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Family honored to have Kennedy road named for son

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:15 p.m.
Sean Ruane
Sean Ruane

Sean Ruane was many things, his mother said.

“He was caring. He was charismatic. He was loving. He was helpful. He was humble,” said Marcia Ruane, 60, of Kennedy.

Sean Ruane was proud to be an airman and serve his country, which is why having a road in Kennedy named after him posthumously is so poignant, she said.

“We're honored by any measures they take to honor our son,” said Michael Ruane, 60, Sean Ruane's father.

Sean Ruane, 31, a Montour High School graduate from Kennedy, died with three airmen on Jan. 7, when the helicopter he was flying crashed during a low-level training flight in England.

The combat rescue pilot, who had deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan, is survived by his wife, Rachel, 29, and 22-month-old son, Liam, who live in New Jersey.

His sister, Katie Ruane, 29, lives in Dormont.

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, introduced legislation in mid-May to rename a section of state Route 51 as the Captain Sean M. Ruane Memorial Highway. The section of the highway is known as Fleming Park Road. It intersects with Coraopolis Road in Kennedy.

The bill later was amended as part of House Bill 2072, which includes about 30 road naming projects statewide to get it approved faster, Fontana said.

Speaker of the House Samuel H. Smith and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley signed the bill Monday. It awaits Gov. Tom Corbett's authorization.

In late May, Fontana met Sean Ruane's family at a Memorial Day parade in which his friends and family marched with a banner in the late airman's honor.

“I met his family that day…they were very, very grateful that we even proposed (the renaming). Back then, it was just a proposal,” Fontana said.

The community during the past six months has rallied behind Ruane's family, Fontana said.

“But it's ironic that he spent so much time in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and unfortunately died in a helicopter accident,” Fontana said.

The first bill Fontana successfully had signed into law was in 2006. It renamed a section of the Parkway West in honor of state police Cpl. Joseph R. Pokorny, who was shot to death during a traffic stop in 2005.

“Because in the line of duty, both of them leave behind a wife and kids and parents, it just seemed like the right thing to do to have something designated that everyone can see, and especially their families can see in their honor,” Fontana said.

The road that will be named after Ruane is close to his parents' home, Marcia Ruane said. The Ruanes struggle to cope with the loss, but they are receiving support from friends and family members, she said.

“We're just trying so hard to get by,” she said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or

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