Patricia A. Larouere, who overcame cerebral palsy to have successful careers as a Catholic grade school teacher and at Westinghouse, died Friday at Marian Manor in Pittsburgh after a prolonged illness. She was 59.
The cause of her death has not been determined, according to Ms. Larouere's sister, Paula, of Richmond, Va. She said Ms. Larouere, of North Versailles, experienced numbness in her limbs and other chronic health issues since September 2011, when she had to stop teaching at St. Elizabeth of Hungary School in Baldwin.
Maureen Richardson, who retired this month as principal of the school, said that to observe Ms. Larouere in the classroom "was to observe a master at work."
"The children she taught never saw her disability," Mrs. Richardson said. "Pat commanded a special respect from her students. It was a respect truly rooted in love."
She said former students never failed to ask about Ms. Larouere after health problems forced her to give up teaching and that several students visited her at the long-term care facilities she lived in during her illness.
Mrs. Richardson was principal at St. Margaret of Scotland School in Green Tree in the mid-1990s when she hired Ms. Larouere to teach students how to use computers.
"She presented herself with an obvious talent and ability. There was just something about Pat that you knew this person would be a gift to the children that she taught," Mrs. Richardson said.
In 2008, Ms. Larouere received the Golden Apple award the Diocese of Pittsburgh awards annually to teachers.
Paula Larouere said teaching was her sister's first love but that she did not pursue it originally because her advisers at Seton Hill College suggested that she would have difficulty in the classroom because of her illness. So Ms. Larouere pursued two degrees simultaneously. She earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Seton Hill as well as a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, where she also received a master's degree in electrical engineering, her sister said.
Ms. Larouere worked at Westinghouse from 1978 until 1995, first at the company's facility on Ardmore Boulevard and later at Waltz Mill and Monroeville, her sister said. Toward the end of her career with the company, she earned a master's degree in education from Duquesne University, then quit her job at Westinghouse so she could do her student teaching, Paula Larouere said.
"She just really had a desire to share what she knew with others and help them learn how to do better," her sister said.
Mrs. Richardson said Ms. Larouere taught English, reading, and other subjects, but that she enjoyed teaching religion the most.
"She was certainly, above all, a woman of great faith," she said. "Her knowledge of faith was only surpassed by her living of the faith."
In addition to her sister, Ms. Larouere is survived by two aunts and an uncle.
Visitation is today from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Forgie-Snyder Funeral Home, 1032 Broadway, East McKeesport. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Robert Bellarmine Church in East McKeesport. She will be interred at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in North Versailles.
Contributions may be made to Marian Manor, 2695 Winchester Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15220.
Len Boselovic: email@example.com or 412-263-1941.