Obituary Listings

Joseph M. Laird

November 23, 1941 August 14, 2018
Joseph M. Laird
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Obituary for Joseph M. Laird

Laird, Joseph M.

Joseph M. Laird, aged 76, of West Hempfield, PA, died peacefully on August 14, 2018, surrounded by his devoted wife of 50 years, Kathy, and their four children.

Born on November 23, 1941, in Homestead, PA, Joe was the son of the late J. Merle and Margaret (Kozey) Laird. From a young age, Joe loved playing sports. As a student at Homestead High, Joe played with the basketball team that won the WPIAL Section 6 Championship. Joe’s athletic skill helped him to earn a scholarship to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (class of 1963), where Joe “The Cobra” captained the Tartans basketball team and was voted Basketball and All Sports MVP.

After graduating from Carnegie Tech with a BS in Electrical Engineering, Joe began his career with General Electric (GE) as a field engineer in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas of West Virginia and Ohio. Joe’s specialty was Steel Mill Industrial Control. As a Senior Applications Engineer, he installed, serviced, appraised and modernized Rolling Mills and Process Lines. In an era before the internet, Joe’s expertise was consulted by engineers from all over the world, and his work took him to such distant places as Chile and the Philippines. Joe enjoyed his job, and his children do not recall him ever calling off a day of work over his 39-year career with GE.

Joe fulfilled his military obligations by serving two tours of duty with the US Navy Seabees during the Vietnam War (1967-69). Joe and Kathy were married on January 20, 1968, at the base chapel in Port Hueneme, California, just after he completed basic training. The newlyweds honeymooned in San Diego before Joe was shipped off to Vietnam. Stationed in Hue and DaNang, Joe worked as an MCB8 electrical estimator for new construction projects. Joe was still in Vietnam when his first child, Joseph Patrick, was born. The Red Cross was scheduled to notify Joe of the good news, but a monsoon cut off all contacts into Vietnam. Joe first learned he was a father by reading a congratulations card sent from his sister-in-law back home. His Navy buddies procured a bottle of Johnny Walker Red whiskey, which they shared late that night in a foxhole.

Joe rarely talked about his Vietnam service until his later years, when strangers noticing his Seabees hat thanked him for his service to our country. He embodied the Seabees’ “Can Do” attitude throughout his civilian life. A quiet patriot, Joe made it a point to visit all 50 states and study American history. His interest in genealogy led him to research and write a book on the Laird family history. A lifelong learner, Joe enjoyed pursuing his own course of study in “The Great Courses” during his retirement. One of his proudest accomplishments was that he enabled all of his children to earn university degrees. Joe was a searching man who lived out his Catholic faith while reading about the religions of the world. He found happiness in simple pleasures, such as hiking in the Laurel Highlands, working on crossword puzzles, reading, listening to his favorite music or a thunderstorm on his back porch.

Joe faced his heart disease diagnosis with courage and optimism over a challenging ten-year period. He left no stone unturned in searching for a cure, and rarely complained though he was in constant pain. He was determined to keep walking around Twin Lakes with his brothers. He appreciated the loving care and assistance from his wife Kathy, children, siblings, extended family and friends as well as the doctors, nurses and aides who helped him with his ailments.

In his final weeks, Joe was touched by the outpouring of love from his family. He appreciated his children’s vigil at his hospital bedside reading aloud from his own father’s Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. As he liked to remind us (though it was not in the book), “Ultimate happiness is not of this world.”

Joe is loved and deeply missed by his “Dear One” wife Katherine (Connelly) Laird; his children, Joseph P. (Beth) Laird, Daniel E. (Katie) Laird, Dr. Karen E. (Dr. Alex Gunz) Laird, and Kenneth C. (Devanshi Patel) Laird; his grandchildren, Penelope, Kevin, Nolan, Jacinta, Dominic, Ellie, Quinlan, Raphael, Samantha, Joseph, and Maya; his siblings, Susan (Bud) Reinhart, Thomas (Roseanne) Laird, Jean Close, Margaret (Dr. John) Duff, and John (Paula) Laird; his Connelly family brother and sister in–laws; 27 nieces and nephews; and lifelong friends.

Friends will be received on Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at the James W. Shirley Funeral Home, 176 Clay Pike, North Huntingdon. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Saturday at 10 a.m. in St. Edward Parish, Herminie, Pa. Interment to follow in Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Irwin, Pa. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Carnegie Library of Homestead or the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. www.shirleyfuneralhome.com.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Friday

17

Aug

2:00 PM 8/17/2018 2:00:00 PM - 4:00 PM 8/17/2018 4:00:00 PM
James W. Shirley Funeral Home, Inc.

176 Clay Pike
North Huntingdon, PA 15642

James W. Shirley Funeral Home, Inc.
176 Clay Pike North Huntingdon 15642 PA
United States

Visitation

Friday

17

Aug

6:00 PM 8/17/2018 6:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 8/17/2018 8:00:00 PM
James W. Shirley Funeral Home, Inc.

176 Clay Pike
North Huntingdon, PA 15642

James W. Shirley Funeral Home, Inc.
176 Clay Pike North Huntingdon 15642 PA
United States

Mass

Saturday

18

Aug

10:00 AM 8/18/2018 10:00:00 AM
St. Edward Catholic Church

120 St. Edwards Lane
Herminie, PA 15637

St. Edward Catholic Church
120 St. Edwards Lane Herminie 15637 PA
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Immaculate Conception Cemetery Final Resting Place

Bridge Street
Irwin, PA 15642

Bridge Street Irwin 15642 PA
United States
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