Obituary: Former Deer Lakes schools spokesman Dan Makuta loved all things West Deer
If you ever met Dan Makuta, there was a good chance he had a camera around his neck or in his hands.
Mukuta, of West Deer, spent his life photographing his own family as well as the special occasions of many neighbors and friends — all with his wife, Kathy, by his side.
“I know a lot of husbands and wives don’t know how to work together, but we didn’t know how not to,” said Kathy Makuta, who was married to Makuta for nearly 50 years.
Makuta, 72, died Wednesday after a short battle with cancer. He was born September 17, 1946 in Natrona Heights and lived in West Deer all of his life. He is survived by his wife, son Brian Makuta, daughter Pamela Cortopassi and two granddaughters, Felicity and Cecilia Makuta.
Makuta graduated in 1964 from Conley Vocational School with a specialty in printing. He was the owner of Makuta & Associates, the publisher of the Town Flyer, which has been published for 25 years. He was also the former public relations director of Deer Lakes School District and a wedding photographer.
“We always had to remind ourselves to get a picture with him in it too, because he was always the one taking the pictures,” said Pamela Cortopassi.
In addition to his love of photography and printing, he loved all things West Deer. He was writing a book on the history of the township when he died.
“Dad was just very proud to be from West Deer,” said Brian Makuta, his son. “He was proud of the coal mining heritage.”
Brian Makuta and his sister recalled when their dad would drive them around West Deer and point out historical and significant locations.
“I would ask him about the history of West Deer,” Cortopassi said. “It was always a pleasure to hear some of his stories from the past.”
Officials with Deer Lakes School District remembered Makuta for his ability to capture the ordinary moments of the students and make them extraordinary.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Dan Makuta,” said district spokesman Jim Cromie. “Those of us fortunate enough to know him knew that as good a photographer as Dan was, he was an even better human being with a quick wit, a wry smile and an easy charm.”
West Deer Manager Daniel Mator said the loss of Makuta will be irreplaceable.
“Dan just had his thumb on the pulse of this community,” Mator said.
Services for Makuta were conducted Friday.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter @emilybalser.