Never Ending Story
by Cate Murway

"Looking and seeing are as different as babbling and speaking. Most people only look and do not see." 
Bates Lowry, author [1925-2004]

Emmy Award-winning veteran news anchor Connie Colla, who also serves as managing editor of the award-winning "Your Morning”, brought football athlete, teacher and coach, author William Michael [Bill] Pezza, BHS ‘65/Millersille State College ‘69/ Political Science Masters, Trenton State ’72 to the CN8 viewers. Bill wrote his significant tale, “Anna’s Boys”; set during the Vietnam War, charms the readers into opening their hearts. It is impossible not to be drawn into the provocative settings that he presents. This chronicle is of the first young and quite impressionable generation where combat veterans were returning home prior to the end of the war. This uniting factor became the collective conscience and Bill archives their journey through a small-town lens. He looked, and he helps the readers to see.

He met his wife, the “best looking girl on the [paper] route” delivering the Bucks County Courier Times to the family of the late Dr. Thomas Sheldon and Leona [Higgins] Fannin, Radcliffe & Washington Street residents, and their cheerleader daughter Karen Lee [Fannin], Bishop Egan ‘65/St. Francis College ‘69/ Trenton State College, Graduate work and her sister, Kathleen and late brother, Thomas. Karen recently retired after 25 years as teacher and 6 years as Principal of St. Mark School.  “Everyone is always in school, either as a student or a teacher.” Their all-about-education family includes their children, Edgewood Elementary School in Yardley 3rd grade teacher Leighann, CEC ‘90/West Chester University, Masters at Bloomsburg University; sales manager Bill, Jr., BHS ‘94, PSU/ Rutgers Law School, and Lower Moreland School teacher Greg, BHS ‘96/ PSU/ M. ED Temple University/ M.S. Educational Administration Gwynedd Mercy College.

Bill, Sr. just retired this June as Teacher/ Administrator, Social Studies Curriculum Supervisor at Lower Moreland High School. His “retirement” will include teaching American History, Bristol Campus and American National Government, Newtown Campus of Bucks County Community College and administrative work as a consultant at Lower Moreland H.S.  His comprehensive list of philanthropic community service includes the 20 years he worked for PA Legislature as a liaison for State Representative, Honorable Thomas C. Corrigan, Sr., representing the 140th Legislative District. Bill also served as South Ward Borough Councilman for 8 years, and as Council President for 5 years until 1988. He was influential in laying the groundwork for the revitalization and reclamation of the Riverfront North, primarily driven by the vision and efforts to promote the redevelopment and the best reuse of the land to create a more sustainable community on a former underused industrial site. The leadership of the Lions’ “2003 Citizen of the Year” was also prominent in the Mill Street project, the Villas at Riverview, the age restrictive property that would not have an impact on the school district, and the “rails to trails” lines for biking, walking and jogging.  He promoted excellence during his 8- year tenure through his service on the Borough School Board and as Vice President and unselfishly participated in the Zoning Board for several years. Altogether, he has devoted almost 2 decades of his life to appointed and elected positions in the Borough. His proudest moments in his Corrigan/ Senator Tommy Tomlinson experience include the almost all-volunteer operation for the completion of the beautiful Lagoon, fountain and bridge.

Pezza, Sr. has also invested 38 years in the Lower Moreland School District.
Although in some schools, the education process may become reductive and mechanistic, this outstanding educator with his innovative, productive, forward thinking and imaginative and creative teaching styles, has continued to enrich and maximize the quality of education.

“Bill Pezza has been a master at putting a "face" on history for the students in his classroom….” Dr. David Archibald, Former Superintendent of Schools, Lower Moreland Township School District. 
The Social Studies program apparently was always been alive and vital.
“In September 2005, radio host author, Michael Smerconish, known for his political commentary, brought his early morning, Infinity Broadcasting's Big Talker WPHT 1210-AM program to Lower Moreland H.S. to celebrate this nation's first observance of Constitution Day, according to Bill Pezza, the school's social studies coordinator. Topics ranged from President Bush's policies to how the Philadelphia Eagles would fare during the 15 games left this season”, per the article written by a freelance writer, James E. Stanton in the Bucks County Courier Times.
According to Bill’s teaching partner of 5 years, the current Principal of Lower Moreland Murray Avenue School in Huntingdon Valley, Francis Xavier [Frank] McKee, Cardinal Dougherty ‘66/LaSalle University ’70,  “I would get caught up in what Bill was teaching, the same as the kids!” Both of Frank’s daughters and his wife, Ellen [Blandt], Lower Moreland ’81, mutually agree that Bill Pezza was the best teacher they ever had.

Bill was born in Manhattan, NY to the late Italian born Ernesto Vincent Pezza, Sr., supervisor of Owens- Illinois, Inc., a corrugated box factory and his birth mom, who passed away when Bill was only 5, Lillian [Libertore], a cousin of Bob Liberatore, Sr.’s father. He and his late brother Ernest Vincent Pezza, Jr., who, Bill shared,  “played a large part in raising me when mom became ill”, grew up on Lincoln and then Jefferson Avenues with his dad and his step-mom, Josephine [Simonini].

Influential people in his life also include his Midget League football coach, Florida resident, Bill Harbison, “One of the finest guys I know in terms of working with kids. Bill was big!” High School social studies teacher, Marion Washington and English teacher, Joe Franceschino impacted him positively. Centennial District English teacher Vince Cordisco gave much support and feedback for his book and former BHS English teacher, Angela Zenzel assisted with “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s”.

The importance of family is time-honored in the Pezza’s Pond Street home, full of generational pictures, considerable creative and artistic talents, certificates of amazing accomplishments and Philadelphia Eagles memorabilia.
His father’s passport [passaporto] from Italy dominates one wall near the fireplace with his dad’s famous words, “Tell Mussolini if he wants me, he’ll have to come to America.”

On a lighter, contemporary side, flip-flops, a favorite of Karen’s, are an interior design accessory in the form of candles and wall hangings, as well as footwear.

Bill shares a mutual birthday with American film director and producer, #1 of The 50 most influential baby boomers, Steven Allan Spielberg, [landmark science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)], who has tackled emotionally powerful themes and issues such as the Holocaust, slavery, war, and terrorism.
Bill is optimistic, enthusiastic, adventurous, outspoken, and independent. With his positive outlook on life, energy, versatility, and eagerness to extend experience beyond the physically familiar, he has written a high-quality, highly marketable book meant to “Engage--Entertain--Educate!” From
 “The tumultuous 1960s unfold in a way that resonates both emotionally and intellectually with teens, as they try to make sense of our recent history and today's complex current events. History was never so relevant.”
Positive reviews abound and he has received “scores of e-mails from as far south as Florida and as far west as Oregon”! 

“Bill Pezza has written a wonderful book about friendship and loyalty on many levels. The central theme of Anna’s Boys, captured in the final chapter, transcends partisan divisions and raises timeless questions about what America owes its men and women in uniform.”  Michael G. Fitzpatrick, United States Congressman
The book’s setting is the small town Historic Bristol Borough of faith, family and friends that he so adamantly loves. 
Bill has lived in Bristol virtually his whole life. In his own words, “he loves the town, he feels the town and tried to capture the essence of what people in the town are all about.”

“They pedal on to Lion’s Park, a peaceful, grassy area set along the Delaware River. There’s a gazebo there, and on Sunday evenings in the summertime, the local Lion’s Club hosts free concerts.”[from “Anna’s Boys”  by Bill Pezza]

The forward is written by Captain [at the age of 20!] David Alan Christian, U.S.A., Woodrow Wilson H.S. ’66, "Youngest Most Decorated Officer of the Vietnam War". 
“As a non-veteran with no boots on the ground of combat, Bill captured the essence of the changes that take place in a small town and the pockets of the city during a war and the everlasting effects on society.” 
He uses intelligent logic and compelling curiosity to look beyond the external appearance of people for a truer, more intrinsic value. He pens with both his heart and his mind.

Bill is original and ingenious; his mind is constantly open to new dimensions of thought. He initiated this writing project 3 1/2  years ago with bright ideas regarding evolution of events over time; aimed straight and his arrows never missed their targets. “Karen laughed at the right times, cried at the right times, so I thought I had something going.”
He is good at organizing, prolific at writing and has a supportive, involved family unit; a combination that gives him the ability to bring any project he undertakes to a successful conclusion.
He and Karen were both born on a Thursday.
“Thursday’s child has far to go.” [author unknown]

Anna’s Boys is available on-line at or Barnes & Noble at
Or stop in to see Anne Walp, “It’s a great read! Am still trying to see if I recognize any of his characters!”  Pick one up at “Great Id's by Anne” 257 Radcliffe Street  215.785.2350. 

Make checks payable to Bill Pezza and mail your personalized order to:
Anna’s Boys 
C/O Bill Pezza
1221 Pond Street
Bristol, PA 19007
Address inquires to  

 To recommend a Bristol Borough Character to be spotlighted:

American Heritage Dictionary
char·ac·ter     n.  
1.Moral or ethical strength. 
2.A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities. 


Stealing Tomatoes is a SMASH!
by Cate Murway

“Set in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Stealing Tomatoes is a sweeping and provocative story of love and conflict with engaging characters whose experiences will cause readers to laugh, cry, and, most of all, think.”

It’s summer at long last! Are you looking for your next good read?

William Michael [Bill] Pezza, BHS ’65 once again takes us “writing” down Memory Lane.  If you have ever started a sentence with “I remember when . . .”, welcome to Stealing Tomatoes, where everybody knows somebody and actually cares about them! Would you give [just about] anything for a taste of your favorite soda right now-cream soda, cherry, orange, grape, birch beer, or sarsaparilla? Every small town has three busy places- the library, the pub and the corner store. Bill’s incredible writing style and his great plots with all of the flavor of historic Bristol on the Delaware provide his novels with a high level of authenticity. The Lions’ “2003 Citizen of the Year” is a touchstone that connects us to our small town family where a story is always waiting on the porch swing. I dare you to not be drawn into the provocative settings that he presents that by-pass the brain and go straight to the heart!
Around the corner you’ll find a friend, in this small town that has no end………..

As you live the warm hearted, touching and true-to-life experiences of his characters, you will feel right at home. You will smile, wince, chuckle and sigh but most of all, enjoy the much-anticipated return of the small-town folks from one of the most interesting small towns that dot the map. Bill’s real subject is the human spirit. He doesn't simply bring his characters to life; he gives them souls.

“Stealing Tomatoes is a powerful cross-generational story in which survivors of eras gone by pass the torch to a new generation of Americans faced with a different kind of conflict. They find themselves confronted with a diabolical and elusive enemy that knows no national boundary and uses unspeakable tactics.” 

Bill Pezza accurately writes about poignant material many an author would shrink from, giving a crucial sense of his characters living through time, hanging on to even one of the fundamental rights -- life, love, the pursuit of happiness. Life is sometimes best understood in sidelong glances. Through these glances emerges something brooding, mysterious, ineffable and beautiful. 
Bill shares a mutual birthday with American film director and producer, #1 of The 50 most influential baby boomers, Steven Allan Spielberg, [landmark science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)], who has tackled emotionally powerful themes and issues such as the Holocaust, slavery, war, and terrorism.

“Johnny and his friends come of age in small-town America in the 1980s and struggle to learn who they are and what they value. Over the next two decades, the boys evolve into men, driven by duty and bolstered by the women they love. Together they must preserve their relationships while being swept up in the most critical security issue of our time.”

Bill’s neighbor, wrestler Vincent B. Cordisco, Delhaas ‘65/PSU ‘69/Temple wrote for the literary magazine while in school. He is a retired Klinger Middle School teacher in the Centennial district and has enthusiastically given much support and feedback for Bill’s books. He feels a personal connection to the plots having lived through the 60’s and the Vietnam War [himself registrant deferred because of civilian occupation].
He shares the universal concern with terrorist acts and is interested in how the government can keep us safe.
“Bill did a great job on both books and I’m always glad to help him!”

Recently retired Bensalem English teacher Albert Francis [Bert] Barbetta, BE ‘67/SJU ’71 and his wife, lifelong Borough resident Diane [Capriotti], Villa Victoria ’66 reside on Garden Street. Their four Borough educated daughters are Dr. Stephanie Azzarano, BHS ’89/Holy Family ‘93/ Hahnemann Medical College; Gina Eddings, BHS ‘93/ SJU ’97, who is involved in pharmaceutical research; math teacher Michelle, BHS ‘96/SJU ’00; and the youngest, Diana, BHS ‘03/SJU ’07. Bert has known Bill since they were teenagers and he willingly assisted with the proof-readings.
 “I especially enjoyed the development of “old man [Ernesto] Lombardi”; he reminds me of my grandfather, Frank DeVita.”

“Ernesto Lombardi loves his backyard tomato garden. He plants it, nurtures it, and fiercely protects it against neighborhood kids who steal tomatoes for sport. When a twist of fate unites "Old Man" Lombardi and Johnny Marzo, the young leader of the mischievous neighborhood gang, the boy and the old man form a powerful bond. Lombardi, a World War II paratrooper, teaches the boy valuable lessons about life, love, and the unyielding defense of one's family and country.”

“I didn’t know Bill was such a romantic. It was easy reading and I understood all the references having lived through and at that time period.... I was really impressed with the book but I didn’t expect anything less!”  
Mayor Honorable Joseph A. Saxton, BHS ‘67

 “First, I fell in love with the book because he dedicated it to his father who was a wonderful man who reminded me of my grandfather, Samuel Mignoni. I loved the description about the Italian people bringing tomatoes to their family and friends. He captured the ritual beautifully.”  2nd grade teacher Rosemarie [Mignoni] Szczucki, BHS/ Millersville, Mignoni Jewelry and Gifts.  

Stealing Tomatoes is available at Mignoni Jewelry and Gifts. Call 215.788.3243 to reserve your autographed copy.
Bill's books are also available at Great I.D.’s by Anne 215.785.2350.

Review posted on phillyfunGuide by James Haldeman from Bristol, May 31, 2009.
“What an emotional whirlwind this story took me on. I loved every minute of reading. I cried, I laughed and remembered my own time in Bristol. "Stealing Tomatoes" makes the town come alive with great people of high character. So many names I recognized too. It sure makes one proud to be a Bristol Boy, Cleavers, River Rats and Canal Rat. My only regret is I am not Italian.”

Last Wednesday, the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library hosted a fun informal group talk and author interview discussion of his newest book, Stealing Tomatoes.  Bill’s books have gained considerable acclaim in the local media and have special regional interest because much of the stories take place in Bristol Borough.
Thinking outside the chat room, Bill has appeared on the Comcast Network’s program “Your Morning” with Emmy Award-winning veteran news anchor Connie Colla to discuss his book. He was also interviewed by Philadelphia’s premier talk radio personality Michael Smerconish of WPHT 1210.

“I believe history is most engaging when we can put a human face on it, when we can become emotionally involved with the issues and characters. That’s what I try to do in the classroom and what I attempted to do in the book[s],” Bill Pezza said.

So hurry! What are you waiting for?
A warm summer's day means a great book, a cool drink, and a comfortable deck chair.
Pour yourself a frosty glass of home-brewed lemon iced tea. Locate a comfortable lounge chair and allow yourself to transcend the moment as Stealing Tomatoes cleverly guides you someplace else within your imagination.

Both works of historic fiction, Stealing Tomatoes and Anna’s Boys are also available on-line at or Barnes & Noble at

Contact Bill Pezza at

Recommend a "Spotlight"; e-mail


Four educators to share 'Person of the Year' award at second annual Bristol Fall Classic
Friday, July 20, 2012

BRISTOL --- Coming on the heels of last year’s event honoring Jeff Manto as Person of the Year, this year’s Bristol Fall Classic is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17 at Bernard Mazzocchi’s Canal Works Building located at the corner of Canal and Beaver streets.

The Bristol Fall Classic supports free, after-school educational enrichment for Bristol Borough youth in grades 1 through 12. Preliminary data for 2011-12 show 244 students were served, with daily attendance averaging 42 students, in programs at St. James Parish House and Snyder-Girotti Elementary School. Thirty-four percent (34 percent) of students attending regularly showed improvement in Math PSSA scores, while 25 percent showed improvement in Reading PSSA scores.

This year’s event will focus and highlight the role of Bristol Borough educators and their impact on the lives of Bristol Borough’s youth. Four educators have been selected to share the Bristol Fall Classic’s Person of the Year Award. Each educator was selected for their significant contributions in the classroom at Bristol Borough’s public and parochial schools.

Ken Bachman, the former Band Director at Bristol High School, from 1952 to 1984, established a marching band recognized beyond Bucks County and was a model of success for other marching bands in the region. In addition to nurturing the marching band during his 32 year affiliation with the Bristol Borough School District, Bachman managed the overall musical instrumentation program including the Stage Band, Orchestra and taught many students instrumental music at every grade-level. Some have said that elements of the award winning movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus” were, perhaps, borrowed from Mr. Bachman’s life story and dedication to music and children of the Bristol Borough School District.

Joseph Franceschini, a well-known and highly regarded high school English teacher at both Bristol High School and Conwell Egan Catholic, introduced thousands of students to both American and British literature, drama and poetry. Franceschini regularly performed from several of Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy’s for his students, most notably, Ophelia’s death in Hamlet.

Most of Franceschini’s students were well prepared for college --- after enduring the discipline and rigors of his classroom curriculum --- some even able to successfully test out of mandatory freshman English courses at some of the nation’s elite four year universities.

Carol Mignoni-Ferguson’s teaching career spans 25 years with the Bristol Borough School District where she taught kindergarten at the former Warren Snyder Elementary School. Mignoni-Ferguson nurtured her students --- planting the seeds for lifelong learning --- using techniques such as playing, singing, activities and social interaction to establish a fundamental framework for continued learning in the years’ ahead. Her efforts in the classroom resulted in receiving the honor of Teacher of the Year. Since retiring from education, Mignoni-Ferguson has remained active in the community serving on several boards including the Bristol Borough Rotary Club, Bucks County Community College Trustees and the Bristol Riverside Theatre. Along with her sisters, Mignoni-Ferguson is the proprietor of Mignoni Jewelers on Mill Street in Bristol Borough.

Karen Fannin Pezza began her career in education at the Council Rock School District. Bristol Borough was fortunate when Pezza decided to pursue her passion closer to home becoming a substitute teacher at the Bristol Borough School District in order to be more readily available to her three young children. When her children were older she returned to teaching on a full time basis joining the professional staff at St. Mark Parochial School to begin a 31 year relationship at her beloved parish school.

During her tenure at St. Mark School, 
Pezza established the kindergarten program, 
taught third and fourth grades and severed 
as principal for six years. 
Pezza’s legacy remains strong at St. Mark School 
today as a result of the many programs she established 
including the Reading Olympics and active participation 
in several community events 
such as the Historic Bristol Day and 
the annual Christmas Parade.

Tickets for the Bristol Fall Classic are $50.00 per person and are expected to sell fast. To purchase tickets, learn about sponsorship opportunities or obtain more information about this year’s event, call Mary Gesualdi at 215-788-0915.

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Pezza family 1979
"My new book, How Bristol Won: and will keep on winning, will go on sale in a week. 
It pays tribute to over 250 people who helped put Bristol Borough in a position to win, recounts the SBR contest from start to finish and lays out a suggested plan for our future. 
It also includes messages from leaders from five other towns we competed against, including runner-up, Red Wing, MN.
It is dedicated to EVERYONE who took part in the contest." 
Book cover by Jean-Marc Dubus
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