Free-lance newspaper reporter Jim Hosek, 50, a life-long Mount Oliver city neighborhood resident, passed away March 4 after a lengthy illness.
Mr. Hosek was the proprietor of Tri-State Sports & News Service, a company organized by him to provide local news coverage of the South Hills area for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Several Tri-State writers reside in the city's south neighborhoods, including Al Lowe and David Assad who have also been frequent contributing writers for The Reporter.
Although a bachelor who lived alone, Hosek had an extended family of countless friends, according to his sister Marcy Sukits.
“Jimmy had many friends, wonderful friends, who have been so helpful in the last year,” said Mrs. Sukits, of Prospect in Butler County. “Over the years, his friends multiplied and became part of our family. He was quick to laugh and slow to anger. Jimmy loved to have a good time and always had a smile on his face. He was very intelligent and loved to write for the newspaper.”
An avid movie buff, Mr. Hosek always invited friends over his house to watch the Academy Awards show each year. In many ways, Jim's life was similar to the George Bailey character portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in the movie “It's a Wonderful Life”.
“I considered him my best friend although I knew he was very close to a lot of other people who also considered him their best friend.” said Assad, a South Side Slopes resident. “I joined Tri-State just after he started the company almost 17 years ago. Back then, I had just lost my public relations job at one of the local hospitals. If it weren't for Jim, I'm not sure what I would have done because I was really feeling sorry for myself at that time, but he helped me keep a positive attitude. He was like that for a lot of other people who asked for his help or advice. He was always there when I needed a friend to talk to. ”
Hosek was a friend to people from all walks of life. This included the white-collar types in the newspaper business to the blue-collar guys who hung out with him at a bar owned by his friend Mike McArdle on 17th Street in South Side.
Many public officials and politicians considered Mr. Hosek a trusted and respected journalist. The municipalities he covered for many years in the PG South included Munhall, West Homestead, Baldwin, Dormont and Jefferson Borough.
He lived on the “City Side” of Ottilia Street bordering Mount Oliver borough, so Mr. Hosek liked to keep abreast of city politics.
When Gene Ricciardi initially ran for council in 1989, Hosek was a volunteer who played a key role in the campaign. Hosek recruited other volunteers to take part in the campaign to elect Councilman Ricciardi. Several of these volunteers campaigned door-to-door. These volunteers who were Jim's friends also “worked outside the polls” on election-day during the spring primary in 1989.
“He played a very instrumental role in my beginnings in 1989 with his strong research, with his writing capabilities and his personality which was just marvelous,” Ricciardi said. “Jim did a lot for my campaign that year. When you run you have to have position papers which take strong research and sitting down and building a consensus. It takes direction and he handled things for me very naturally and quite well. He helped me with a lot of the media contacts. I really mean that when I say I was blessed to have a foundation which laid the groundwork for where I am now as council president. He was a cornerstone for me at that time.”
Mr. Hosek was a 1971 graduate of St. Joseph High School where he graduated with high honors. He earned his journalism degree from Duquesne University in 1975 and served as the editor of the university's student newspaper for an unprecedented three years.
After spending a couple years working in public relations for a local utility company, Mr. Hosek spent five years living in Atlantic City, N.J. where he held a variety of jobs. These jobs included modeling for newspaper and magazine ads, working at a casino and teaching at several New Jersey high schools.
Hosek returned to Pittsburgh in 1983 shortly after his father passed away to take care of his elderly mother who eventually passed away in 1988. Hosek was a substitute teacher for two years in the Pittsburgh Public Schools upon his return to Pittsburgh. That is also when he began to work as a free-lance reporter for the Post-Gazette and other local publications.
Mr. Hosek was also the organizer of the annual Mount Oliver 2-Mile Challenge which was held in the borough each summer in conjunction with the St. Joseph Parish Festival.
The race started at Transverse Park and ended in the St. Joe's church parking lot. The race was held every summer until the parish merged to become St. John Vianney in 1994.
“I knew Jim basically because he was involved in athletics with the church and was always around to give us a hand with the recreation programs,” former Mount Oliver councilman Don Froehlich said. “He struck me as a guy who was always interested in the community and was willing to report the good things that went on in the borough.”
Froehlich recalls Mr. Hosek writing an article in Pittsburgh Magazine that shed the borough in a positive light.
“Back in 1995, he called me up and wanted to write a story on the [volunteer] things we do at Christmas time,” Froehlich said. “At the top of the page the headline in the magazine article reads ‘Real Pittsburgher: Santa and His Helpers.' It has a picture of me, my wife Shirley and Jean Miller [a long-time borough council member] taken at Charlie's Diner in East Liberty. The story goes on about us visiting South Side Hospital and the Veterans Administration [Hospital] and so forth. Jim approached me about writing this. He was always a classy, well-spoken sort of guy who felt there were a lot of good things to say about the neighborhood and the people who live there.”
In addition to his sister Marcy, Mr. Hosek is survived by another sister, Sandie Holdan, of Apex, N.C.
Friends and family were received this past weekend at the Howard A. Farnsworth Funeral Home at 425 Brownsville Road. A funeral Mass was held for Jim on Monday morning at St. Joseph Church on Ormsby Avenue.