Joe Bullick, longtime curator of North Hills historical memorabilia, dies

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Long-time North Hills historian Joe Bullick, whose eclectic collection of local history artifacts and American memorabilia is housed in the McCandless/Northern Allegheny Heritage Center in McCandless, has died, town officials announced.

Bullick of Pine Township passed away May 25. He was 87, officials announced on the town’s website.

Bullick began assembling the extensive memorabilia collection after retiring in 1996 as head of custodial services for the North Allegheny School District, where he worked for 40 years.

The collection features items representative of North Hills history and other memorabilia for the benefit of young people who may never have seen some of the items, according to town officials.

Watch a video of Bullick talking about his life and history in 2017.

Items include an eight-track player, a vintage typewriter, an antique wood-burning stove, an apple cider press, a pay telephone, a Brownie camera, classic toys as well as old photographs, maps and military uniforms.

Municipalities that comprise the North Allegheny School District — McCandless, Marshall, Franklin Park and Bradford Woods — are represented in the museum collection, which contains archival documents from North Allegheny and every yearbook published since 1954.

For a number of years after Bullick’s retirement, the collection was housed at McKnight Elementary School. But school officials asked it be moved for security reasons.

McCandless agreed to take over responsibility for the collection and built a 2,000-square-foot museum to display the items. The building takes its design cues from the one-room schoolhouses that once dotted the farmland that became the north suburbs.

Bullick was on hand for the grand opening of the museum on Community Day in 2014 to give guided tours of the collection.

Town officials said building the museum was a good way to preserve important artifacts that represent the area’s history.

“When this much history has been amassed, it cannot be cast aside and forgotten,” said Toby Cordek, who was town manager at the time.

After town officials agreed to display his collection, Bullick was asked to share his thoughts on the outpouring of support he received to create a space to display what he had gathered over the decades.

“I couldn’t be happier knowing that my collection will be on permanent display for everyone to see for generations to come,” he said.

In addition to his passion for preserving history, Bullick was an active member of the community and served as a youth sports coach for many years. Bullick also authored an autobiography titled “Put a Tent Over the Circus,” the story of foster parenting and adoption.

Bullick is survived by his wife of 66 years, the former Emma Hall. He also is survived by a son, Stephen Bullick; a daughter, Elizabeth Bender; four grandchildren and a numerous relatives and friends.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated May 31 at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Wexford.