The Rev. Donald Trexler was a family man before he was a Catholic priest, but his experience as a father and husband informed his 21 years of ministry in the Diocese of Greensburg.
Rev. Trexler grew up a devout Catholic and remained so as an adult, while working as a systems analyst for U.S. Steel and Westinghouse, his children said. As a layman, he joined the Knights of Columbus, worked as an usher, taught religious education classes and belonged to a Catholic men’s group.
That was all prelude to what happened after his wife, A. Virginia, died in 1992.
The Rev. Donald P. Trexler of Greensburg, formerly of Murrysville, died Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, at his residence. He was 86.
At his son Carl’s wedding, he held a family meeting and told his seven children that he had been discerning a call to the Catholic priesthood — a call he had first heard when he was in high school.
“None of us were shocked,” said Carl Trexler. “Having been raised by him and knowing his beliefs, I wasn’t shocked at all.”
Rev. Trexler attended seminary and was ordained in Greensburg in 1998. He served as a parish priest until his retirement in 2008 but stayed active with Catholic Engaged Encounter and Marriage Encounter post-retirement.
Born in Cresson on Aug. 23, 1932, he was a son of the late James Leroy and Rose C. (Hammond) Trexler. He graduated from Hollidaysburg High School.
Rev. Trexler went to work as a welder-boilermaker for U.S. Steel in Braddock and later moved to an office as a systems analyst. He went to night school at then-Carnegie Institute of Technology and earned a degree in civil engineering.
He and his wife raised seven children while living in Murrysville. He spent 23 years of his career as a systems analyst at Westinghouse.
After his wife died, he decided to pursue a calling to the priesthood. He attended Saint Vincent College for two years and finished his studies at Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass.
“The more he went through the process … the more confident he became that that was the right path for him,” said his daughter Kathryn Griffin.
Rev. Trexler served as a parochial vicar (assistant pastor) of St. Sebastian, Belle Vernon, from 1998-2001. In 2001, he was appointed administrator of St. Joseph Parish, New Kensington. He served as pastor of the former St. Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Parish, Leckrone, and administrator of the former St. Albert Parish, Palmer, from 2002-08.
Rev. Trexler’s experience as a husband and father influenced his work as a parish priest, his children said. He included references to his children and late wife in his homilies.
“He was a priest who had a family, so he understood what it was like to raise children and be married. That helped him connect with parishioners more and counsel them,” said his daughter Carol Considine.
Rev. Trexler is survived by seven children, Brian Trexler of Mechanicsville, N.Y., Janice Mazzitti of Elizabethtown, Susan Reese Hartzell of Murrysville, Kevin Trexler of Rochester, N.Y., Carol Considine of Virginia Beach, Va., Carl Trexler of Monroeville, and Kathryn Griffin of Murrysville; 18 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Hart Funeral Home, Murrysville, where Knights of Columbus will recite the rosary at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Additional visitation will be held from 9 to 10:45 a.m. Monday at Mother of Sorrows Church, Murrysville, with a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Entombment will follow in Twin Valley Memorial Park, Delmont.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.