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Killian's run as Aspinwall mayor winding down

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Long time Aspinwall Mayor Ben Killian stands on Commercial Avenue in front of his office at the police station.

Ben Killian grew up in Lawrenceville but frequently came to Aspinwall to catch a bus to the Veterans Administration hospital to visit his uncle.

While waiting, he grew to love the community and what it had to offer.

“I knew they had a really nice playground and all that, and I said I always liked this town,” Killian said.

Killian's service to the community began soon after he moved to the borough in 1963 and will conclude in a formal capacity on Monday, when his last term as mayor officially ends.

Killian, a Republican, will be replaced by current Councilman Joe Giuffre, a Democrat.

Killian, 83, moved to Aspinwall in part so that his five children could attend classes in the Fox Chapel Area School District.

Shortly after arriving, Killian began volunteering with youth sports and ran youth baseball and basketball programs. As a child, he was heavily involved in sports.

“I played ball all my life,” Killian said. “My mother and dad had to come to the playgrounds and look for me to come home.”

Aspinwall didn't have many youth sports programs when he started volunteering, Killian said. He brought organization to the programs, so children could enjoy the same things he did as a child.

He was honored earlier this year when the borough named the baseball field Ben Killian Field.

“I'm very happy right now. That's the Little League field. That sticks out,” he said.

Killian also was involved in the Aspinwall Civic Association, Neighborhood Watch and St. Scholastica School. His wife, Dorothy, who died earlier this year, was just as involved.

“She volunteered for everything,” Killian said. “She was always baking cakes, bingos — so many things she did.”

His wife encouraged him to run for council. After his children were older and a new generation took over the sports programs, Killian looked for other ways to help Aspinwall.

“She wanted me to run because she liked Aspinwall,” he said.

He served on council from 1994 to 1998 and then became mayor in 1999. During that time, he worked to get security cameras with the help of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.'s office, a sidewalk to connect the borough with UPMC St. Margaret hospital and The Waterworks Mall and the Swiftreach Reverse 911 emergency-notification system.

Killian credits lifelong friends he made in the baseball and basketball programs for their help.

Tim Sheerer, who died in January, also was helpful, Killian said, through his work with the Fugh Foundation. The foundation provides grant money to the borough for various projects.

Dawn Celender and Georgene Veltri, the borough's assistant manager and administrator, respectively, also have been crucial in helping him at the borough office, he said.

Killian's family will keep him busy in retirement. He said he plans to visit family and spend time with his 10 grandchildren. He also has two great-grandchildren and one more coming soon.

Killian said he is confident he's leaving the town in good hands and leaves with fond memories of his work in the community.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to serve Aspinwall,” he said.

Tom McGee is an associate editor with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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