ShareThis Page
Obituary Stories

Former Penn-Trafford teacher made impact on students, friends

Patrick Varine
| Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

Sandra Laughlin was humble to a fault, according to close friends.

“You didn't always recognize her strength and intelligence, but once she spoke up, it was easy to see why she was one of the best leaders I ever worked with,” said Lori Stripay of Greensburg, who knew Laughlin for more than two decades.

Sandra E. Laughlin of Murrysville, formerly of Latrobe, died Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, of salivary gland cancer. She was 74.

Ms. Laughlin was born Dec. 9, 1943, in Pittsburgh, a daughter of the late Roland Edward and Florence Rose (Lauer) Laughlin. She grew up in the Pittsburgh and Penn Hills areas and graduated from Penn Hills High School.

She worked for 38 years as a math teacher, first at Trafford High School and then at Penn-Trafford High following a merger in 1972.

She served as president of the Penn-Trafford Education Association and the Westmore­land Education Council.

“She had a way about her where she wasn't just teaching the material,” said Deborah Leighty, who knew Ms. Laughlin for 45 years and taught alongside her at Penn-Trafford. “She was relating personally with her students.”

The two loved to travel: In the mid-1970s, Ms. Laughlin and Leighty took a month's vacation and camped across the United States.

“We did the southern route, through Texas and Arizona, and then up the coast of California and across the northern tier,” Leighty said. “We saw every touristy thing you could see.”

In addition to traveling long distances, Ms. Laughlin enjoyed shorter trips by bicycle along the region's converted rail trails.

Stripay said that through their mutual work at the Pennsylvania State Education Association teachers union, Ms. Laughlin became a close personal friend.

“Anyone who knew her will have a hole in their heart forever because she was an extraordinary friend on many levels,” Stripay said.

Leighty said that feeling will likely extend to many of her former students.

“There are lots of (students) who came back and said that ‘Because of Ms. Laughlin, I became an engineer,' or ‘I became a doctor,' ” she said. “A lot of students really appreciated what she did for them.”

Ms. Laughlin is survived by her sister, Pat Plucinski of Murrysville; nephew, James Plucinski (Lesley); nieces, Susan Rupert (Eddie) and Lisa Wissinger (Kevin); and great-nieces and great-nephews, Madison Plucinski, Logan Rupert, Owen Wissinger and Dylan Wissinger.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. John Baptist de la Salle Church, 497 Athena Drive, Delmont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 320 Bilmar Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, or Action for Animals Humane Society, P.O. Box 814, Latrobe, PA 15650.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me