Across Pittsburgh, thousands turn out to wish O'Connor farewell

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Lake Fong, Post-Gazette
People pack the sidewalks along Forbes Avenue to salute the hearse carrying Mayor Bob O'Connor's casket through Squirrel Hill.

They came from all walks of life, from all over the region. Young and old, black and white, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew.

They came to wish Mayor Bob O'Connor a final goodbye yesterday, gathering at a Shadyside funeral home, St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland and along a 15-mile winding route throughout Mr. O'Connor's Pittsburgh to Calvary Cemetery in Hazelwood.

Post-Gazette reporters and photographers fanned out with them, covering the events surrounding Mr. O'Connor's funeral and chronicling how he touched people's lives one last time.

In Shadyside

It was evident early on outside the John A. Freyvogel Sons Funeral Home that this would be no ordinary day. City work crews were sweeping the residential streets in this quiet corner of Shadyside at 6 a.m. Bagpipers started practicing not long after.

"I woke up and heard the bagpipes, thought of what they were for, and it made me sad," said Valerie Costigan, 23, who lives near the funeral home.

About 100 friends and family members of the late Mayor Bob O'Connor gathered at Freyvogel's -- the starting point of the city's farewell to him yesterday -- two hours before his 11 a.m. funeral Mass a few blocks away.

Just after 9, Jim Gruber and his sister, Jen, were shining the oak horse carriage that would carry Mr. O'Connor's casket. About 45 minutes later, Mr. Gruber (the owner of Cracker Jack Farms in Bemus Point, N.Y.) put on his black top hat, shined his black shoes and led his two Percheron draft horses in a three-point turn to get the carriage into the Freyvogel parking lot.

A few minutes later, the Rev. Terrence O'Connor, who was going to deliver the homily at his father's service, left in a police car. Pallbearers carried the coffin into the carriage at 10:15 and, 15 minutes later, the funeral procession, led by the Greater Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society bagpipes and drum corps, left for St. Paul Cathedral. Mr. O'Connor's wife, Judy, the couple's other son and daughter, their grandchildren and son-in-law followed the carriage on foot, with others in a line of cars behind.

Only a couple of dozen neighbors and pedestrians stood watching at first, many of whom stopped in their tracks while jogging or walking dogs. In impromptu fashion, many began following the procession, walking beside Mrs. O'Connor and her family.

Along the residential route into Oakland, men saluted, utility workers placed their hard hats over their hearts and parents gripped their children and cried. It was not a huge crowd along the sidewalks -- mostly people who lived or worked nearby -- but the effect was obviously jarring.

Lake Fong, Post-Gazette
The driver of a horse-drawn hearse containing Mayor O'Connor's casket waits for the signal to begin the trip to St. Paul Cathedral.
Click photo for larger image. Robin Rombach, Post-Gazette
From left, Maya Pelled Beck, Bess Regan and Orlee Pelled sit on steps outside of St. Paul Cathedral listening to the funeral service for Mayor Bob O'Connor. Maya and Orlee are Mr. O'Connor's nieces and Bess Regan is the daughter of the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Dennis Regan.
Click photo for larger image.

Dennis Walters, 52, placed his Steelers cap over his heart and cried.

"It's a very sad time for all of us. That's obvious," the maintenance worker from Polish Hill said, gesturing toward the crowd.

As the carriage reached the cathedral at 10:44, an estimated 2,000 people were lined up behind metal barriers on Fifth Avenue, many standing on the steps of the Software Engineering Institute and the Mellon Institute next door. One of them was David Matter, the executive secretary to Richard S. Caliguiri, the last Pittsburgh mayor to die in office.

Except for the sound of tolling church bells and television helicopters chopping overhead, it was completely quiet, eerily so for fall semester in Oakland. At 10:56, pallbearers carried the coffin up the church stairs, past two rows of saluting city police, firefighters and paramedics and into the cathedral.

-- Timothy McNulty

Inside St. Paul Cathedral

The music fairly swirled beneath the gothic revival spires of St. Paul Cathedral, where nearly 2,000 people jammed a hall built for 1,700 and too many priests to count filled the space behind the altar.

The mayor's casket was draped with a white funeral pall. Family and dignitaries lined the front pews. To one side, representatives from other faiths watched and joined in prayer. Speakers remembered, sometimes near tears, sometimes amid laughter.

And a son buried his father.

"This day is filled with a tremendous amount of hope, as well," Father O'Connor told mourners.

Bob and Judy O'Connor were what was called "a mixed marriage" when they were wed 42 years ago. He was Roman Catholic, she Jewish.

Father O'Connor, presiding at his father's funeral Mass, said it was Mayor O'Connor who steered him toward the priesthood.

"I credit my dad with handing on the Catholic faith to me. I was a sophomore in college and my dad said 'Why don't you look into becoming a Catholic?' I thought, 'Oh, I don't know. I don't even think about that stuff.' " A few months later, he said, he was baptized, and on his way to the priesthood.

Another son, Corey, talked of his father and sports -- from football and baseball to golf.

"We stuck a terrible towel in the casket," Corey O'Connor said. He envisioned his father as a quintessential Pittsburgher in the next life: talking sports, bragging about his grandchildren and enjoying a chipped ham sandwich.

"Dad, if you're listening, I just want to say how much I love you. I'm going to miss you. Next time I see you again, I hope you can save me a game of catch and another round of 18."

There was talk, too, about legacy.

Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who during his years as bishop of Pittsburgh befriended Mr. O'Connor, spoke of "how easily Bob was able simply to envision everyone as part of the work he was engaged in. He always saw the bigger and wider picture -- a picture that included everyone."

Archbishop Wuerl viewed Mr. O'Connor's melding of optimism and vision as something on which the city could build.

"I wonder if when we think of his legacy, when we think of what would his legacy be ... one that he provided us, looking into the future, was his vision of public service. He was committed," Archbishop Wuerl said. "Bob didn't wear his faith on his sleeve. He certainly kept it in his heart."

Judy O'Connor, whose name was not on the program of speakers, mounted the steps in front of the altar, took to the lectern, and addressed the same topic: her husband's legacy.

"He got to live his dream only a few months. But he did more in a few months than anybody has ever done in his life. We have to continue that for the city of Pittsburgh."

As the church's organ pumped out a recessional, the crowd filed out. On the steps, Jeannie Caliguiri, whose husband, Mayor Richard Caliguiri, was buried from St. Paul 18 years ago, embraced the archbishop. Pallbearers carried the casket, now draped in an American flag, to a motorized hearse and Bob O'Connor began a final tour of his city.

-- Dennis B. Roddy

Outside St. Paul Cathedral

Alyssa Cwanger, Post-Gazette
Archbishop Donald Wuerl blesses Mayor O'Connor's casket.
Click photo for larger image.Alyssa Cwanger, Post-Gazette
Corey O'Connor reaches out to hug his mother, Judy.
Click photo for larger image.Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette
Judy O'Connor reaches out to her son, The Rev. Terrence P. O'Connor.
Click photo for larger image.Andy Starnes, Post-Gazette
The Rev. Terrence P. O'Connor leads his father's casket down the stairs of St. Paul Cathedral, as Archbishop Wuerl leans to kiss Judy O'Connor at the back of the procession.
Click photo for larger image.

If family and friends marked the beginning of Mr. O'Connor's funeral ceremonies, and his impact on the entire city was shown in his televised funeral Mass, the next phase had more of a military edge, making a serious point about public service.

Part of it was symbolic. When the casket was out of the church sanctuary -- but not yet into the 76-degree sunshine -- funeral home officials took off the pall covering it just before 1:15 p.m. and replaced it with an American flag. As it was carried outside, rows of blue-clad public safety officials saluted as 11 pallbearers carried Mr. O'Connor's casket down the cathedral stairs to a waiting hearse.

One of them, the mayor's longtime friend and chief of staff Dennis Regan, then wiped away tears with one of his gray pallbearer's gloves. He moved down the line to hug Marlene Cassidy, Mr. O'Connor's longtime secretary. The O'Connor family stood waiting for a few moments then looked up -- five medical helicopters from STATMedEvac and LifeFlight did a flyover, with one flying to the side in the "missing man" formation.

At 1:32, the hearse began its trek toward Downtown. Onlookers spontaneously began clapping, in the same way appreciative Pittsburghers do when huffing, puffing runners in the Pittsburgh Marathon pass by.

The hearse was followed by about 100 vehicles, marked by white flags, carrying family and friends. They were followed by 30 more police cars, ambulances, a fire truck, garbage truck and various police cars from neighboring suburbs. All pulled away by 1:39.

Robin Rombach, Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl talks with Pittsburgh police officers on the steps of St. Paul Cathedral before the funeral for Mayor O'Connor.
Click photo for larger image.

During that whole time, wave upon wave of city and state politicians, judges, sports team owners, coaches, philanthropists and other assorted dignitaries and hangers-on began pouring out of the church. Some, including former Mayor Tom Murphy, stopped first to talk to Archbishop Wuerl before walking down the steps toward Fifth Avenue.

Mr. Murphy -- who twice beat Mr. O'Connor in Democratic mayoral primaries, before declining another run last year -- will forever be the yin to Mr. O'Connor's yang, and even yesterday nothing was going to change that.

At first Mr. Murphy -- who has kept a low profile since leaving office early this year -- strode past reporters, looking at the ground, when asked to speak about Mr. O'Connor's passing. Then, still walking, he said, "Obviously Bob and I had our rivalry, but it's time to put that behind us now."

-- Timothy McNulty

Along Grant Street

After finishing up some pre-tailgating shopping in the Strip District, John Damico didn't head home or even to Heinz Field for the big game, but to the steps of the City-County Building Downtown.

He wanted to say goodbye to Bob O'Connor.

To do so before last night's Steelers opener had added meaning for Mr. Damico, who sported a Steelers jersey as he sat on the steps waiting for Mr. O'Connor's procession to pass by on the late mayor's final journey through the city.

"The last time I saw him was at a Steelers game so it's fitting that I see him before this Steelers game," he said.

Mr. Damico was among the scores of people, perhaps as many as a thousand in all, to line Grant Street early yesterday afternoon to catch one last glimpse and to pay one final tribute to the people-loving mayor who died of cancer after only eight months in office.

At noontime, about two hours before Mr. O'Connor made his final stop at the City-County Building, the epicenter of his political career for so many years, Grant Street teemed as usual with the hustle and bustle of business, government and banking.

People came and went from big office buildings like One Mellon Center, the U.S. Steel Tower and One Oxford Centre. Lawyers and businessmen in suits mixed on the sidewalks with Steelers fans in their black and gold garb.

Office workers congregated in plazas for a bite to eat or a bit of sunshine. A Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership worker swept trash from the sidewalk -- an act that no doubt would have earned him a pat on the back from Mr. O'Connor, Pittsburgh's "redd-up" mayor.

But as the late mayor's funeral at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland ended, the pace on Grant Street slowed and sidewalks filled. People spilled from building after building, lining sidewalks two to three deep waiting for the hearse carrying Mr. O'Connor's body to pass by.

Tony Tye, Post-Gazette
Allegheny County Jail guards receive a wave from a passing car as they salute the O'Connor motorcade as it exits Downtown via Second Avenue.
Click photo for larger image.

And as Mr. O'Connor rode down the brick-lined street one last time, the applause built, rolling from block to block, in time with the passing of the hearse. At the City-County Building, the procession stopped and the crowd continued to applaud, simple and straightforward, reverent in tone.

As the hearse moved on, many people stayed at the sidewalk, continuing to applaud, as the rest of the procession passed by, before heading back to work, to home, or somewhere else.

Patricia Toomey, a nurse at Mercy Hospital, came Downtown on her day off with her two children, Madison, 3, and Garrett, 2, to pay her respects to Mr. O'Connor, a man she never met. Ms. Toomey, who grew up on the North Side and now lives in the North Hills, said Mr. O'Connor always reminded her of her late father.

"I just liked him. He was a neat guy, a good Pittsburgh guy," she said.

As Bill Lonero waited for the procession on Grant Street, he carried in his breast pocket a photo of himself and Mr. O'Connor taken in May, less than two months before the mayor was diagnosed with cancer.

The photo was taken at Alcoa's corporate headquarters on the North Shore, where Mr. Lonero works as a security supervisor. Mr. O'Connor was a family friend who once coached Mr. Lonero's cousin in Little League.

Mr. Lonero, of Brookline, hiked from the North Side to Grant Street yesterday to watch the procession because he had "that gut feeling I had to see him one more time."

He was just a wonderful human being. I just loved him. He made you feel like you were the mayor," he said. "He was like something that passes through your way once in a lifetime.

"He was a good man. I loved him. He was a man's man," he continued. "He was for the poor man, the rich man. There were no barriers with him."

As Mr. O'Connor's beloved Steelers took the field last night, Mr. Damico of Forest Hills was in the stands cheering them on. He usually doesn't take his seat until kickoff. But last night would be different, given that Corey O'Connor, the mayor's son, led the Steelers nation in the official twirling of Terrible Towels.

As one last tribute to the fallen mayor, Mr. Damico planned to arrive early.

-- Mark Belko

At St. Rosalia Church

A small crowd began assembling at 1 p.m., and minutes before 2 p.m., about 400 people lined Greenfield Avenue, from Haldane Street up past Community Drug on the corner of Coleman Street.

Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette
Even though she didn't know Mayor Bob O'Connor personally, Sherry Kraft, of Greenfield, brought a home-made thank-you card as she stood outside St. Rosalia.
Click photo for larger image.

Students held a St. Rosalia School banner, and one little girl clutched a sign that read, "My Irish eyes are crying." People sat on the steps of the Greenfield Organization and the Kanai Funeral Home and stood in front of Hoolahan's Roofing, Conicella's Pizza and Yesterday's bar.

At 2 p.m., after teams of city and county motorcycle police passed, the hearse came into view, and the crowd erupted into that same sustained, determined applause that had greeted the cortege along its route. Terrible Towels waved, people waved, and "Thank you Bob" signs bobbed as bells began tolling in the church.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl looked grim-faced but gave a thumb's up as a car carried him through the throng.

"Ooh, that's our new mayor," said Lois Carrico, and the applause picked up again.

But it was too soon to contemplate the future.

Yesterday was all about the man from Greenfield, and the crowd that greeted him looked like one Norman Rockwell might have painted -- boys on bikes, people with dogs, people pushing baby strollers and wheelchairs, old people arm in arm, people waving American flags, men in suits, men in ball caps, old ladies who looked as if they went to the beauty parlor together and children straining to see the motorcade between big people's legs.

Everyone who was stopped had a "Bob story," and if it wasn't about an aunt, uncle, brother, sister, mom or dad going to school with him, it was a story about his generosity.

Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette
Mickey Nugent, of Hazelwood, waves a Terrible Towel as the O'Connor funeral procession travels along Greenfield Avenue.
Click photo for larger image.

Inside the drugstore, owner David Hairhoger brought out photos of Mr. O'Connor sitting behind an orange plastic covering with whipped cream on his face.

The photo was taken at one of the drugstore's annual Halloween pet parades, when customers were invited to bring their pets in costume.

"We'd charge $1 for people to give him a whipped cream pie in the face," said Mr. Hairhoger. "He would encourage the little kids. He'd say, 'Move in a little closer so you can get me.' " One photo shows a little girl straining to reach up with her pie and Mr. O'Connor leaning toward her.

One hundred was his limit, and each year, the drugstore raised $100 that it donated to an animal charity, said Mr. Hairhoger. Afterward, Mr. O'Connor would walk down to Calfo's Hair Center to get cleaned up.

Ruth Ann Holzapfel adopted three Colombian children and enrolled them in Greenfield Elementary because of its English as a Second Language program. "When my daughter Luisa had her communion," she said, "Bob reached in his pocket and gave her a $10 bill."

Keith Hartman remembers getting a call from Mr. O'Connor when the future mayor was first elected to City Council. It was when Mr. Hartman was president of the Greenfield Baseball Association.

"He called my house and asked what he could do to help our organization. I didn't even approach him; he called me. We represented about 300 kids from the Greenfield area, and he got us a batting cage."

Philip Retenauer, an auditor for the city controller, wore an Ireland T-shirt and unfurled a flag of Ireland as the hearse passed.

"He always had time for you, always had a smile," he said. "He was such a gentleman and just a great guy. If you could pick your dad, it'd be him."

-- Diana Nelson Jones

On Phillips Avenue

Across from the Squirrel Hill house where Mr. O'Connor lived, Denise Lohr stood with her dog on a small hillside. She propped a homemade thank-you sign on a fence.

Bill Wade, Post-Gazette
Denise Lohr, who operates a dog-walking service, waited for the motorcade in front of Bob O'Connor's house.
Click photo for larger image.

Some 100 people waited for the funeral procession to stop at this point, where the mayor's hearse aligned with the mayor's home. A four-door police vehicle was parked in the driveway. One no-parking sign hung from a light post, another from a tree. Three doors down, neighbors hung a sign reading "We'll miss you, Bob."

"I became interested in him many years ago," Ms. Lohr said, "because I found out about his family, its diversity."

Mr. O'Connor had a Jewish wife and a black son-in-law to go with his own Catholic heritage.

"So that," Ms. Lohr said, "sparked my interest. I have a biracial daughter myself."

And so yesterday's congregation near his home seemed fitting. Just after 2 p.m., when the procession passed Mr. O'Connor's modest brown-brick Phillips Avenue home, the hundred-odd folks gathered there represented much of the city that the mayor led.

One woman clutched a Jewish prayer book.

Two-dozen folks from the Heritage Shadyside nursing and rehab home -- across the street from Mr. O'Connor's house -- lined the sidewalk in wheelchairs.

A few mothers held children.

Two more wore Troy Polamalu jerseys.

"Who better to represent all of this?" Ms. Lohr asked, looking at the scene. "He lived it. And just look at his house. It's not pretentious. It could belong to anybody."

When the hearse, flanked by police motorcycles, turned onto Phillips and arrived at the house, it halted for several seconds. Those in trailing vehicles rolled down their windows and some occupants dabbed their eyes.

Bill Wade, Post-Gazette
The O'Connor hearse travels along Phillips Avenue.
Click photo for larger image.

The crowd stood quiet.

"We just wanted to bring everybody out to watch," said Heritage staffer Chris Zydel.

Those on the sidewalks lingered as the procession pulled away. One woman from a nearby street called the mayor "a mensch," a Hebrew work for one who does good deeds. One Heritage resident, a registered Republican, admitted she'd voted for Mr. O'Connor three times for mayor. A Heritage staffer often saw him at church.

They saw him in the neighborhood, and so they came to watch him pass through once more.

-- Chico Harlan

Outside Gullifty's

The bagpipes and whispers that accompanied the procession gave way to a different sound as Mr. O'Connor's hearse rose up Murray Avenue, passing Gullifty's Restaurant. There, the Throwdown Brass Band played jazz.

Alyssa Cwanger, Post-Gazette
Dean Alston Jr., of Beltzhoover, plays trumpet with the Dixieland band in front of Gullifty's restaurant on Murray Avenue as the funeral procession passes through Squirrel Hill.
Click photo for larger image.

It was a four-man gig, all guys from the region. Their horns tugged at the air, and drumbeats spiked the rhythm. They played for 30 minutes, starting mostly with tunes that demanded a somber marching beat. Then, as the procession passed -- the hearse, the family and friends, the police officers -- they let the vibe pick up.

"Jazz funerals," said Dean Alston Jr., one of the band members, "are part of the culture in New Orleans. They have them for dignitaries. As far as New Orleans is concerned, a processional -- it's like going home. Going away from your troubles."

Because of that, such music must strike a careful balance -- respectful but celebratory. Yesterday, music from the trumpets and drums carried blocks from the sidewalk spot where the quartet played. Folks gathered around, swaying lightly, eyes trained on the passing cars.

When Gullifty's manager Dave Papale heard of Mr. O'Connor's death, he wanted to set up a tribute. So two days ago, he called band member Reggie Watkins and said, "We have to do this."

Mr. Papale had known Mr. O'Connor from their days together coaching Little League. Their sons, roughly the same age, played on the same team. After Mr. Papale returned last year from New York City to establish the jazz scene at Gullifty's, Mr. O'Connor twice visited the restaurant, remarking that he'd heard great things about the music there.

Alyssa Cwanger, Post-Gazette
A Dixeland band with Dean Alston Jr., of Beltzhoover, on trumpet, Rick Matt, of Natrona Heights, on baritone sax and Reggie Watkins, of Allentown, on trombone perform in front of Gullifty's restaurant on Murray Avenue. The combo also featured Alex Peck, of Weirton, West Virginia, on drums.
Click photo for larger image.

Around lunchtime yesterday, the Throwdown Brass Band sat at a Gullifty's table and waited. They sat and smoked. One drank a beer. A bar television broadcast the beginning of the mayor's winding journey through Pittsburgh.

"What a great loss, a devastating loss," Mr. Watkins said. "You know? It doesn't take a political analyst to know he was a great guy."

"I'm gonna play my heart out for him," Mr. Alston said moments later.

Mr. Alston had lived from 1994 until 2000 in New Orleans, attending college there and picking up many of the city's musical inspirations.

When the procession turned into Squirrel Hill, the foursome began playing. "When the Saints Go Marching In." Then, "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."

"For a moment," Mr. Alston said afterward, "it seemed like everything stopped. No one was talking. Nobody said a word."

Then the procession rolled away. Onlookers returned to their stores and cars. Regular traffic turned back onto the main streets.

And the vibe picked up.

-- Chico Harlan

Outside the coffee shop

In the Forbes Avenue business district of Squirrel Hill, it seemed everyone had a Bob O'Connor story.

Joel Sigal, owner of Little's Shoes, said he had known the mayor for 20 years, ever since Mr. Sigal's family had bought the store.

He particularly remembered one day when Mr. O'Connor had just announced he was running for mayor.

"He came by, and I looked down, and -- his shoes! -- his shoes were all scuffed up one side and down the other. I said, 'Bob, if you're going to run for mayor, you've got to come in and get new shoes.' So I took him inside, and he did."

Like other business owners and residents, Mr. Sigal was lingering outside in the warm weather long before the first motorcycle officers roared up the street.

Lake Fong, Post-Gazette
Lisa Chotiner, right, and co-worker Alisa Caplan watch the funeral procession pass them on Forbes Avenue. "Everybody loves him on the street," Caplan said. The women work at Cheryl W Jewelry.
Click photo for larger image.

When the funeral procession finally arrived about 2:20, people surged toward the curb, clustering around parking meters adorned with shiny black ribbons. "God bless you," several people called out as Mr. O'Connor's hearse passed by. Others clapped, and many waved.

Standing by herself, a somber Rosalie Caplan said she had known Mr. O'Connor since the days when his wife, Judy, dated her partner, Mark Witt, at Allderdice High School.

"He just had that charisma, and that's why the city adored him," she said. "I've watched his career from the beginning, and I think he always had it in him to be the mayor of Pittsburgh. His death, it was too soon. I just hope now that he's gone, that the politicians won't start fighting with each other [over his succession], because that's not what he would have wanted."

Dan Faiello, a city public works employee, was one of the first to set up a lawn chair along Forbes.

He grew up in Greenfield with Mr. O'Connor, and remembered him primarily because the mayor was a boxing fan, and Mr. Faiello was an amateur and professional featherweight.

"Whenever I had a fight, he was there cheering me on. And in later years, he always made a point of coming up and saying hi if he saw me. I mean, he was a Greenfield guy who did well."

"He was a true Pittsburgher, and I mean that in the best sense," added Bill Swoope, co-owner of Coffee Tree Roasters, where Mr. O'Connor would often spend a Saturday morning or weekday evening, sipping cappuccino at an outdoor table. "He grew up here and he really cared about this city."

The Rev. Kathy Clark, a Methodist minister who works for Church World Service, remembered a concrete instance of that.

One day years ago, her son was riding his bicycle up a pathway in Schenley Park when he was unseated by a gray cable that was strung across the path and was nearly invisible against the asphalt.

She called up Mr. O'Connor's City Council office, "and within 24 hours, he had a big orange barrel there with the chain attached to that. I thought, now that's city service."

With Mr. O'Connor, "What you saw was what you got," added her friend, Pat Morgan, the new music director at the Community of Reconciliation in Oakland. "It was a rare transparency among local politicians."

Ray Baysura, a city street sweeper, remembered an event in June at a Veterans Affairs building on Highland Drive in Lincoln-Lemington, when Mr. O'Connor visited to thank Mr. Baysura's son and other volunteers for painting a mural in the physical therapy room.

"Looking back on it, he seemed tired, kind of worn down," he said. "I just figured he was always on the go."

That's the image that Helene Weiner of Squirrel Hill had of Mr. O'Connor. "I've known him for years, and when he finally became mayor, the main thing I remember is how he would seem to be in 20 places in one day, getting things done."

Like so many other Pittsburghers, Ms. Clark said that she knew Mr. O'Connor "in passing," not as a close friend. But that didn't matter.

"He always seemed very interested in whatever you were doing. He was very present -- and presence is everything."

-- Mark Roth


Correction/Clarification: (Published Sept. 9, 2006) Rosalie Caplan and Mark Witt are partners, not husband and wife. This story as originally published on Sept. 8, 2006 about people watching Mayor Bob O'Connor's funeral procession incorrectly stated their marital status.Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette
An official portrait of Mayor O'Connor is surrounded by flowers during his funeral service at St. Paul Cathedral.
Click photo for larger image.


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