Century Club: A World War II goodbye wave made Louise Hegarty cry


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Many people have waved to Louise Brieger Hegarty in her 100 years. But only one made her weep when he did it.

She and her husband, Francis Hegarty, were staying at a hotel next to Army headquarters in Florida as he awaited his orders to ship out during World War II. He went to headquarters every morning knowing that if he received his orders that day, he would have to leave immediately, with barely a goodbye. So they agreed on a signal. He would wave to her from a window at the headquarters when he received word. One terrible morning, she looked out and saw him waving.

She and her twin brother Louis were born on July 31, 1913, in Taylor, Texas, the youngest of five children. While attending St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana, she became friends with Jean Hegarty, who was dating her older brother, Earl. Miss Hegarty introduced her to her brother. By the mid-1930s, both couples were married and living in Pittsburgh.

The Hegartys were married for more than 65 years, living mostly in Fox Chapel. They had five children: Karen Hegarty Harrison of Hampsetead, N.C., Brian Hegerty of Berkeley Heights, N.J., Patrice Hegarty of Springfield, Pa., Gail Hegarty Fell of Rye, N.Y., and Joan Hegarty Sauers (deceased). Dr. Hegarty, who was on staff at Mercy Hospital for many years, died in 2002. Mrs. Hegarty volunteered at Mercy and at the VA Hospital for many years. She also helped with Meals on Wheels.

She was an excellent cook and loves to entertain. Her children often joked that she should have published her own cookbook, and many of her recipes continue to be made at family celebrations.

Mrs. Hegarty always made birthdays special for her children, cooking their favorite meals and getting the perfect gifts. Her children are continuing the tradition by hosting a 100th birthday celebration at the Pittsburgh Athletic association Saturday. Guests will include close friends, nieces and nephews from Texas, Hawaii and Pittsburgh, her 10 grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.

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If you or a friend or a relative recently turned 100 or will soon do so, the Post-Gazette would like to hear from you. To be included in Century Club, send the honoree's biographical information and your phone number to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Century Club, Attn: Kevin Kirkland, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Fax: 412-491-8452. Email: kkirkland@post-gazette.com.


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