Frank Podleiszek calls Bethlehem the gem of the Lehigh Valley. No matter where life brought him he knew he would always return to his home town. He grew up in Northampton Heights, a very wealthy borough on the south side of Bethlehem. The wealth of the neighborhood was mostly due to the residents’ employment at Bethlehem Steel. He remembers his house as strong and sturdy made of brick, beautiful walnut doors, and a slate roof. He talked of the time his entire neighborhood was knocked down for a project by the very company that had brought its wealth. The demolition of 25 blocks in the area made way for “progress” – Basic Oxygen Furnaces for Bethlehem Steel. He related that the steel ball that demolished his house had to work hard to finally knock down its sturdy, well designed structure.
When I asked Frank where he went to college his face lit up, and he became very animated and excited by remembering his time studying Music Education at Penn State. He enjoyed the campus atmosphere and strong sense of community. It is in communities, especially academic one, where he seems to always thrive and find fulfillment.
After college Frank became a music teacher in Lower Bucks County. He started out teaching general music and acquired more and more responsibility until he was teaching all four school choirs. He also for a time served as Head of the Music Department. His passion for music education did not go unnoticed and the final year of his career he was given the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award which also allowed him a government grant to use in his classroom.
Frank’s obsession with music started when he was very young. He still remembers his first solo at 10 years old singing Silent Night on Christmas Eve at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Almost all his life he has sung. He was not only a member of the St. Luke’s Singers choir, but also the Assistant Director and head of ticket processing, which he explained was a very complex task. The St. Luke’s choir offered him the chance to sing a varied repertoire, including some of his favorites which are show tunes. He is still involved with his church choir and is also a volunteer at his church in addition to volunteering at LUAG.
Frank’s first volunteering experience at Lehigh University was with Zoellner. He decided to help out at LUAG when they opened their current location 18 years ago. His favorite exhibitions are more traditional though he does enjoy all types of art and talking about them. People are what he enjoys most about volunteering. He is always happy to see a new face at the gallery and discuss the importance of what is hanging on our walls. He says the place is like a family to him, everyone being here for so long and knowing each other for many years. He feels part of something and part of a community, which has always been a very important part of his life.