People-loving woman was perfect to run rink
A sociable, widely loved woman such as Barbara Tyber couldn’t have found a more perfect career than owning and operating a roller-skating rink.
For 35 years, Tyber and her husband, Robert, worked hard to make the Riverview Skating Rink — best remembered as the Piggy Wiggy after the miniature golf course it replaced along Route 906 in Belle Vernon, Westmoreland County — a favorite gathering place in the Mon Valley and a fun place to raise their three children.
Tyber, of Belle Vernon, formerly of Monessen, Westmoreland County, died of complications from a stroke on Friday, Jan. 13, 2006, at Jefferson Regional Medical Center. Not even her children knew their mother’s age.
“She used to say, ‘Nobody knows how old I am, and they don’t need to know,'” said daughter Sherry Lustig of Belle Vernon. “Even if they knew, with those beautiful sky blue eyes, they wouldn’t have believed it anyway. She just lit up a room.”
Mrs. Tyber’s parents, John and Maria Sekula Reha, were Hungarian immigrants who died when she was a young girl, leaving her to be raised by her older sisters.
Independent and strong-willed, she worked as a waitress at the original Johnson’s restaurant in Monessen and served as a hostess at the Inn America.
After World War II, she married Robert Tyber, of Monessen, who had proposed to her just before shipping out to the Philippines, where he served in an Army medical unit.
In 1950, the Tybers — known in the community as “Barb and Bob” — bought the former Piggy Wiggy golf course and converted it into a roller-skating rink that they operated until they retired in 1986. In its heyday during the 1960s, the rink was open seven days a week, becoming a popular hangout for kids and crowd-pleasing spot for private parties.
Mrs. Tyber gave skating lessons, helped oversee the daily operations of the rink and raised her three children in the house next door. All three could skate almost before they could walk.
“She always took the extra step for us and gave up things to make sure we were taken care of,” said son Gary Tyber, of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County.
Mrs. Tyber was an avid dancer, and even after her husband of nearly 50 years died in 1993, she continued to attend dances at social venues throughout the Mon Valley with a group of close friends. She also kept busy by doing volunteer work for the Red Cross and the dental clinic at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Oakland.
“She was just a very, very kind and giving person,” Lustig said.
Mrs. Tyber is survived by three children, Sherry Lustig, of Belle Vernon, Regis Tyber, of Belle Vernon, and Gary Tyber, of Mechanicsburg; three sisters, Kathryn Nogy Wilkinson, of Belle Vernon, Betty Clark, of Biscayne, Fla., and Vera Hutton, of Belle Vernon; a brother, Jack Reho, of Belle Vernon; and four grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Ferguson Funeral Home Inc., Broad Avenue, Belle Vernon. A blessing service will be held at 9:15 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home, followed by funeral Mass at 10 a.m. at Epiphany of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church, Monessen. Burial will follow in St. Hyacinth Cemetery, Monessen.