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Mayor preserved, improved borough he loved

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Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When Harry McLaughlin first ran for mayor of Fox Chapel in 1984, he didn't see the seat as a stepping stone to higher office.

His political aspirations began and ended with being in a position to preserve the things that make the borough attractive to residents, his son said.

“My dad had no personal agenda as mayor,” said Henry McLaughlin. “He understood the benefits the borough offered people and wanted to safeguard them for the future.”

Harry W. “Harry O” McLaughlin Jr., who was Fox Chapel mayor from 1985 to 2012, died on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. He was 88.

Mr. McLaughlin, a 1958 graduate of Duquesne University, was a staff sergeant in the Army during World War II. He ran a successful business for many years supplying companies involved in heavy manufacturing.

In addition to preserving Fox Chapel's rural nature and working to provide residents with a high level of municipal services, Mr. McLaughlin was a prolific volunteer who “really loved helping people,” his son said.

Among the projects Mr. McLaughlin championed were the construction of the Cooper-Siegel Community Library, which opened in April 2011.

“He was a true leader who completely understood that a library offers something for everybody and serves the greater good of the community,” said Stephanie Flom, the library's executive director.

While Mr. McLaughlin was best known for the extensive number of causes and organizations in which he was involved, Dana Abate, the borough's secretary, said she will miss his cheerful demeanor most.

“He could tell a joke or a story like nobody else,” said Abate, who has worked for the borough for 33 years. “The community lost a great leader, but I lost my best buddy.”

In addition to his son, Henry, of Fox Chapel, Mr. McLaughlin is survived by his wife, the former Zandie Gatehouse; son Gary McLaughlin of Irwin; daughter Patty Ann McLaughlin of Somerset; a sister, Isabelle Rea of Zelienople; and seven grandchildren.

Mr. McLaughlin was preceded in death by his first wife, the former Gloria Condon, and two sisters and a brother.

Friends and family will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday in Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home, 100 Center Ave., Aspinwall. A parting prayer will be said in the funeral home at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, followed by a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Joseph Church, 342 Dorseyville Road, O'Hara.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or

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