Former Norwin Star reporter Brokenbek passes away

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

Former Norwin Star reporter Michelle Brokenbek was passionate about writing for local community newspapers.

“She was very active and knew a lot of people in the community,” said photographer Lillian DeDominic, who worked with Brokenbek for about 20 years.

“She had a big heart and really cared about people and the newspaper.”

Brokenbek, 61, of North Huntingdon, died at home Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, after a long battle with cancer.

She retired from Trib Total Media, which owns the Norwin Star, in 2008 after she found out she was sick.

Brokenbek took pride in fashioning feature stories about people in the community. She wrote for and was a copy editor for several weekly community newspapers in addition to the Norwin Star as part of the Gateway Newspapers group. She was known for her sharp eye for detail ­— and she didn't shy away from arguing about a point of style or grammar.

DeDominic, of Monroeville, described Brokenbek as “the ultimate professional.” Brokenbek also served as a mentor to young reporters, she said.

Former Gateway Newspapers sportswriter Eric Poole of Ellport said Brokenbek took him and others under her wing to help them develop their skills as reporters.

“In a room full of journalism neophytes, Michelle was like a second mother to a lot of us,” Poole said.

But Brokenbek always made sure that her family was her priority, DeDominic said.

“Family was always a major part of her life,” DeDominic said. “She always put them first, especially when her kids were growing up.”

Brokenbek is survived by her husband, Duane Brokenbek; her children, Leah Leber and her husband, Ben; Marc Brokenbek, and his wife, Leighann; Seth Brokenbek and his wife, Jill; and Shana Tokarski and her husband, Marc; and grandchildren Isaac and Cianna Brokenbek, Brooks Tokarski, and Jayna and Alanna Leber.

Services were handled by the James W. Shirley Funeral Home in North Huntingdon. Interment took place at Elrod Cemetery in McKeesport. In lieu of flowers or donations, Michelle had asked those willing to make a contribution to take an old friend to dinner instead.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or

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