Alumni: Robert Becker


Levi Bettinger

Robert Becker stands in front of his house in Pine Grove.

Levi Bettinger, News Editor

Robert “Bob” Becker, Pine Grove High School class of 1950, has lived in Pine Grove for nearly 90 years, and he remembers every day of it. His family, up to his great grandfather, all grew up in Pine Grove.

 “The town was a lot cleaner back then. Everyone took pride in their home and their property,” Becker said. 

Becker grew up on South Pottsville Street, and got his first job when he was 12. “There was one railroad in town that brought everything in and two trucks that delivered the products to stores to be sold. My first job was helping the drivers with deliveries,” said Becker. 

He is also very proud to have graduated from Pine Grove High School and explained that things used to be different. There were 4 different types of courses:  business, farming, industrial, and home economics. Becker, who took Industrial, said they had classes like woodshop and shop math, and learned how to be part of the workforce. A lot has changed in the school system since the 1940s. 

Becker continued, “We didn’t have a cafeteria in the old high school. Most everyone walked home for lunch, and those that lived in the country brought their lunch in or had friends that lived in town. My senior year, the American Legion gave the school money to build one.Before Stump Stadium was put in, the FFA classes had a large plot of land there to plant crops and learn how to farm. The Legion also gave the school money to build that.” Some of Becker’s school activities included the very first student council in 1947, as well as baseball and basketball, the only two sports offered at Pine Grove High School.

When Becker graduated, only 2 of the 51 he graduated with went to college, because it was expensive and there wasn’t a lot of money to be had. Becker didn’t have a job, so he joined the Pine Grove Pennsylvania National Guard, with 121st Transportation Truck Company. 

“On August 19th, 1950, we were federalised, and 84 of us were sent to Basic Training. After that, we were sent to Korea, and arrived on January 4th. Our job was to transport materials, from weapons to food and water, we carried it to the troops in the front lines,” Becker said. Later that year, his parents were sick, and called him home so he could take care of them and his younger siblings. He then worked at nearby Fort Indiantown Gap with the 103rd Ordnance Company. In August 1952, the new Governor made budget cuts and had to lay off two Guardsmen-Becker was one. He was honorably discharged from the National Guard the day he was supposed to leave for a redeployment back to Korea. Becker then began working for ALCOA, inspecting aluminum, where he worked for 41 years, retiring in 1991. In that time, he met his wife Jean, and they were married in 1955, and would have four children (three of which still live in Pine Grove). He was a lifetime member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Becker also organized Pine Grove Little League and became an avid golfer. Becker was inducted into the Schuylkill County Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. 

Becker never lived anywhere else than Pine Grove, other than Basic Training and deployment in Korea. “I never left because I had to take care of my parents and provide for my family. A lot of people don’t like this town now, but back then, it was much nicer, and was the perfect town to raise a family in,” said Becker.  Becker’s great-grandchildren are the 4th generation to go to Pine Grove Area High School, and after nearly 90 years, he still lives in Pine Grove.