Manus O’Donnell could have chosen any city in the United States when he decided to leave his native Ireland in 1964 at 18.
But he picked Pittsburgh as his new home because it provided the best opportunity to use his skills in engineering and metal manufacturing, his son said.
“Life was very difficult for my dad while growing up in Ireland, so when he and a friend decided to come to the U.S., they wanted to live someplace where they felt a lot of opportunity existed, so they picked Pittsburgh,” said Mr. O’Donnell’s son, Tim O’Donnell of Evans City.
Manus “Mac” O’Donnell of Adams, Butler County, died on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. He was 69.
When he arrived in Pittsburgh, Mr. O’Donnell settled in the North Side and took a job working for the Miller Printing Machinery Co. He met his future wife when she answered the door of a North Side home where an apartment was available to rent.
“They dated for several years, but he really got homesick and went back to England, where his family had moved,” O’Donnell said. “He was only there a few months before deciding to return to Pittsburgh and reconnect with my mother.”
Mr. O’Donnell served in the Army, where he attained the rank of sergeant. After his discharge, he worked for a microscope manufacturer in Ross before starting a company in 1976, Ashby Manufacturing, which provides custom manufacturing.
“My father said if he was going to work so hard, he might as well do it for himself, so he decided to start his own business,” O’Donnell said.
The company was relocated to Cranberry in 1980, O’Donnell said.
“My dad wanted to move the family out of the city, and Cranberry was the country,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell described his father as a “stoic, serious-minded guy” who devoted his life to family, church and work.
Mr. O’Donnell was preceded in death by his wife of 31 years, the former Patricia Ann Woodard, who passed away in 2001.
In addition to his son Tim, Mr. O’Donnell is survived by two other children, Sally Martin of Butler and Kevin O’Donnell of Freedom, and five grandchildren.
Mr. O’Donnell also is survived by five siblings: Charles O’Donnell of Australia, and Sue Fagan, Bridget Walters, Mamie Massarella and Sadie Summerton, who all reside in England.
Friends and family will be received from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday and from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in Glenn-Kildoo Funeral Home, 130 Wisconsin Ave., Cranberry.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday in SS. John and Paul Parish, 2586 Wexford Bayne Road, Franklin Park.
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or [email protected].