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By Jerry Vondas
Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

As the widow of a Navy pilot who lost his life in an aircraft accident, Alice Hornickel advocated for women coping with losing their husbands under similar circumstances.

Mrs. Hornickel was a member and treasurer of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Gold Star Wives of America, an organization that helps widows and widowers whose spouses died in military service.

Alice Rose Caldwell Hornickel of East Tawas, Mich., formerly of Brookline and Bethel Park, died Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, of multiple myeloma in her daughter's home. She was 86.

“My mother was also admired for her dedication to her Christian faith,” said her daughter, Marsha Hummel of East Tawas. “As a member of the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Pittsburgh, she volunteered for the church's walk-in ministry that provides food for the homeless or those who are down and out.”

Born in Atlanta and raised in Birdsboro in Berks County, Alice Caldwell was one of four children of salesman Edward Caldwell and his wife, Edna Caldwell, an elementary school teacher.

While attending Thomas Jefferson University Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia, she worked in operating rooms with Dr. C. Everett Koop, who became surgeon general.

Her husband died in 1960 in an accident at El Paso International Airport.

“My mother never hesitated to take on the responsibility of raising her family,” Hummel said. “It was no ‘poor me' for my mother.”

She and her children moved in 1961 to Pittsburgh, where they had relatives. A nurse, she began working at the former St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing.

In 1974, after her children completed their college educations, she went back to school to further her nursing education at California University of Pennsylvania.

“And in the ensuing years, my mother was employed at Kane Hospital and was a nurse for Alcoa,” Hummel said.

In addition to her daughter Marsha, Mrs. Hornickel is survived by a daughter, Glynis Jordan of Venetia; a brother, David Caldwell of Falls Church, Va.; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Gus Robert Hornickel, whom she married in 1949; a son, Robert Hornickel; a sister, Claire Caldwell McElroy; and a brother, Philip Caldwell.

Friends will be received from 10 until the time of service at 11 a.m. Saturday in Laughlin Memorial Chapel, 222 Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon.

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

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