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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Late Fox Chapel Area teacher’s love of travel lives on in student scholarships

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Late Fox Chapel Area English teacher Conroy Guyer traveled so frequently after retirement that he earned enough airline miles to fly on the supersonic Concorde from Paris to New York for free.

Guyer, who passed away in 2021, wanted to ensure that his passion for exploring lived on.

He bequeathed money to the AFS USA for scholarships to travel abroad. The fund is specifically for students who have financial struggles and would not be able to travel globally otherwise.

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“He really wanted to reach out to students that were not at the top academically and give them a chance to achieve something,” said longtime friend Tom Bajorek, who was charged with crafting the scholarship program.

Applications for a two-week trip to Spain this summer are open through Feb. 28 through the Fox Chapel Area High School counseling and Quest offices.

No Spanish language experience is required, but students will have morning classes to help assimilate. Afternoon trips will visit historical and cultural sites.

Bajorek met Guyer, a longtime Greensburg resident, nearly two decades ago and recalled his love for teaching, travel and talking.

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“He traveled often to New York City, California, Europe and Australia,” Bajorek said. “He always wanted to share his love of travel with others, which is why the scholarship to the AFS is so relevant.”

An avid theater fan, Guyer enjoyed the symphony and the Civic Light Opera but eschewed giving off any hoity-toity perceptions.

“He was a well-known client of some of the best restaurants in Pittsburgh, but he was always wearing his signature baseball cap,” Bajorek said.

“Conroy and I were theater and dining buddies and would chat for hours over dinner, martinis and wine about whatever play or music event we had just seen, or about politics, or about life in general. One of the recurring topics were students and people who had difficulty in achieving their life goals due to lack of finances, status or experience.

“He had a soft spot for students who didn’t necessarily do well academically but who were talented in or had a passion for something they wanted to pursue.”

Carol Huff, an AFS volunteer, said Guyer was a beloved teacher from 1965 to 1997 who always took time to talk with students.

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He was known for wearing cleats to give plenty of notice when he walked the halls on smoking patrol, she said.

“He was a great storyteller and was kind to his students,” Huff said.

His generosity will allow students to apply for a two-week adventure in Valladolid, a historic city north of Madrid.

Participants will explore palaces, castles and Roman ruins, and practice speaking skills at the dinner table with a host family while enjoying local cuisine.

“They will gain unique insight into contemporary global issues by volunteering with refugee children in the area,” Huff said.

Special excursions will be made to Salamanca to take in a 12th century cathedral and to the legendary Roman aqueduct in Segovia to see the Alcazar palace. A visit to Madrid’s version of Times Square, the Puerta del Sol, is also a scheduled highlight.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance or begin your second-language skills, make lasting friendships and give back to the community,” Huff said.

For details, visit afsusa.org/programs/spain-global-prep.

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Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, tpanizzi@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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