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Immigrant excelled as cook, coach, friend

Jacob Tierney
| Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Paula Lechner
Paula Lechner

Paula Lechner spent 10 days aboard a ship in 1955, crossing the Atlantic to immigrate from Germany to Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their daughter Christine.

“She was just adventurous. She had two aunts and one uncle who lived in Pittsburgh, who had come over here from Germany, so she and my dad just talked and decided they could have a better life here,” said her daughter Dorothy Harrison.

Within a decade, the couple had learned English, bought a house, had five more children and became U.S. citizens.

Paula D. Lechner, 87, of Youngwood died Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in Harmon House.

She was born June 8, 1930, in Neulust, Germany, daughter of the late Joseph and Theresa Dorfner.

She was an outgoing, caring person who was always happy to make dinner for friends and neighbors who dropped by her busy home, said her son, John Lechner Jr.

“She learned the language, and she got along with people tremendously,” he said.

He remembered family excursions to Ohiopyle State Park — six kids, most of them bringing friends along.

“She might be making a picnic lunch for 15 people,” he said.

She worked in the cafeteria at West Penn Power in Greensburg and volunteered as a coach for Youngwood's youth softball team, which counted all five of her daughters among its members over the years.

She was an excellent cook, best known for her German potato salad.

“Every event we went to, that's what they asked her to make,” Harrison said.

She visited family in Germany every few years but was always happy to return home to Youngwood, Harrison said.

She had a long list of friends.

“Everywhere she went, she knew somebody,” Harrison said.

Mrs. Lechner was preceded in death by her husband, John Lechner.

She is survived by six children, Christine Henry, of Pensacola, Fla.; John Lechner and wife, Nancy, of Greensburg; Dorothy Harrison and husband, Bruce, of Greensburg; Margie Durishan and husband, Tom, of New Stanton; Linda Kramer and husband, John, of Hunker; and Theresa Fannie, of Mt. Pleasant; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the C. Richard McCauley Funeral Home, Youngwood. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Holy Cross Church. Interment will follow in the Youngwood Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation or Grane Hospice.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, jtierney@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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