Thomas Kearney, a Lawrenceville native who served in three branches of the U.S. military in and after World War II and later in Korea, died Tuesday in Michigan. He was 88.
Mr. Kearney served in the Navy during World War II, first on a battleship and later on a minesweeper.
After the war he couldn't find work, so he enlisted in the Army and served in Japan as part of the occupation forces.
In 1950, he joined the Air Force and went to Korea, where he worked in maintenance in Seoul.
He ended up on an Air Force base in Michigan when he came back to the U.S. and spent much of his life in that state, living in a suburb of Detroit and working for the American Can Co. for 20 years before moving back to Pittsburgh in the late 1980s.
He later returned to Michigan to help care for his wife's sick aunt.
Born in Lawrenceville in 1924, Mr. Kearney grew up in a big Catholic family with 10 siblings. When the war came, three of his brothers served: Bill in the Navy in the Pacific; Henry in the 101st Airborne in Italy and on D-Day; and Robert, also in the 101st Airborne, killed in combat in the Philippines in 1945.
Thomas served on a battleship off Normandy in 1944, where his family said he suffered hearing loss from the firing of the ship's massive guns. He later got sick and was reassigned to a minesweeper in the Atlantic, where he spent the rest of the war.
When he came back to Lawrenceville, jobs were scarce, so he signed up for the Army and shipped off for Japan.
His family wasn't sure where he served, but said he came away impressed by the Japanese.
"He said they were very honorable people, very proud people," recalled his nephew, Patrick Kearney of Kennedy.
He came home in 1948, but the job picture was no better, so in 1950 he joined the Air Force and went to Korea for two years. His brother Jack also served in Korea.
After returning in 1952 to the U.S., Mr. Kearney met his wife, Rosemary, in Michigan. They married and briefly moved back to Western Pennsylvania, where Mr. Kearney worked as a laborer in building the Shippingport atomic plant.
After a few years, they moved back to Michigan and Mr. Kearney went to work at the cannery.
The couple had no children. After two decades in Michigan, they moved to Wilkins to be close to Mr. Kearney's relatives, then returned to Michigan in 1988.
His wife died in 2007. After breaking his hip about six weeks ago, Mr. Kearney's condition deteriorated and he died at an assisted-living facility.
His nephew flew his body back to Pittsburgh for the funeral, which is what his uncle had wanted.
"He made the arrangements to be flown back here," Patrick said. "He wanted to be buried here."
Mr. Kearney is survived by three sisters: Helen of Pittsburgh; Theresa of Wilkins; and Kathleen of Penn Hills.
A service will be held today at St. John Fisher Church in Churchill followed by burial at Good Shepherd Cemetery in Monroeville.
Torsten Ove: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1510.