer from one of the commissioners, but he left before I had a chance to address the board. I returned for the next meeting and he was able to fix the problem. It occurred to me then, that the meetings were kind of interesting, so I kept on attending.”
Monro’s continued attendance caught the attention of the commissioners.
“Whenever meetings were about to end, one of the commissioners would say, ‘Mr. Monro, do you have any questions before we adjourn?’ And I’d reply, “As a matter of fact, I do.’ I always appreciated getting answers from the board.”
Although he never served as a commissioner himself, Monro said several people approached him over the years and asked him to consider running for office. It wasn’t something that interested him; he said he was content to attend meetings, listen and offer feedback.
He got an honorary title anyway.
“(My neighbors) knew I was a regular attendee at the meetings, so they would call me or visit me whenever they had a question about the township. I became known as the mayor of West McClain Road,” he said.
Monro said he’s certain most people don’t really know what goes on at municipal meetings – until they’re impacted by something.
“I have noticed that people tend to show up in bunches whenever there is an issue that affects their own property or neighborhood,” said Monro. “But otherwise, you don’t see too many familiar faces. It’s too bad more people don’t take an interest in their local government.”
Monro, who served in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s, worked for 39 years at the Westinghouse Atomic Power Division in McKeesport. He is enjoying his retirement doing lawn work and spending time with his son, two daughters and three grandchildren.
“It won’t be the same not attending a Rostraver Township meeting the first Wednesday of each month,” he said. “And I’ll miss Rostraver Township. It is one of the nicest places where you could live.”