Area Business Icon Honored With Lane Dedication
By Rick Hiduk
More than 100 people gathered at the intersection of Park Street and an alley next to the Bradford County Courthouse in Towanda that on July 1 became known as Bill Sick Lane. The one-block thoroughfare, which serves as an access road to the parking lot behind the Towanda Borough Police Department and runs parallel to Main Street and the Merrill Parkway, was dedicated to the former owner of the Ben Franklin Crafts store at Park and Main Streets.
Participants in the event included numerous members of the Sick family, current and former employees of the store, and several elected officials, including state Rep. Tina Pickett and Sullivan County Commissioner Robert Getz.
Sally Kahler introduced herself as the oldest of Bill and Lucy Sicks’ children and spoke on behalf of the family, the members of which were clearly moved by the event. Kahler related that the naming of the street behind the Towanda store was the culmination of several years of petitioning lawmakers, an effort that was supported by Sick’s many business colleagues and friends. Kahler noted that Sick was active in numerous business and community organizations, such as the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, and local chambers of commerce. She added that he was active in the restoration of the Keystone Theater and the development of Memorial Hospital Hospice. He also supported Serve, Inc., and was active as a board member of Guthrie Clinic in Sayre and the Pennsylvania College of Technology at Williamsport.
In reference to the number of relatives surrounding her at the dedication ceremony, Kahler declared, “This has been the greatest excuse for a family reunion.” Several family members, including Kahler’s son, Grant, shared memories with those in attendance about his grandfather and the store. Grant noted that he was often asked to work for sidewalk sales days and, as a 10-year-old, he handed out a lot of free popcorn.
Longtime friends of the family, including Leo Lambert of Dushore, credited Sick for his innate business sense and for his contributions to the economic vitality of the area. “I think that it’s very fitting that a man who was a mover and shaker on Main Street will remembered in this manner in the downtown area.” Lambert noted afterward that Bill and Lucy Sick were his godparents and that the Sick and Lambert children, whose age ranges were similar, attended St. Basil’s Catholic School in Dushore together.
Current Ben Franklin manager Jay Cory had the honor of removing the covering from the street sign. Cory first worked with Sick at the Towanda store in 1991, left to manage a store in Hazleton in 2000, and returned to manage the Towanda store in 2008. Sick, who passed way about 16 years ago, had sold the business to Greg Peck, who also operates Ben Franklin Crafts stores in Muncy and Milton. Sick also once owned stores in Dushore and Mansfield.
Rep. Pickett read aloud a proclamation from the state governor’s office and recalled how much she enjoyed Sick’s visits to the restaurant that she once owned in East Towanda. Getz spoke of Sick’s involvement with businesses and banking in Dushore and expressed his personal pride in representing Sullivan County at the event. Towanda mayor Garrett Miller addressed his congratulatory remarks directly to Lucy Sick, who sat nearby.
Cory closed the dedication ceremony by inviting everybody to take a tour of the store before leaving the area. The influx of customers after the event was just part of a record business day for the store, he related, a busy day that was further fueled by large Towanda First Friday crowds and an Independence Day parade that Cory estimated to have more than 100 participating units.