Obituary: Harry W. McLaughlin Jr. / Served as Fox Chapel's mayor for 26 years
Dec. 5, 1924 - Sept. 11, 2013
September 15, 2013 4:00 AM
Harry W. McLaughlin Jr.
By Mark Belko Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Over the years, it was easy to spot Fox Chapel Mayor Harry W. McLaughlin Jr. in a crowd.
He was the one who drove the antique car in the Aspinwall Memorial Day Parade or the guy in the white monogrammed turtleneck and the plaid flannel pants holding court or telling jokes.
It's just as easy to spot Mr. McLaughlin's impact on the community. It can be seen in the Cooper-Siegel Community Library, where a conference room has been dedicated in his honor, and in All of Us Care, an after-school program he helped to get started, one that strives to prevent crime and substance abuse among children and at-risk youth.
Or it can be seen simply in his 26 years as mayor.
"I think he had a desire to give back to the community. The mayor before him had been in office for a long period of time and the position became available. He just wanted to give back to the community," said his daughter Patty Ann McLaughlin of Somerset.
Mr. McLaughlin died Wednesday at Family Hospice and Palliative Care in Lawrenceville. He was 88.
Known as "Mayor Harry" or "Harry O," he served as mayor of Fox Chapel from 1985 to 2012.
A biography written for a 2010 fundraiser honoring Mr. McLaughlin stated that he was most proud of helping to build relationships with other municipalities and within Fox Chapel government itself.
During his tenure, he formed a mayor's association that involved monthly meetings with the mayors and police in six municipalities and also cultivated relations and support between Fox Chapel police, fire and EMS units.
Mr. McLaughlin may be remembered more for his work in helping to build Cooper-Siegel Community Library, which opened in 2011. While the facility is located in Fox Chapel, it also serves the communities of O'Hara, Aspinwall, Blawnox, Indiana and Sharpsburg. All are part of the Fox Chapel Area School District.
Mr. McLaughlin helped to lead the effort to get the library built and to raise the money needed for it, both in his capacity as mayor and as a member and president of the Community Center and Library Association.
Stephanie Flom, executive director of the Community Center and Library Association, called Mr. McLaughlin "a great leader and a great motivator" of others.
She said Mr. McLaughlin was very instrumental in setting the vision for the project and rallying and inspiring others with motivational speeches about the importance of the library. He also helped to raise money for the building. For his efforts, a library conference room was dedicated in his honor last year.
While Mr. McLaughlin was an avid reader who owned his own e-reader, his devotion to the library's cause went well beyond self-interest, Ms. Flom said.
"For him, his passion truly was serving the community," she said.
The library wasn't the only way he did that. Mr. McLaughlin was co-founder of All of Us Care, the after-school program for youngsters based in Sharpsburg.
An ardent golfer, Mr. McLaughlin also was involved in raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through the annual Leukemia Open golf tournament.
In 1995, he established the "McLaughlin Cup," a yearly Ryder Cup-type event for members of the Fox Chapel Golf Club, Longue Vue Club, Oakmont Country Club and Pittsburgh Field Club who are ages 50 or over. The event raises money for charities such as All of Us Care and the ALS Association.
"He kind of combined two passions. He combined his love for the game of golf with his desire to give back to the community," Ms. McLaughlin said.
Outside of political and charity work, Mr. McLaughlin owned his own business, the H.W. McLaughlin Co., for many years. It served as a sales representative for products, mostly steel related, manufactured by a number of companies.
Born in 1924, Mr. McLaughlin grew up in Aspinwall and graduated from Aspinwall High School. He served as a staff sergeant in the Army during World War II.
After returning home, he earned a bachelor's degree from Duquesne University and worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before starting his own business.
For all of his accomplishments, Mr. McLaughlin also was known for his lighter side, one manifested in his joke telling, those monogrammed turtlenecks and plaid "pajama pants," and a warm smile.
"He loved to play golf. He loved to tell jokes. He just had that personality that was magnetic to everybody," Ms. McLaughlin said.
In addition to his daughter Patty Ann, Mr. McLaughlin is survived by his wife, Zandie; two sons, Henry "Duke" McLaughlin III of Fox Chapel and Gary Michael "Smokey" McLaughlin of North Huntingdon; a sister, Isabelle Rea of Hermitage, Mercer County; and seven grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife of more than 50 years, Gloria; two sisters, Mary Catherine Gallagher and Margaret Bullen; and a brother, John McLaughlin.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home, 100 Center Ave., Aspinwall. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph Church, O'Hara.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions may be made to All of Us Care, 1650 Main Street, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15215.