Tony Dralle, PhD. (in Physics), of Leprechaun Dr. in Bethel Park PA;
lately of the Asbury Heights complex on Bower Hill Rd…
Tony passed this morning. Tony was a good man.
I’ve known him as fellow astronomy enthusiast and have been seeing him at our local astronomy club almost every month for the last 43 years. Over its history, our membership was never large, averaging 5 or 6 people, and for many years it seemed that we could only be sure that at the meetings there would at least be Erik B., Tony, and myself (EricC.).
That constancy and his gentle but fundamental decency were the hallmarks of Tony’s character to me. It was through Tony I learned that two people can maintain very different political opinions and still not let that ever get in the way of the mutual appreciation for each other’s basic goodness. Throughout my life I had always referenced Tony’s manner in that area as the very definition of “gentlemanly” conduct.
Tony loved astronomy and in the 60’s contributed a stream of his own careful backyard observations of the changing brightness of variable stars to the AAVSO, the national organization that complies that work for the use of professional astronomers. He was always an eager contributor to our discussions on telescopes and observing techniques and his observations of the latest apparitions of the moon and planets, comets, and stellar phenomena. He owned several large telescopes and often brought them out to our public star parties to show kids and their families the wonders of the nighttime sky.
He also loved jokes; the cornier the better, and it seemed that hardly a month would go by without him stopping the conversation, barely masking the wry expression on his face that portended what was to come. We knew it was coming, and we always looked forward to it.
Tony was a lifelong Roman Catholic and held his spirituality close to his heart, living it as a quiet example of how a good Christian relates to his God and others. I always imagined that Tony’s broad knowledge of Physics and Astronomy only further enriched his spiritual appreciation for the Universe; of this I’m certain.
Like most of us he had his share of heartbreak; troubles the details of which he rarely acknowledged to us but would on occasion to at least clue us in to the current challenge he was dealing with. It was only a couple years ago that we stood with him before his son’s coffin at Henney’s Funeral home in Bethel Park as he bore up under every parents’ harshest burden.
And so it is that we will join him there one last time, and remember him every time we look up at the stars.
Eric Canali 7/26/2016