Obituary: Francis Wymard / Developer, traveler and humanitarian

FRANCIS XAVIER WYMARD | Dec. 22, 1943 - April 21, 2014

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Francis Xavier "Franny" Wymard was known as a successful Pittsburgh real estate developer, an elegant and outgoing man who traveled widely and adventurously. Perhaps less visibly, he devoted his talents in service to humanity.

The Squirrel Hill resident died at his home Monday morning at the age of 70.

In the real estate world, Mr. Wymard notched up successes in the Schenley Road townhouses near Schenley Park and the Beacon Condominiums in Squirrel Hill. The Grandview Towers came into view on Mount Washington after some years of struggle with authorities to get zoning permission on Pittsburgh's sacred hill.

He proceeded at age 68 to a life of service, prompting a close friend and companion to say that giving back, gratitude and generosity governed Mr. Wymard's life.

A skilled administrator and financial manager, he volunteered for months after the Haitian earthquake at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, helping it develop strong leadership and financial sustainability, living there alone in hazardous health and security circumstances.

He and his wife, Rachel Walton Wymard, who survives him, most recently donated their services for months to an orphanage and clinic in Bolivia, South America's poorest country.

Mr. Wymard also was a joyous sportsman and adventurer who set out to see the world. After attending Central Catholic High School and Duquesne University, he rose to become a captain in the Army.

As well as being a skilled squash player, he skied, sailed the Caribbean, drove fast cars and climbed mountains on the glaciers of Peru. His leadership of a mission to rescue lost climbers at 13,000 feet there received television attention by Walter Cronkite. His love of cooking was such that when Peter Friday, a close friend and fellow cook, visited him in his last days, Mr. Wymard did not fail to ask what Mr. Friday was planning for dinner that evening.

Mr. Wymard, who grew up in Point Breeze, was the youngest of five boys. His brothers acknowledge that he was the favorite of their mother, Marie. Mr. Wymard's father, Frank, died when he was a freshman in high school. Mr. Wymard's adult life also was marked by loss of his first wife, Mary Dacey Wymard, in a 1978 car accident and his second wife, Ellin Hahn Wymard, to cancer in 2004. Mr. Wymard died of cancer as well, after a long struggle.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Wymard is survived by his son, Francis D. Wymard of Hampton; his daughter, Katherine F. Wymard of Highland Park; two brothers, Joseph and James, both of Squirrel Hill; and one grandson.

There will be no visitation. His funeral will be held at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside 11 a.m. Friday, followed by a reception. Burial will be private with arrangements by John A. Freyvogel Sons. Remembrances may be made to Sheldon Calvary Camp, c/o Calvary Church, 315 Shady Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206.


Dan Simpson: dsimpson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1976.


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