He never got one himself, but John Kriner, of State College, has been handing out Eagle Scout certificates to young men for more than 50 years.
It’s not that he didn’t earn it.
Kriner had been a Scout since about 1936 and had met the qualifications for the Eagle Scout award. “But World War II came along and the Boy Scouts organization began to fall apart a bit,” he said. “So I never made Eagle.”
The war didn’t derail his dedication to Scouting, though.
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As the longtime Eagle Scout program coordinator for the State College Elks Lodge, Kriner has been presenting Eagle Scouts with certificates and flags in recognition of their achievements since the 1960s.
And because of that, he recently received some recognition himself.
Kriner is the recipient of the National Elks Scouting Award — the Marvin G. Lewis Award — for his years of dedication to Scouting. He accepted it two weeks ago at the Elks national convention in New Orleans.
“This is a tremendous honor for John and our lodge,” fellow lodge member Bob Kidder said.
Kriner, who says he doesn’t know how old he is (“They tell me I’m 90.”), has been on the executive committee of the Juniata Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America since 1960. Over many years, he has been a Scoutmaster and has served the district offices and on various committees.
Early on, Kriner was headed for a career in engineering after having been drafted and accepted to Army Specialized Training Program. He studied at DePaul University in Chicago for two years through the program.
But as D-Day approached, the Army did an about-face and Kriner, after a brief stint in Oklahoma, was sent to California on his way to becoming a B-29 radio operator. But the Army derailed that, too, and after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima he and the service parted company for good and he made his way back to Pennsylvania — and to Penn State, where he earned a degree in education, not engineering.
After a few years away he returned to State College, teaching at the former State College Junior High School for 12 years before becoming principal — a tenure that would last 28 years.
Through it all, there was Scouting. And among his many accomplishments, inspired by his son John II, who had Down syndrome, Kriner started a troop for boys with disabilities. That troop is still in existence and is run by Penn State’s Alpha Phi Omega fraternity.
John Kriner II earned his Eagle Scout award and was very active in Scouting. He died a few years ago at the age of 53.
“He enjoyed Scouting; he was my shadow,” Kriner said.
And his legacy lives on in a troop that was begun for him by a man who dedicated much of his life to the Boy Scouts.
“I think Scouting is a good program,” Kriner said. “It helps train kids for future life.”