Louis Pugh, 86, jumped into the sky on November 23rd, 2020. As an owner of multiple nightclubs and restaurants, it is his families theory that with the cancellation of the largest unofficial holiday in Pennsylvania (Thanksgiving Eve), Louis decided his best hope was on “The Other Side”; where drinks flow, family and friends gather, and illness is gone!
Louie was born on January 11th, 1934 in Courtdale, Pennsylvania to the late Louis Pugh and Julia Dominic Yablonski. Growing up on Cooper Hill in Courtdale, Louie took it upon himself to help feed the local homeless. Deciding to strike out into the world, Louie enlisted in the United States Army at 17. When asked by officials what he wanted to do, his answer was: “What needs to be done? “Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes into the unknown was the result! Welcome to the 187th Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division; known as the “Rakkasans”. As a paratrooper in the Korean War, Louie was accustomed to jumping first and worrying about where he would land later. This mentality served Louie well during his life. He always knew he was headed somewhere, and it was up to everyone else to find him — just ask his best friend Al Wallace! Louie enjoyed being where the action was, another trait he carried through his life. He was a Golden Glove boxer in the Army, and it was fair to say he enjoyed the competition and could hold his own. He was awarded 2 Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart for his service, his family was unaware of Louies Purple Heart until they saw it on his license plate. The only time he ever mentioned his war days, was much later in life watching the film ‘Heartbreak Ridge’ with family, when he commentated that he “fought on that hill”.
War concluded, and Louie needed to find his next adventure. Racing stock cars in Canada was next on the list. When he started, he was told green was an unlucky color on race cars, so he promptly painted his car green and added the number “13 jr” to its side. In his first race, he was in an accident and rolled the car. Louie considered it “a win” that he had tempted fate and was still breathing. Later in his life, Louie qualified for the United States bobsled team.
During one of many competitions, he injured his knee, he asked the Doctor treating him if they could just numb it, the Doctor replied no, he felt the knee may have been broken. Louie responded that it would still be broken after the race, and he needed to finish. Louie had a lifelong attitude of, “Today we will finish, tomorrow we can hurt.” Louie later went on to manage the team.
Never one to stay content, Louie earned his pilot’s license and over the years, owned many different planes. He flew a Republic Seabee seaplane, a source of great fun on the lakes of New York. He next purchased a fabric-winged open cockpit “Biplane," because landing in the water was not enough. Louie moved on to various single engine planes throughout his years. Legend has it, he flew one under the Market Street Bridge, in Wilkes-Barre. The story was told to his family by his friend, the late Bill Lewis of Larksville, PA. Apparently, Louie was dared that he could not do it, so off to the airport they went, and the flight under the bridge was completed. Louie’s comment after the flight; “See, no problem”. It is fair to say that over the years Louie’s tail numbers were no stranger to many airport control towers! Al Wallace tells another story of being with Louie when he picked up his first twin engine airplane, believed to be a Cessna 411. After the preflight check and starting the twin engines, Al asked Louie if he knew how to fly a twin engine plane? Louie responded: “One, two, how hard can it be? We have a spare engine now.” As they were taking off, Louie asked Al to start reading the manuals on landing procedures. This seems to sum up a lot of how Louie viewed life.
Much was learned by observing Louie. Family and friends over the years have provided many great stories and experiences, and we thank all who shared their memories. Louie was a charter member of the Northmoreland Township Volunteer Fire Department, a cause he cared for deeply. His family notes that Louie was never one to sit still for long, fondly recalling that he would last about two days on family trips before saying, “Drop me off at the airport, I need to get back to work”. He loved having a motorhome, he just didn’t back it up well. This makes sense, afterall he was a forward- thinking person! We will miss his directions of “how” to back the motorhome into the RV spot, a task frequently assigned to the kids (as well as emptying the sewage tank), who could have done a fine job without his help. Great (although a bit crappy) memories indeed! Think of the Movie RV!
If you knew Louie, please enjoy some of our stories, we are aware many of you will also have many tales. We ask you share them with everyone, and think kindly of Louie who always jumped first, and worried later! Here is to hoping your chute is open wide, and you are enjoying your ride!
Surviving are his sons, Alan M. Pugh and his wife Brenda of Dallas, PA; Adam Pugh and his wife Sarah of Edmund, OK; daughter, Cindy Urban of Dallas, Pa; Louie’s loving partner in life, Jenny Centrella of Dallas, PA; sisters, Karen Rittenhouse & Shirley Cave; eight Grandchildren: Rachael & her husband Brian Coleman; Alan L. Pugh and his wife Samantha; Adrienne and her husband Russell Eyet; Sadie, Amelia & Charlie Pugh; and Christopher Carr; seven Great- Grandchildren: Nathan, Christian & Parker Eyet; Gavin Coleman; and Devin Carr.
In addition to his parents, Louis Pugh and Julia Dominick Yablonski, he was preceded in death by his brother, Robert Pugh, and his grandson, Michael Ryan Carr.
The family would like to extend a special thank you for the compassion and kindness of all the Doctors and Staff at the Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center, Scranton, PA.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:
Patriots Cove, 4334 SR 29 South, Noxen, PA, 18636 for our Veterans; Keystone Mission, PO Box 470 Scranton, PA, 18501 to help the homeless or
Northmoreland Volunteer Fire Department 1618 Demunds Rd Tunkhannock, Pa 18612
There will be a visitation held Thursday, December 3, 2020, at Richard H. Disque Funeral Home, 2940 Memorial Hwy., Dallas, PA, 18612 from 5 pm to 7 pm. Family and friends are welcome to stop by and share their stories. Funeral Services will be private for the family. Interment will be at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. COVID 19 restrictions will be followed. Online condolences may be made at Disquefuneralhome.com.
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