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Northwood owner sailed family around world

| Monday, March 26, 2007

Leaving his realty business in the hands of his employees, Hal Autenreith gathered his wife and four children and cast off in November 1968 from Annapolis, Md., on a two-year sailing voyage around the world.

"My parents were planning that trip for 15 years, but that long-term planning is what my Dad was all about," Eric Autenreith said Sunday. "It blows my mind to think about it now, and my Mom was right there the whole time. They were following a dream."

James Harold Autenreith, of Pine, formerly of Shaler, founder of Northwood Realty Services, died Friday, March 23, 2007, at his home after a battle with cancer. He was 79.

Mr. Autenreith was raised in Highland Park and graduated from Shadyside Academy, later becoming an electronics technician's mate third class in the Navy.

In 1956, Mr. Autenreith bought a small real estate company in the North Hills and built it into one of the largest real estate companies in the area. The company celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

"Any business in 50 years has ups and downs and lots of close calls, but my Dad said if times are tough for you, then it's tough for the other guys, too. You just have to hang on longer," Eric Autenreith said.

"He ran his business to help other people get ahead. He wanted to give people training and tools to get ahead. His business cards said, 'Hal Autenreith -- Head Coach.' He was never out for glory for himself."

He was a founder of West Penn Multi-List service and was one of the first two recipients of a lifetime achievement award from the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh.

Mr. Autenreith married Sally Grace White in June 1951 after the two met through mutual friends.

In 1965, Mr. Autenreith bought a 42-foot yawl named LaSalle and over the next three years prepared it for ocean sailing.

After casting off, Mr. Autenreith and his family sailed west around the world, through the Panama Canal, the South Pacific, north of Australia, across the Indian Ocean, around the southern tip of Africa, past St. Helena in the South Atlantic, through the Caribbean and finally into the Chesapeake Bay two years later in August 1970.

Mr. Autenreith and his family stopped at many countries along the way.

"Anything my Dad did was about seizing opportunities for your growth. The trip around the world for example, we learned so many things. Some things (from the trip) I'm just learning and understanding now," said son Jim Autenreith.

Mr. Autenreith played the piano and enjoyed the orchestra and Civic Light Opera. He enjoyed planting trees and traveling.

"'Keep going' -- that was another theme of his life. Put your mistakes or things that didn't work behind you and move on -- or you get stuck," Jim Autenreith said.

Mr. Autenreith is survived by his wife, Sally Grace White Autenreith; three sons, Jim Autenreith, of Pine, Eric Autenreith, of Fayetteville, W. Va., and Arch Autenreith, of Shaler; a daughter, Wendy West, of Hampton; a sister, Sandy Autenreith Patterson, of Ligonier, Westmoreland County; and three grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a brother, Larry Autenreith.

There will be no visitation. A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in Glenshaw Presbyterian Church. Burial will be in Homewood Cemetery, Squirrel Hill.

The family asked that memorials be in the form of contributions to Glenshaw Presbyterian Church, 300 Glenn Ave., Glenshaw, PA 15116 or a charity of the donor's choice.

Arrangements are by Bock Funeral Home, Shaler.

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