Clerk of courts was mentor with generosity, skill

| Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Gilbert Conley cut short his time in Florida and moved back to Pittsburgh after his retirement community got too young.

“He was 90, they were 65 to 70, and he said the whippersnappers were taking over,” said his daughter, Jan Conley of Mt. Lebanon. “He's one of the few people in the world to retire from retirement.”

Gilbert W. “Gil” Conley of Shaler, formerly of Lawrenceville, former clerk of courts of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, died Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, of congestive heart failure. He was 92.

Mr. Conley, a Schenley High School and Duquesne University graduate, was a World War II veteran, serving three years in the Army in the Burma, China and India theaters.

After graduating from Duquesne with a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's in business administration, he went to work in administration for the U.S. District Court. He was appointed clerk of courts in 1981 and retired in 1985 after 31 years of service.

“He was well-respected, universally beloved, the epitome of the Greatest Generation,” said Deputy Attorney General Brian Baxter of Fox Chapel, who met Mr. Conley when Baxter was a law clerk for the late U.S. District Judge William W. Knox in 1975.

Mr. Conley hired the clerk of courts, Robert V. Barth Jr., to work in the clerk's office in 1978.

“He was good to work for ... very business-minded,” Barth said. “He was very good at grooming people to move up in the office.”

Mr. Conley was “an institution in the federal district court who will be long remembered,” said retired U.S. District Judge Donald E. Ziegler of Upper St. Clair, who often shared a golf cart with Mr. Conley at the Saxon Golf Course, outside Saxonburg.

“He would bring these characters from Lawrenceville. ... They knew every blade of grass on the course,” he said. “They'd always get $6 off me.”

Mr. Conley enjoyed bowling and loved to travel with his wife of 63 years, Loretta.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Conley is survived by his sons, Lou Conley of Wexford and Brian Conley of Shaler; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Charles, and son, Gilbert.

Friends will be received from 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in Walter J. Zalewski Funeral Home, 216 44th St., Lawrenceville. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday in Our Lady of the Angels Parish, St. Augustine Church, in Lawrenceville. Interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or

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