Murrysville lawyer, teacher loved to serve others
Walter F. Baczkowski of Murrysville loved to serve others, whether it was in his long career as a lawyer, as a teacher or in the community, where he served on the school board and was involved in local government.
“He took pride in serving others. He was truly dedicated to serving others,” said his daughter, Amy Burch, who is superintendent of the Brentwood School District.
Mr. Baczkowski, 74, died Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, at UPMC Shadyside hospital.
He was born June 5, 1942, in McKeesport, the son of the late Walter and Esther Baczkowski.
He attended St. Meinrad College Seminary & School of Theology in Indiana. He was a month from graduation and on a path to priesthood when he met Esther Denny of Erie, a nursing school student living in Oakland, Burch said. His plans changed, and the couple was married for 47 years.
Working at U.S. Steel Corp.’s former McKeesport plant convinced Mr. Baczkowski that a lifetime in the mill was not what he wanted. He taught Latin at Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh and attended Duquesne University School of Law at night, graduating in 1970.
Mr. Baczkowski became the administrator in charge of the McKeesport Trust Department for Western Pennsylvania National Bank, the predecessor to PNC Bank. He maintained a private law practice with offices in McKeesport and Murrysville.
Mr. Baczkowski joined attorney James Creenan in 2009 to form the firm Creenan & Baczkowski, PC. Professionally, his proudest accomplishment was his 1985 appointment by the state Supreme Court to serve as chairman of the Pennsylvania Client Security Fund, which decided costs involving claims of misuse, embezzlement or misappropriation of client’s monies. Mr. Baczkowski believed it was important that those clients be treated fairly, Burch said.
Outside of his career, he was involved with the McKeesport Jaycees, the Mon Yough Foundation and the Mon Yough Economic Conference. He taught law courses at Penn State’s Greater Allegheny Campus and served on its advisory board.
After serving a two-year term on the Franklin Regional School Board, Mr. Baczkowski, a Democrat, ran for mayor of Murrysville in 1991. He lost to Republican Dorothy Pack and often joked that his best memory of his political career was receiving the most votes of any Democratic mayoral candidate in the municipality.
Mr. Baczkowski was “deeply devoted to all five of us (children),” Burch said. He stressed academics, arts and athletics, and was proud that all his children graduated from college, she said.
In addition to his wife, Esther, he is survived by daughters Amy Burch and husband, Greg, of Brentwood, and Chris Clark and husband, Tim, of Woodstock, Ga.; sons Mark Baczkowski and wife, Becky, of Uniontown, Brian Baczkowski and wife, Alison, of Bethesda, Md., and Mike Baczkowski of Baltimore; and eight grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Hart Funeral Home Inc., Murrysville, and from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Saturday in Mother of Sorrows Church, Murrysville. A funeral Mass will follow at 10 a.m.
Memorial donations are suggested to the Mother Teresa Outreach program at Mother of Sorrows.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or [email protected].