Developer Daniel Thomas “Tom” Mistick, whose construction company brought modern home construction to Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s, died Wednesday at a Sewickley extended care facility, a week shy of his 93rd birthday.
Growing up in the east suburbs in the 1920s, there was little hint that Mr. Mistick, one of three children, would become one of the region’s major home developers.
After attending Central Catholic High School in Oakland, he enrolled in Catholic University in Washington, D.C. with plans to join the De La Salle Christian Brothers.
That changed a few years later after he went to work as an English, French and Latin teacher at La Salle High School in Philadelphia. While there, he became acquainted with a young woman, Agnes, who set tables in the school cafeteria, and they later began dating.
The Misticks married in the mid-1940s and moved to Pittsburgh, where Mr. Mistick took a job in a McKees Rocks lumber yard.
They settled in Regent Square. To accommodate his growing family, Mr. Mistick decided in 1950 to build a home, a sprawling brick one-story ranch on Haymaker Road in Monroeville.
One of his four sons, David, said the house received many admiring comments while it was under construction, and that likely sparked the idea for this father to start his own construction company. “I don’t think he set out to do it, but he had so many people ask about the house that it set him on that journey.”
At the time, the Parkway East ended where the Monroeville town limits now begin, he said, with little but open fields and farms beyond.
Mistick Construction began as a home building company in 1951 and proceeded to build whole neighborhoods in Monroeville and surrounding communities that were characterized by streets named after universities.
“You have to remember, he did this on his own. He had no partners,” said Dave Priselac, a long-time family friend and current vice president at Mistick Construction.
When a national economic recession hit in the early 1970s, Mr. Mistick branched out to the North Side, where the company restored more than 400 historic homes and apartments, primarily in the Manchester neighborhood.
“He was a wonderful preservationist at a time when preservation was not the highlight in the area that it is now,” said Susan Brandt, vice president of the Preservation Pittsburgh non-profit advocacy group. “He did really good work and I’m sorry for his passing.”
Now in its 65th year of business, Mistick Construction has built or renovated more than 20,000 housing units in the Western Pennsylvania region, according to the company website.
Mr. Mistick turned over day-to-day operation of the business to his sons in the late 1980s, though he would still occasionally participate in small projects. At one point, the sons got together and rented a condominium in Florida for their father, believing it would make a nice retirement setting for him.
“He lasted three weeks,” David Mistick said with a laugh. “He said, ‘I can’t stand it here, the weather’s too nice. I’m just used to Pittsburgh weather.’”
In addition to son David of Orlando, Fla., Mr. Mistick is survived by sons Tom Jr. of Hailey, Idaho; Bob of the North Side, the current president of Mistick Construction; and Dan of Aspinwall. He also is survived by 10 grandchildren.
Visitation is from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Jobe Funeral Home and Crematory Inc., 445 Beatty Road in Monroeville.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at North American Martyrs Catholic Church, 2526 Haymaker Road, Monroeville, with interment to follow at Good Shepherd Cemetery, 733 Patton St., Monroeville.
Steve Twedt: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1963.
Correction, posted Dec. 19: The list of survivors has been corrected.