Franklin Park to honor patriot's dedication to fellow vets
At 19, Howard Pfeifer was expecting a baby with his wife and working at a steel mill in Homestead.
Then a South Side Slopes resident, he worried about getting drafted into the military with no say about how and where he would serve during World War II. At the urging of a cousin who had served in the Navy, Pfeifer joined the Merchant Marines in 1943 because it would enable him to support the wartime effort while giving him more freedom in his assignments.
That two-year stint took him all over the world and changed the course of his life, said Pfeifer, 90, who now lives in Franklin Park with his second wife, Nancy. His time as a Merchant Marine charted his path for decades of volunteer service for nonprofit groups that support military veterans.
Franklin Park Council will honor Pfeifer for his volunteer work on Feb. 19.
“I think the amount of volunteer work and the amount of funds that he has raised are an extraordinary achievement, and the borough wants to honor that achievement,” said Ambrose Rocca, manager of Franklin Park.
“And the length of the time that he has been doing it is extraordinary,” Rocca said.
Pfeifer serves on the executive committee of the Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II Memorial, a $4 million North Shore project for which he helped secure funding and oversaw construction. The memorial was dedicated in December.
He serves on the executive committee of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, for which he helped to oversee about $6 million in renovations. The work included roof repairs and the installation of an air-conditioning system.
Pfeifer is president of the Three Rivers Merchant Marines and an active member of the American Legion Riders, a charitable motorcycle riders group.
When he's not volunteering, Pfeifer finds time to ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
“I just think that I'm very fortunate to have the God-given ability to be able to do these things,” he said.
With the Merchant Marines, Pfeifer delivered ammunition, vehicles, food and other supplies to America's troops and foreign allies during World War II. Merchant Marines were denied recognition as military veterans and the accompanying benefits until 1988.
Pfeifer looks back on his military career and volunteer service with pride.
“Well, the biggest thing for me was the education and exposure to other countries … and the people from those different countries,” he said.
Most of Pfeifer professional career was spent in the construction industry.
From about 1955 to 2000, he worked at what is now called Minnotte Corp., a West End construction company for which he was a vice president when he retired. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in vocational education, with a focus in industrial education, from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978.
For 50 years, he has been chairman of the Master Builders Association's Carpenters Apprentice Committee, and has taught construction skills to returning military veterans.
Pfeifer and his wife of 34 years, Praxedes, had seven children. Praxedes Pfeifer died in 1977. He remarried in 1981.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Clinics go mobile to bring health care to streets of Western Pennsylvania
- North Allegheny redistricting prevented crowding in schools, officials say
- Home-schooled students from North Hills advance in robotics competition
- 9 Western Pa. female leaders honored at black history banquet
- Young Achiever: Joey Santillo
- Students get personalized approach to jobs at Bethel Park
- Upper St. Clair’s Goddard School set to open by summer
- Boyce Road closure pesters residents
- Pittsburgh Boy Choir open to all faiths
- Mt. Lebanon, Pittsburgh Foundation team
- 3 girls land role as Clara in Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Company’s ‘The Nutcracker’