Obituary: Arthur O. Victor / Military veteran held key Allegheny County, Pittsburgh posts

Aug. 25, 1954 - Dec. 22, 2013

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Arthur Victor, a Green Beret commander whose career in local government included stints as chief of staff for county Commissioner Bob Cranmer and director of operations for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, died Sunday at 59.

The cause was complications from a debilitating stroke he suffered nearly two years ago that had left him in a coma for five weeks.

Mr. Victor had what Mr. Cranmer, a fellow Army veteran, called "five o'clock in the morning sense" in that he remained unruffled in a crisis.

"You could wake him up at 5 in the morning and tell him that his left flank had just been turned and he'd react cool as a cucumber," he said.

Mr. Victor, a West Pointer formerly from Brighton Heights, helped smooth relations among the county's three commissioners in the late 1990s, a tumultuous time when the county was moving toward a home-rule government.

"As we dealt with various issues, one of the main things that Art did was help me build up a sense of trust between [Democratic Commissioner] Mike Dawida's staff and mine," said Mr. Cranmer, a Republican.

Those who worked with him on opposite sides of issues described him as even-handed.

"He was pretty straight-up," said Mr. Dawida's chief of staff, Karen Hochberg, who had worked with Mr. Victor in many capacities, including the hiring of Kent George as executive director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. "I think he had the ability to weigh both sides of the situation. He was a very fair and ethical guy. He was a good person."

Mr. Victor had a military-style approach to everything, colleagues said. While working with Mr. Cranmer, for example, he insisted that the two of them visit the county's maintenance workers.

"They all said 'This is the first time any commissioner has come out to see us,' " said Mr. Cranmer, who hired Mr. Victor as his "wing man" in 1997. "That was an Army kind of thing -- go see the troops. He put it on my schedule. Likewise, we went and saw all the [Children, Youth and Families] workers. That was all Art."

Raised in West View, Mr. Victor graduated from North Catholic High School and was accepted at West Point, where he excelled.

After graduating in 1976, he became an Army Ranger and expert parachutist and marksman, serving on active duty for 11 years in Europe, Asia and the U.S.

His missions were covert, and he never discussed them. His family and friends said he embraced the military life and held several command positions, retiring from the Army Reserves in 2002 as a lieutenant colonel.

"Art always had a sense of God, family and country," said his wife of 18 years, Anita Victor, an Air Force veteran who met Mr. Victor when both worked in the city's personnel department.

Mr. Victor had married his first wife, Donna, in the 1980s and had two children with her. The family moved to Pittsburgh in 1988, but the couple divorced, and Mr. Victor retained custody of the children.

Mr. Victor then met Anita, a single mother with two children, in 1993. They married two years later, and she and the children moved into his house in Brighton Heights. Mr. Victor was devoted to the kids and tried to imbue them with his sense of duty, Mrs. Victor said.

"We were a blended family," she said. "He was a man of honor and integrity. He told the children that you select the 'harder right over the easier wrong.' "

After working nearly a decade for the city, Mr. Victor spent three years with Mr. Cranmer and then became director of human resources for the airport authority. He left there in 2003 for a similar job at Wexford Health Sources. From 2007 to 2009, he served as Mr. Ravenstahl's director of operations, then became a deputy in the county controller's office.

In his spare time, Mr. Victor also held many board seats for such organizations as the Veterans Leadership Program, the Pittsburgh Marathon and the selection committee for the U.S. Service Academies.

Mr. Victor had always kept himself in top shape, but in February 2012 he suffered a stroke "out of the blue," his wife said. He spent more than a month in a coma at Allegheny General Hospital, then went to rehab and a nursing home for a year. After more rehab, Mrs. Victor moved him into a new home she bought in McCandless. He was in hospice care when he died Sunday, his children at his side.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Victor is survived by the children, all now in their 20s: Justin of East Allegheny; Jessica Lucey of Wyoming; Paul of Florida; and Gregory, who is in the Army stationed at Fort Eustis, Va. He is also survived by his mother, Marguerite Victor of Ross, and his brothers James of Russellton and Thomas of the North Side.

Visitation will be from 1 to 9 p.m. Thursday at H.P. Brandt Funeral Home in Ross. Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Cyril of Alexandria Church in Brighton Heights.

Mr. Victor will be buried at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil.


Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-231-0132.


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