Inspired by his father's tenure on the South Fayette school board, Frank Morelli decided to serve on the board while his children were students in the district.
An advocate for strong academics and robust extracurricular activities, Mr. Morelli spent eight years on the board and planned to serve several more years.
"He just wanted to be one of those people who had a voice and help make decisions," said his wife and high school sweetheart, Heather Morelli.
Mr. Morelli died Monday after a cardiac incident. He was 45.
He initially ran for the South Fayette school board to give to his three children the same experience his father gave to him. "My husband really admired the work he did," Ms. Morelli said. "He wanted to give something back."
Mr. Morelli planned to continue to seek re-election until his daughter, Isabella, graduated high school.
"What he wanted was to make South Fayette for us the place that he grew up with," said Mr. Morelli's oldest son, A.J., who was scheduled to graduate from Allegheny College this week.
Mr. Morelli moved to South Fayette from Beechview in fifth grade and started dating Heather his senior year of high school.
A multisport athlete, Mr. Morelli attended West Virginia University and was a three-year letterwinner as an offensive lineman for the West Virginia football team.
He played in three bowl games with the Mountaineers, including the 1989 Fiesta Bowl between undefeated Notre Dame and undefeated West Virginia in what ended up being a de facto national championship game won by the Fighting Irish.
A neck injury ended his playing career during his senior year, though it was not an injury that continued to bother him after college.
He married Ms. Morelli in May 1991, shortly after graduating from West Virginia.
He worked as a sales representative for TEVA Pharmaceuticals.
"As an elected official and member of the board of directors, Frank Morelli exemplified servant leadership and volunteered his time and talents on behalf of all children," South Fayette superintendent Bille Rondinelli said in the message sent to parents, according to The Almanac. "Frank placed the highest priority on academics and always commented on how proud he is of the district's progress and growth."
Since her husband's death, Ms. Morelli said the family has been overwhelmed by the community's support.
"It's just very hard," she said. "I can't express enough, the gratitude that my family feels for the amazing support and community that has surrounded us at this very difficult time."
Mr. Morelli is survived by his wife, his children -- A.J., Frank and Isabella -- one brother, two sisters and several in-laws, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
Visitation is today from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. at the Warchol Funeral Home Inc., 3060 Washington Pike, Bridgeville. The funeral service is noon Monday at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, McMurray.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1969 and Twitter @msanserino.