BY KEVIN WOODRUFF
and MATTHEW VINE
Gary Bluhm, who served as Mayor of Tunkhannock for 16 years – longer than anyone in its history – was laid to rest last Thursday. He was 60.
Karen Brown said at a memorial service presided over by Presbyterian Pastor Richard Wright that her brother was a bit of a prankster and usually had a good sense of humor.
Mayor Norm Ball who lost to Bluhm in a contest in the May 1981 primary but later succeeded him in 1998, said the length of his time spent as mayor speaks for itself.
Councilman Bob Robinson said Bluhm took his job as mayor quite seriously.
“He was diplomatic on solving the borough’s issues,” Robinson said. “He also had a great stature to him in that everybody trusted him.”
As mayor, Bluhm tried to make sure all the businesses in town were thriving and economically sound.
While some remember his civic involvements, most recalled his prowess on the basketball floor.
He holds the single game scoring record fr Tunkhannock Area High School at 45 points – set in 1970 in a game against Blue Ridge, and the fact that he could score.
Bluhm is the second all-time leading scorer at Tunkhannock with 1,630 points, behind Jim Hudock with 1.898.
Although Bluhm is second on Tunkhannock’s all-time list, it is worth noting that he scored 344 points as a freshman at Elk Lake before transferring to Tunkhannock, putting his all-time total at 1,974.
He was a 1970 graduate of Tunkhannock Area, where in just three seasons as a Tiger, Bluhm cemented himself in school history.
According to friend Stewart Casterline, who was later athletic director and coach at Tunkhannock, Bluhm was one of the two greatest scoring centers in Tunkhannock history.
In his senior year, Bluhm and teammate Steve Stahl combined for 1,059 points and led Tunkhannock to the District 12 championship with an 18-6 record under coach Joe Johnson.
“In later years there were taller centers who were prolific shot blockers, but none could score like Gary Bluhm,” Casterline said. ‘His 602 points as a sophomore are the most-ever in a season by a center at Tunkhannock.”
Casterline said that Bluhm was also a great golfer, who along with teammate Kurt VanDuzer made a great Tiger tandem.
Jack Pencek, of Tunkhannock, who was assistant coach alongside Johnson when Bluhm was at Tunkhannock, said as soon as Bluhm transferred from Elk Lake, he made the Tigers an immediate contender.
“He was a great rebounder. He got the ball out of there quick,” Pencek said. “He really helped uplift the Tunkhannock basketball program.”
Pencek said he helped the Tigers compete in what was then a crowded Susquehanna League.
“The league was always so competitive,” Pencek said, “with teams like Elk Lake and Trail.”
He said that Bluhm was never an aggressive ball player, but always a force on the court.
After high school, Bluhm went to King’s College, but obligations to his family shifted his priority from basketball.
Bluhm continued to play basketball as the years went on in recreational leagues in Scranton. He was also a skilled golfer and belonged to Irem Temple Country Club in Dallas.
In his later years, Casterline said Bluhm was responsible for forming a community basketball league in Tunkhannock, and was its first commissioner.
“The league ran for many years,” Casterline said. “He was very organized and ran a smooth operation.”