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Penn Township woman dies as result of skiing accident

| Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, 11:43 p.m.

Nearly every Sunday evening, Fran Strane would distribute Holy Communion at Mass in her Penn Township church.

Her liturgical role as a eucharistic minister was intended to be on a rotating schedule with other parishioners, but Strane, 52, helped out on a weekly basis, said the Very Rev. Ken Zaccagnini, pastor of St. Barbara Catholic Church in Harrison City.

“She enjoyed it; she did it from the heart,” Zaccagnini said Sunday.

Church and family members, as well as co-workers in the Penn-Trafford School District, are mourning Strane's death on Saturday as a result of injuries sustained in a skiing accident Jan. 31 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Somerset County.

Seven Springs spokeswoman Anna Weltz said officials are aware of Strane's death.

“Our entire mountain family is deeply saddened by this tragic accident,” she said in an email. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time.”

Strane died at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown. The Cambria County coroner could not be reached on Sunday.

The void left by Strane's death is being felt at Harrison Park Elementary and Penn Middle schools, where she worked as a nurse, and at her Penn Township home.

Roger Strane said his wife and their son, James, 22, and daughter, Elizabeth, 23, enjoyed adventure-based activities together, such as hiking, biking and skiing.

“She was family-oriented, both as a wife and as a mother,” Roger Strane said. “She also liked to run and keep herself fit.”

The couple married 24 years ago after meeting at a Bible study, he said. Fran Strane remained “very much a spiritual person” throughout her life, her husband said.

“I'm going to miss her tremendously,” he said.

Many family members and friends have pieces of Strane's handiwork to remember her by — she liked to sew, knit and quilt, Roger Strane said.

“She was always just so full of life,” Elizabeth Strane said.

Fran Strane touched many students' and parents' lives during her 12 years as a school nurse at Penn-Trafford. District Interim Superintendent Matt Harris called Strane a “wonderful person” who was a strong advocate of a healthy lifestyle.

“No matter what the children needed, Fran was able to provide it,” Harris said in an email sent to district staff members late Saturday.

High school nurse Pat Blahovec said Strane was her “go-to person” for help within the district.

“She was a great humanitarian,” Blahovec said. “She had a great work ethic, which I really admired.”

“We're all going to miss her,” Blahovec said. “She was a stronghold, she was always the steady person. She was really good in an emergency.”

A Facebook event titled “Five for Fran” took off around the school community as page creator Betsy Sandala of Export requested that participants spend five minutes praying for Strane at 5 p.m. every day. About 200 people joined the page, said Sandala, a friend and co-worker of Strane's.

“In her last days, she brought hundreds of people together,” Sandala said.

Allan Strane of Hempfield described his sister-in-law as a happy, thoughtful person.

“She put everything before her,” he said.

Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday and from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at James E. Lindsay Funeral Home in Harrison City. Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Barbara Church.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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