Marlyn Flaharty couldn't have known how influential Tony Dobrosky would become in his life.

The two met when Flaharty, now 66, was a teenager in the 4-H program and Dobrosky was active in 4-H and working for Penn State Cooperative Extension.

Over the course of the next half-century, Dobrosky would not only open the door to agri-business for Flaharty but would also become a very close friend.

Dobrosky, a champion of agriculture and 4-H who served as Penn State Cooperative Extension Agent for 33 years, died Tuesday night. He was 78.

Left behind are Dobrosky's wife, Patricia Dobrosky, and two daughters, Lisa Hartman, 44, of Turbotville, Montour County, and Laurie Dobrosky, 45, of York, and many friends.

Hartman said her father, who was the youngest of nine children, was born in Hunker, Westmoreland County, and grew up on a farm. Dobrosky was the only one of his siblings to finish high school, his daughter said. She said he graduated from Elders Ridge High School in western Pennsylvania.

He served in the U.S. Army before earning bachelor's and
master's degrees in animal science, both from Penn State University, she said.

Over the years, Dobrosky was involved with various organizations, including the York County Chamber of Commerce, Central Market House and associations dealing with farmland issues, including the York County Agricultural Preservation Board, Hartman said.


'Hard work ethic': She said her father worked long hours and on weekends and volunteered much of his time to local organizations. Hartman said she and her sister also were involved with local 4-H activities and got a chance to spend time with their father and learn from him.

"We learned a lot of life lessons from him, like commitment to things you believe in and having a really hard work ethic," she said.

Hartman described her father as an outgoing man who loved to talk "to anybody, anywhere, anytime" and enjoyed working with other people who shared interests in local agricultural issues.

For Flaharty, Dobrosky's death leaves a void in his life.

"How my wife and I and Patricia are going to deal with not having him around, it's going to be a void in my life that will be hard to fill," a distraught Flaharty said.

Flaharty said he credits Dobrosky with getting him into agri-business by making contacts with a now-defunct feed company that was looking for a salesman.

Flaharty is now one of three people who own The Mill, which produces feed, fertilizer, agricultural-use chemicals, fencing and general farm supplies for York and Harford counties, he said.

The Peach Bottom Township resident described Dobrosky as an unrelenting "cheerleader" for agriculture who would take the extra step to help someone interested get involved.

"If he had seen where a kid had the potential and was being held back for social reasons or financial reasons or support from the family, he went the extra mile to make sure the youth was given the opportunity to be involved in 4-H," Flaharty said.

Father figure: Like Flaharty, Gordon Shive also met Dobrosky through 4-H.

Children in the program tended to look at Dobrosky as a father figure, said Shive, 65.

"A lot of times we would listen to him better than our parents because of the influence he had," Shive said. "You kind of got close to him and got to believing what he was trying to do and make you a better person."

Dobrosky taught the children he encountered to always think positively, Shive said. Plus, he taught them the importance of doing things correctly.

"To me Tony was probably one of the bigger influences in my life as far as being successful later on," said Shive, a retired insurance agent. "His personality just carried onto other people -- his positive attitude, his frankness of what you are supposed to be doing. He was great kidding around but when it was time for business it was time for business.

"He affected so many 4-H kids as far as what they have done as adults as far as careers."

Staff writer Eyana McMillan contributed to this report.

-- Reach Carl Lindquist at 505-5432 or