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Interchange, span in Fayette County to bear local names

Thursday, June 19, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

A bridge in Connellsville will be named after a police officer killed 131 years ago in the line of duty, and a highway interchange in South Union will bear the name of a longtime Fayette County Democratic party leader, according to a state senator.

The state House unanimously passed the bill, which now goes on to the governor for enactment, according to state Sen. Richard A. Kasunic of Dunbar Township.

The legislation renames a number of highways and bridges throughout the state, including two in Fayette County. It calls for the Crawford Avenue Bridge over the Youghiogheny River in Connellsville to be named the Officer Robb McCray Memorial Bridge and an interchange between routes 3009 (Walnut Hill Road) and 119 in South Union the Fred L. Lebder Interchange.

McCray was killed on May 25, 1882, while trying to help a fellow officer, Noble McCormick. When McCormick went to investigate a report of disorderly men at a circus that was in town that day, one of the men engaged him in a verbal altercation.

The man, Jefferson Low, reportedly grabbed McCormick by the neck and threw him to the ground. When McCray tried to pull Low off McCormick, Low's brother, Bayard, drew a revolver and shot McCray twice in the chest.

Bayard was convicted of second-degree murder, avoiding execution. McCray, a Civil War veteran had only one surviving immediate family member — his mother.

In May, McCray's name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington. The memorial is engraved with the names of more than 20,000 officers who were killed in the line of duty in since 1791.

Lebder, 93, has served as the county's Democratic committee chairman for 46 years, according to records maintained by the state Democratic Party.

He announced this year plans to step down, citing the recent death of his wife, Norma, as one of his reasons.

Lebder's affiliation with Fayette's Democratic Party includes 34 years as a county commissioner, with 28 as board chairman, according to a prepared statement issued by Kasunic.

Lebder could not be reached for comment.

In the prepared statement, Kasunic said Lebder “contributed so much to Fayette County over the years,” with the naming of the interchange that links Walnut Hill to Route 119 to “provide a lasting tribute to Fred and his good name.”

In the statement, Kasunic said Lebder, born in 1920, was the ninth of 10 children. He attended Georges Township High School and later graduated from California State Teachers College.

Lebder served for more than three years during World War II. He married his wife, Norma Jean (Cole) in 1943, according to Kasunic's statement.

Kasunic described Lebder as one of the county's most influential and dedicated leaders.

“Fred was active in so many facets of public affairs,” Kasunic said in the statement. “He helped out so many people over the years — and played a leading role in nearly every new county development.”

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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