Franklin Park markers honor 'one of our own'

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Gen. Robert G. Woodside was a leader in war and a leader in peace, Franklin Park Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said.

“He was a man of many accomplishments,” Mr. O’Keefe said. “His life reminds us what one man can achieve.”

Gen. Woodside, who had successful careers as a soldier, lawyer and officeholder, was honored recently by Allegheny County veterans, borough officials and local business people outside the landmark house he built in 1935.

Two commemorative markers saluting the general’s attainments were unveiled Aug. 26.

About 40 people gathered for the afternoon program at Gen. Woodside’s former home. The building has long been known as The Stone Mansion and served as the location for several restaurants. Recently it was converted into the newest Schellhaas Funeral Home.

The new markers will remind residents that “history doesn’t just happen in far-off places but can happen close to home with family, friends and neighbors,” borough historian Debbie Rabold told the crowd. Mr. O’Keefe echoed that sentiment, describing Gen. Woodside as “one of our own.”

Gen. Woodside, who served in three of America’s conflicts, was one of the fathers of the Veterans of Foreign Wars national organization. This year marks the 100th anniversary of a consolidation convention in Pittsburgh that created the modern VFW. The event was held at what was then the Schenley Hotel in Oakland.

Gen. Woodside served two terms as VFW national commander and three terms as head of the American Veterans of Foreign Service, a predecessor organization.

The general, who studied law at the University of Pittsburgh, served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War and in France during World War I. As a brigadier general, he commanded the Pennsylvania National Guard during World War II. His political career saw his election as Allegheny County sheriff and controller.

His national honors included being given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Dwight Eisenhower in 1954.

Gen. Woodside retired to Florida, where he died in 1964 at age 88. He is buried in Pittsburgh’s Homewood Cemetery.

Cousins Chuck and Robert Schellhaas unveiled the Woodside plaque next to the funeral home, which was donated by entrepreneur Joseph Nocito. Mr. Nocito owns the building that now serves as the funeral home. The property is at 1600 Stone Mansion Drive, on the north side of Wexford Bayne Road and west of Interstate 79. A similar plaque was erected on Wexford Bayne Road.

Speakers at the event included Dr. Ronald Poropatich, a 30-year U.S. Army veteran, who now heads the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Military Medicine Research. The research center’s efforts include trying to find improved treatment for traumatic brain injuries, vision restoration and reconstructive surgery, he said.

Among the projects scientists and doctors are working on now is an effort to grow replacement muscle tissue, he said.

Four members of West View’s VFW Post 402 served as the color guard for the dedication ceremony. Robert Eiler, a past Pennsylvania state commander of VFW, also spoke at the event.

Len Barcousky: or 724-772-0184.

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