Bricklayer used skills to better community

| Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Mitch McAraw's willingness to work hard for his family, serve his country and support his church were the centerpieces of his life — and being that he was a proud Irishman, St. Patrick's Day was, too.

“St. Patrick's Day was the McAraw family's second Christmas,” said his son, John “Spanky” McAraw of White Oak.

James P. “Mitch” McAraw of White Oak, a retired bricklayer and relief foreman for U.S. Steel National Works in McKeesport, died on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in his residence. He was 80.

Mr. McAraw didn't limit his good works to the Irish. When the Polish National Alliance Lodge in McKeesport needed repair brick work done, Mr. McAraw helped.

“Our mother is 100 percent Polish,” McAraw said, and her father was a member of the lodge.

Mr. McAraw was a founding member of the White Oak Athletic Association and helped build ball fields and other association facilities. He was a member of White Oak American Legion Post 701.

Hard work was woven into the fabric of Mr. McAraw's life.

McAraw said his father would put in a full day in the mill and then do jobs at night.

“And even when he was in high school, Dad worked at a soda shop in McKeesport,” his son said.

Mr. McAraw was serving with the Army in Germany during the Korean War when his father died, and he was sent home to care for his mother and sisters, McAraw said.

Born and raised in McKeesport, Mr. McAraw was one of three children in the family of McKeesport firefighter John W. and his wife, Mary McGinty McAraw.

“Dad was also a staunch Catholic, who through the years was a devoted member of St. Angela Merici Parish in White Oak, where he not only ushered, but helped with any major repairs needed to the church building,” his son said.

In addition to his son, John, Mr. McAraw is survived by his wife, Dolores G. “Dolly” Kustra McAraw, whom he married in 1959; son, Raymond McAraw of North Huntingdon; granddaughter, Kelsey Marie McAraw; and sisters, Ella M. McAraw of White Oak, and Mary M. DiAngelo of Clairton.

Friends will be received from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Jaycox-Jaworski Funeral Home Inc., 2703 O'Neil Blvd., McKeesport.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Angela Merici Church, White Oak, with the Rev. Stephen M. Chervenak as celebrant.

Interment will follow in the New St. Joseph Cemetery in North Versailles.

Jerry Vondas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7823 or

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