A western Pennsylvania mining company has established a $1 million scholarship fund at Pennsylvania College of Technology to honor an alumnus employee who died July 31 while working in his beloved field of equipment repair.
Amerikohl Mining Inc. and its owner and president, John Stilley, endowed the fund in memory of Steelyn G. Kanouff, who graduated in 2007 with an associate degree in heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis. An Indiana County workplace accident claimed the life of the 28-year-old Kanouff, a heavy equipment technician with the Butler-based company.
“Steelyn’s passing was a horrible tragedy for all of us at Amerikohl Mining. We will all miss him terribly. I could not have asked nor hoped for a more dedicated and competent employee,” Stilley said. “From his first day on the job, Steelyn exhibited a positive attitude, a work ethic second to none, a thorough understanding of his job and responsibilities, and, most importantly, a contagious team spirit that permeated across all levels and made us all better – both professionally and personally.”
First preference for scholarship awards will be given to students who are affiliated with Amerikohl – either as employees or as relatives of employees – who are enrolled in the schools of Transportation & Natural Resources Management; Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies; or Construction & Design Technologies at Penn College.
Second preference will be for first-year students from Pennsylvania who enroll full time in diesel technology or heavy construction equipment technology: technician emphasis.
“Steelyn’s tragic death is an unfathomable loss, a life of undeniable promise that ended far too soon,” said Davie Jane Gilmour, Penn College president. “We are grateful that Amerikohl’s unprecedented generosity pays such meaningful tribute to this extraordinary young man and provides such positive benefit to the students who will follow in his path.”
For as long as his parents can remember, Kanouff’s dream was to either operate or repair large heavy equipment.
“It was a blessing when he discovered Penn College,” said his mother, Ramona. “He was flushed with pride when approached by Amerikohl for a mechanic position. Typical Steelyn: He threw himself into the job, exemplifying dedication, respect and loyalty to others, devotion and sheer love for the work.”
Mrs. Kanouff said her son’s career track was clear from the age of 2, when playtime was dominated by steel Tonka trucks and tools belonging to his father, Gary.
“From the day we moved to our home in the woods, Steelyn was never clean until bedtime,” she recalled. “Looking back, this is the stage upon which Steelyn continued his life.”
As technically proficient as her son was, Mrs. Kanouff said Steelyn’s reputation was at least equally based on his “big heart” and his character. And she offered sound advice to the students chosen for awards from the Amerikohl fund.
“Please don’t allow Steelyn’s death to be for nothing. Appreciate this scholarship gift. Thank John Stilley,” she said. “Please, please always remember my Steelyn. Absolutely always do your best at everything. As a scholarship recipient, you owe it to yourself and to Steelyn’s memory.”
Stilley acknowledged the Kanouffs’ influence on their son’s commendable character traits, which were certainly “imparted and ingrained by his Mom and Dad.”
“I am also confident that his experience and training at Pennsylvania College of Technology served to further instill these attributes, as well as provide a comprehensive foundation for Steelyn to perform and excel in the role he served at Amerikohl,” he said. “It is our hope that the scholarship awardees will aspire to the same level of excellence exhibited by Steelyn.”
Amerikohl Mining Inc. is one of the top surface coal miners in Pennsylvania, producing nearly 1 million tons of coal each year. Related companies include Amerikohl Aggregates, which produces more than 1 million tons of crushed limestone annually from quarries in Fayette and Lawrence counties, and Patriot Exploration Corp., which produces oil and natural gas from wells drilled in the Upper Devonian and Marcellus Shale geologic formations in a six-county area in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The generous gift from Amerikohl Mining Inc. comes during the Penn College Scholarship Campaign, a fundraising effort coinciding with Penn College’s Centennial celebration throughout 2014. The campaign goal is to increase scholarship support for Penn College students as the institution begins its second century. More than $5.2 million has been raised to date in outright contributions, pledges and planned gifts – enabling the Penn College Foundation to provide twice the amount of scholarship support in 2014-15 than it did prior to the launch of the campaign.
For more information about making a gift or establishing a scholarship fund to support Penn College and its students, visit or email the Institutional Advancement Office or call toll-free 866-GIVE-2-PC (866-448-3272).