Faith-filled McCandless woman accepted life's challenges
Alexis Hartung was known as a faith-filled Christian and a successful businesswoman who had a generous acceptance of life.
"Whenever we would complain to her as we were growing up, our mother's answer would be 'God's not done with any of us,'" said her daughter, Leigh Ann "Annie" Lefcakis of Seven Fields, Butler County.
"Our mother was kind and generous to a fault," said Laura Hartung Roberts, a resident of California, who added that her mother passed on these traits to her children and grandchildren.
Alexis Descaunets Hartung of McCandless died of cancer on Friday, Oct. 9, 2009, in Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Oakland. She was 60.
Raymond Hartung III of the South Side recalled his mother as being a "wellspring of generosity" — a woman who was always willing to take the time to listen to him.
"My mother was a fine example of showing me what it meant to get along with people, especially difficult people," her son said.
Born in Butler and raised on Mt. Washington, Alexis Descaunets was one of five children in the family of chef Frank Descaunets and his wife, Alexandria Hosko Descaunets, an administrative assistant at Carnegie Mellon University.
After graduation from South Hills High School in 1967, Miss Descaunets received her bachelor's degree in home economics from Carnegie Mellon in 1971.
It was on a blind date in 1970 while still a student that she met Raymond Hartung Jr., a certified public accountant.
"I found Lexie to be a charming and witty young woman, with a disarming personality. We were married a year later," said Hartung, who is now senior vice president and chief financial officer for Trib Total Media.
Prior to accompanying her husband on his numerous moves as a former executive for Westinghouse Electric Corp., Mrs. Hartung taught home economics in South High School in the South Side.
"As a home economics teacher and practitioner, Lexie had an interest in the chemistry of food, which included the making of wine," said her husband.
"Although we tried as a hobby to make wine in several of the locations I was assigned, it wasn't until I was assigned to Buffalo (N.Y.), where the grapes are abundant, that we both seriously began making wine.
"And before we knew it, it became a hobby run wild," he added. "When we arrived in Pittsburgh in 1983, Lexie entered the Country Wines competition and won several ribbons."
Mrs. Hartung became a member of the American Wine Society and was named as its 2009 outstanding member.
In 2000, Mrs. Hartung, who was employed part-time at Country Wines on Babcock Boulevard in Ross, purchased the business and operated it until 2007.
Hartung recalled the respect and admiration that customers had for his wife. "They considered her fair and honest," he said.
"Lexie was a certified wine judge, who promoted the appreciation of wine through education and her columns in the WineMaker Magazine," her husband added.
In addition to her husband, daughters and son, Mrs. Hartung is survived by a niece, Dawn Matteo of Carrick; sisters, Bertie Descaunets of Virginia and Gaye Cost of Scott; and eight grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her sister, Adele Sweeney, and brother, Frank Edward Descaunets Jr.
Friends are being received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today and Tuesday in Simons Funeral Home Inc., 7720 Perry Highway, Ross.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Sebastian Church, Ross.