Good Life

Getting to know Bellefonte’s mayor

Bellefonte Mayor Tom Wilson poses along the waterfront on Aug. 11.
Bellefonte Mayor Tom Wilson poses along the waterfront on Aug. 11.

Rarely does the mayor get to burst into song.

Those kinds of on-the-job limitations may be exactly why Bellefonte’s Tom Wilson is moonlighting with Ramalama, Centre County’s newest doo-wop group.

Below, Wilson talks more about his family ties, his earliest ambitions and the book he just finished reading.

Q: How long have you lived in Bellefonte?

A: I was born and raised in Bellefonte. I have lived in Bellefonte all of my life other then a few years while serving in the Navy and a few years in Boalsburg. I am at least a fifth-generation native.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: Well, as I recall my early elementary teachers commented on my report card that I spent too much time obsessing over Superman, so yes, I guess I wanted to be a superhero — specifically Superman, but I’ll settle for mayor. I do, however, miss the flying part.

Q: Was there a specific moment when you realized that you wanted to be mayor?

A: Yes, it was shortly after learning that I was not able to fly. Actually, I remember my father introducing me to Hugh Quigley, a Bellefonte mayor, back in the ’50s. I remember thinking, “perhaps I’ll be the mayor one day.”

Q: What time does your alarm clock go off in the morning?

A: I don’t use an alarm clock as I almost always automatically wake up between 5:30 and 6:15 a.m. no matter when I go to bed.

Q: What’s one thing that people might be surprised to learn about the town of Bellefonte?

A: That Gov. (James) Beaver was born in Millerstown, and that Bellefonte’s Big Spring produces 15 million gallons of water per day.

Q: What was the last book that you read? Would you recommend it?

A: “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. A New York Times best-seller, more than 2.7 million copies sold. A Christopher Award and American Library Association award winner. My review: Vividly gripping.

Q: Where’s your favorite spot in Bellefonte?

A: My favorite spot in Bellefonte is my back porch, but as for downtown, I’ll have to go with the obvious choice of Talleyrand Park. We are blessed to have such a beauty on the banks of Spring Creek, and the new waterfront area is going to become a town favorite as well.

Q: If the power went out and you had to eat everything in the fridge before it went bad, what’s the first thing that you would reach for?

A: Ice cream, but only because it would be the first to melt.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do during the summer in Bellefonte?

A: I love to canoe and kayak, and the Spring Creek to Curtin Village run is a good one, but summer can be a challenge with the low water levels. I also enjoy the annual Bellefonte Cruise/Car Show in June and the Arts and Crafts Fair in August.

Q: What inspires you?

A: I’m inspired by joyful people. People who are able to find joy in their day-to-day lives, no matter how difficult or routine they might be. I also find great joy and inspiration in music of every form — doo-wop till you drop.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready