School mural honors Hempfield teacher, artist
A sheep, a shark, a pilgrim and a pig strut atop the bookshelves in a colorful new mural at the Maxwell Elementary School library in Hempfield.
They’re following a cheerful woman on a cherry-red scooter — their creator, Gail Bupp.
The teacher died of multiple myeloma in 2016 at the age of 60.
She was an artist who created a cast of colorful characters that adorned the t-shirts for Greensburg’s annual Turkey Trot.
This year, a group of teachers and graduates teamed up to hire local artist Raphael Pantalone to paint the mural in her honor.
Her husband, Barry Bupp, said he’s honored that the mural will be in the library, where it will be seen every day by the students to whom she devoted her life.
“Kids are my heart, and they were hers also,” he said. “Everyone will see it.”
The Bupps teamed up with a few friends to found the Greensburg Turkey Trot almost 30 years ago.
Gail Bupp’s shirt designs were like a recurring comic strip, with characters she developed over the decades.
“Even her cartoons, she could just sit down and draw that cartoon, she didn’t even have to think about it,” her husband said.
Pantalone said he never met Bupp, but he knew her by her reputation and admired her work. He tried to recreate her style with the mural, working from references in her portfolio.
“I tried to make it look like she was up there doing the work herself,” he said.
He finished the mural this week. Gail Bupp was known for driving around town on her red Vespa scooter.
She had an energetic personality and always found unique ways to solve problems, her husband said.
“Gail has a reputation as an amazing lady (with a) bubbly personality,” said Matthew Conner, assistant superintendent for elementary education with Hempfield Area School District.
Barry Bupp said he still gets together with Gail’s former colleagues a few times a year.
“We talk about memories,” he said. “It was an adventure every day with her.”
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer.