Beloved McKeesporter was devoted
Patricia Van Horn devoted her life to her family and to McKeesport, her hometown.
The lifelong city resident died Friday at home surrounded by her children. She was 85.
“There are so many things that she touched, and they continue,” state Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, said. “(She was) very unassuming, very approachable. There's a lot McKeesport owes her and her family.”
Former McKeesport mayor and Little Tigers football coach Lou Washowich recalled coaching Van Horn's sons Rud and Von Han Horn.
“We go back probably 25 years or so, maybe even longer than that,” Washowich said. “She was really a committed mother, not only to her kids, but to the entire organization, which really helped the other kids. We remained friends after that. She was very active in a number of things in McKeesport. She was just an outstanding person that I had all the respect in the world for.”
She was the past chairperson of International Village, founder and principal organizer of Festival of Trees, past president of the McKeesport YMCA board and a longtime member of the Garden Club of McKeesport.
Brewster said he has known Van Horn for at least 35 years.
“There's no question the International Village would not be what it is if it wasn't for her,” he said. “From the ground up, she was instrumental in developing it and creating the reputation it has today.”
Former McKeesport council president Darryl Segina said he was the Village's coordinator when Van Horn was chairperson.
“She had a lot of new, fresh ideas that put the Village on another level,” Segina said. “(She was) a very industrious woman. One day she came to me and said, ‘How about we do something at winter time and call it Festival of Trees?' I said, ‘OK, let's sit down and plan this.'”
The Festival celebrated its 28th anniversary this month with 82 trees at Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park.
Co-chair Pat Harris said the Festival's success is a testament to Van Horn's vision.
“There was a time when the Festival of Trees had 90-100 entries, and we are making our way back to that,” Harris said. “McKeesport had a true friend in Patricia Van Horn. Her creativity and her kindness started things the whole city can be proud of.”
“She had a lot to do with Christmas being what it is in the city, and it being so beautiful,” Segina said.
“That was Mrs. Van Horn — great family, great McKeesporter,” Brewster said. “She really cared about our city.”
Van Horn was born July 23, 1928, a daughter of the late Joseph E. and Mable Hays Fullard. She graduated from St. Peter High School in 1946, and was married to Harry A. Van Horn, who died in 1994. She is survived by her children Von and his wife Bev of Ashburn, Va.; Rud and his wife Peggy of Bethel Park; Jill and her husband Tim Mohlman, of McKeesport; Hatti and her husband Bob Topolnak, of West Mifflin; and Kelly and her husband Mark Cline of Dravosburg.
She is grandmother to Amy, Alyssa, Chad, Travis, Amanda and Ryan, and great grandmother to Madeline, Jacob, Katherine, Michael, Reese, Julia, Regan, Elsa, Aiden and Reid.
She also is survived by her sister Joan E. Gasser.
Van Horn was a member of St. Angela Merici Church in White Oak, and volunteered at Camp T. Frank Soles in Rockwood. She loved all card games, especially bridge and euchre, and was a fan of college football and the Steelers. She was a floral designer with a special love and talent for Christmas decorations with fresh greens and bows.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Angela Merici, with the Rev. Kevin Dominik as celebrant. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Camp T. Frank Soles, 134 Camp Soles Lane, Rockwood 15557; or to The Garden Club of McKeesport, Renziehausen Park, McKeesport 15132.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965 or firstname.lastname@example.org.