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PR man was vigorous health-care advocate

Luis Fábregas
| Monday, July 3, 2006

As a longtime public relations professional, Bill Horvath was a master communicator.

"He would say, 'Just get your point across and do it briefly,'" said his wife, Katie Chipullo Horvath. "If you make it short, people will understand you better."

William J. "Bill" Horvath, of Monroeville, died of cancer on Thursday, June 29, 2006, at his home. He was 70.

"He was a man of vision," said the oldest of his three sons, Stephen J. Horvath, of Columbia, Md. "He believed that through the media and through community organizations, people could work together and make the world a better place. He was always a good communicator."

Mr. Horvath was well-known in the city's health-care public relations circles. He retired in 1996 from the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania, where he had worked for 16 years as vice president of public affairs.

He left a legacy admired by many of those who worked with him.

"He was extremely generous and a very good mentor to all the staff," said Pat Raffaele, who worked alongside Mr. Horvath in the early 1990s and is now vice president for advocacy and communications for the council.

Mr. Horvath played a key role in helping the council's board of directors understand that efficient health care extended beyond the hospital setting, Raffaele said.

"He was instrumental in helping council look at the entire continuum of care," Raffaele said.

He also was one of the founders of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging, an advocacy group for the elderly.

Mr. Horvath, who was born in McKeesport, at one point considered becoming a priest. He spent several years studying at the Society of St. Paul in Ohio but later decided against the priesthood, his wife said.

Religion remained important to Mr. Horvath, and he met his wife while the two participated in a Catholic adult youth group in Westmoreland County in 1962.

"I just liked the fact that he was a gentle, easygoing fellow," she said. "He enjoyed life, but he didn't go overboard. He was also a prayerful person."

After working for a few years at the Jeanette News-Dispatch, Horvath took his first public relations job at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. In 1969, he took a job in the public relations office at West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield.

After retiring, he continued to work with causes related to affordable health care for the elderly, his wife said.

He also enjoyed model trains, ham radio and technological gadgets, said son Michael A. Horvath of Regent Square. Mr. Horvath even met his 6-week-old grandson through video conferencing technology.

"He loved his family," Michael Horvath said. "He loved doing things with us."

Survivors include his wife; three sons, Stephen J. Horvath of Columbia, Md., David W. Horvath, of Monroeville, and Michael A. Horvath, of Regent Square; a brother, Dennis G. Horvath of North Huntingdon; and a grandson.

A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. today at North American Martyrs Church, Monroeville. Burial will be in Greensburg Catholic Cemetery, Hempfield. The family asked that memorials be in the form of contributions to North American Martyrs Church, 2526 Haymaker Road, Monroeville, PA 15146.

Barnhart Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

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