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Junior high teacher felt he could change young lives

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Bob O'Leary's people skills and concern for others served him well throughout his long life.

He served his country during World War II, established a disc jockey business later in life and is remembered for the many years he spent as a social studies teacher.

Robert E. O'Leary of Monroeville died on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, in Allegheny General Hospital, North Side. He was 88.

“My father felt that the years he spent as a junior high school social studies teacher enabled him to be available to students at the most impressionable times of their lives,” said his daughter, Janet Balas of Monroeville.

Born and raised in the South Side, Robert O'Leary was one of two sons of printer Frank O'Leary and his wife, Catherine Ann Cooper O'Leary.

After graduating from South Hills High School, Mr. O'Leary entered the Army, where he served as an officer in the Quartermaster Corps, stationed in the Philippines upon the surrender of Japan in World War II.

Upon being discharged, Mr. O'Leary, with the help of the GI Bill, enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, where he received bachelor's and master's degrees in education. He taught for 40 years, retiring in 1989 from the former Monroeville Junior High School.

Mr. O'Leary and his wife, June Lockhart O'Leary, who enjoyed dancing, then started their DJ business, planning club dances and social affairs for 20 years.

“My father, who was outgoing and personable, did the announcing, and my mother picked out the music she thought was most appropriate for the affair,” Balas said. “Among their clients were Tiffany Dance Club and the Pittsburgh chapter of USABDA (United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association).”

In addition to daughter Janet and wife, June, whom he married in 1948, Mr. O'Leary is survived by his sons, Robert O'Leary of Murrysville and Kevin O'Leary of Oakmont; four grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and three stepgreat-grandchildren.

Mr. O'Leary was preceded in death by a brother, Frank O'Leary.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Gene H. Corl Funeral Chapel and Cremation Center of Monroeville, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday with Pastor Nancy Titus of Bethel United Presbyterian Church, Monroeville, officiating. Interment will follow in Cross Roads Cemetery, Monroeville.

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

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