John J. Antonio
- Army

John J. Antonio, 95 of Wellsboro, died on Saturday, Feb 25, 2017.

Born May 26, 1921 in Elkland, he was the son of the late Frank and Carmela Antonio.

John was a 1938 graduate of the Elkland High School. After graduation, he started a radio repair shop in Elkland, which he ran for four years.

In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (Air Force) where he flew B-24’s, B-17’s, and B-29’s for training and duty. While he was in the Air Force, he was also part of a Hollywood Air Force Radio Station where he was a radio broadcaster.

Upon his discharge in 1947, he married Effie Heysham. Together, they ran the radio repair shop in Nelson, PA and also opened Antonio’s Bus Service, a charter bus company. Today that bus service is known as Benedicts’ Bus. Shortly after their marriage, John went to the RCA Institute in New York City and graduated with a Broadcast Engineering degree.

Both John and Effie were involved in a variety of radio activities during their marriage. They were among the first ham radio operators in the area. John was active in the Wellsboro Amateur Radio Club (W3UAQ) and volunteered at many events. He was also the trustee for the Nesmuk Amateur Radio Association. (W3BGK)

In the late 50’s and early 60’s John produced a public broadcasting telethon on WCBA for Christmas donations for needy families. Later in Mansfield he created Santa’s Giftbag in a similar vision.

In 1958, John and Effie bought the Twain Theater in Mansfield. John was a borough council member there, a member of the Appalachian Thruway Association, and was active in many civic causes. He was also the host of a weekly children’s stage show called Johnny’s Fun Club. In Wellsboro, he acted as the master of ceremonies for the Junior Laurel Contest during that same time period.

In the 1960’s the bus business expanded significantly. The Antonio’s also bought the Mansfield Bus Depot and the Mansfield Restaurant on Main Street in 1967.

For decades, John and Effie had a live radio show on WNBT and WGCR that specialized in local talent and community events promotion. John’s wife Effie died in 1982 and he set out to build a memorial to her. He started the engineering and licensing process for a local Christian radio station. WLIH went on the air from Whitneyville, PA and still broadcasts daily.

John’s live radio show from Dunham’s Café 1905 on WNBT was popular with guests and listeners alike. He loved promoting Wellsboro and its lifestyle and events. John’s radio show was awarded the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Award for Excellence in Broadcasting and the Judge’s Merit Award for Public Service. John was also the radio voice for the Laurel Festival Parade and handled the queen’s candidate’s interviews for many years.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, John was an AmeriCorps Vista member in Tioga County. He served at the Pennsylvania Career Link offices in Wellsboro.

During his long tenure in Tioga County, John volunteered with many civic organizations and community causes. Among them were the Wellsboro Senior Center, Lions International, Kiwanas International, the American Legion, the American Red Cross, the Tioga County Youth Leadership Program, The American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association.  He was also a life-long member of the United Methodist church and was a lay (visiting) minister for many years.

John was a Paul Harris Award recipient by the Wellsboro Rotary Club and a recipient of the Tioga County Development Corporation Rod Kelchner Community Leadership Award for his tireless work on highway improvements in Tioga County.

In 2016, John was the recipient of the Cornerstone Award by Tioga Publishing which recognizes community involvement by a County citizen.  He was especially proud of that recognition and honor.

John is survived by his sister, Velma Minso of Louisiana;  daughter Linda Antonio Stager and son-in-law Dennis Stager of Wellsboro, two grandsons Jeff (Christy) of Ulysses, PA, Andrew (Katy) of State College , PA, and three (and a half) great-grandchildren: Camila, Nora, and Nelson; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral Services at the Tussey Mosher Funeral Home in Wellsboro are as follows: Visitation  is on Thursday night, March 2, 2017 from 6-8