Latrobe veteran helped those in need, on and off the job
When she was growing up in Latrobe, Dana Coyne made her mother stop the car because she’d spotted an elderly woman carrying a bag of groceries along the street.
“She said, ‘I want to carry that lady’s groceries home,’ ” her mother, Marlene Carns, recalled. “Dana liked elderly people when she was a kid. She thought she would stop and help everyone she could.”
That urge to assist others stuck with Mrs. Coyne, through a stint in the Army and a career working for local human services organizations.
Dana A. (Hunter) Coyne of Latrobe died Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, at her home. She was 51.
Born Oct. 4, 1967, in Jeannette, she was a daughter of Marlene (Hunter) Carns and James L. Carns III of Latrobe.
Mrs. Coyne entered the Army a month after graduating from Greater Latrobe Senior High School in 1985.
Her four years of active duty took her to bases in Germany and Oklahoma — where she took on tasks such as guard duty, along with her primary role of communications specialist. In Germany, her mother said, “she was searching cars that would come off the Autobahn and try to get on the base, making sure there were no explosives in them.”
A talented athlete in her younger days, Mrs. Coyne was among the first girls to play for the Latrobe Little League, starting as a catcher. She went on to play softball in the Army and in a Latrobe recreation league.
She completed four years of Army Reserve service while attending the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg on the G.I. Bill, earning degrees in psychology and criminology.
Initially working at a facility for juvenile offenders in Torrance State Hospital, she soon got a job with Westmoreland Human Opportunities, assisting children who had suffered from abuse.
She was employed for 12 years by the Westmoreland County Housing Authority. Coordinating programs at two centers in the New Kensington area, she taught children to master skills ranging from handling finances to cooking a spaghetti dinner, while also helping their parents.
“If she saw a child in need, she definitely made sure they got what they needed,” her mother said. “She was hands-on. She was not afraid to approach anything that needed to be addressed.
“She had a deep, loud voice. She always told you like it was, she didn’t sugar-coat it, and everybody loved her for that.”
Mrs. Coyne subsequently worked for UnitedHealthcare, helping people get medical insurance and following up on their care, her mother said.
She took every opportunity to help others on her own time, as well. Her mother recalled times when she provided shoes and food for a local homeless man and another occasion, in Florida, when she turned her car around to help a couple stranded along the road.
“At family dinners, she’d say, ‘I have a couple more people coming,’” her mother said. “These were people who maybe didn’t have families they could be with.”
Mrs. Coyne was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Glen and Frances Hunter; and a brother, James L. Carns IV.
In addition to her parents, she is survived by her husband, Thomas J. Coyne of Latrobe; two daughters, Anna Coyne of Pittsburgh and Tabatha Coyne of Tennessee; six grandchildren; two brothers and a sister.
Family and friends will be received from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in John J. Lopatich Funeral Home, 601 Weldon St., Latrobe, where military services will be conducted at 9:30 a.m. Friday followed by a funeral liturgy at 10 a.m.
Interment will be in Fairmont Cemetery, Cook Township.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .