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Veteran’s lifetime of generosity set example |
Obituary Stories

Veteran’s lifetime of generosity set example

| Sunday, October 11, 2015 9:00 p.m
David S. Ketchum, 95, of Oakland.
David S. Ketchum, 95, of Oakland.

David Ketchum liked to tell his daughters that the act of giving is a learned behavior. And he was the best teacher, they said.

“He’d say that it’s important to give back to the institutions that have given to you,” daughter Laura Ketchum of Annapolis, Md., said. “Like school — he’d say, ‘Even if you didn’t love it, if you got something out of it, you should give back.’ And he did.”

David S. Ketchum of Oakland — a World War II veteran who spent his adult life volunteering his time and raising money for charities — died Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. He was 95.

Mr. Ketchum grew up in the East End and graduated from Shady Side Academy before studying at Cornell University. He served in the Army Air Force and was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism, Bronze Star and Commendation Medal during World War II.

When the war ended, he joined his father’s fundraising counseling firm, Ketchum Inc., and later served as chairman and CEO from 1965-1982. Under his leadership, Ketchum raised billions of dollars for educational institutions, hospitals, churches, youth groups and cultural institutions, his family said.

He volunteered his time to work with numerous Pittsburgh nonprofits, including the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh, Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the Pittsburgh Council of Churches, Presbyterian University Hospital and the Animal Rescue League.

His generous ways “had a huge impact on me,” said daughter Louise Ketchum of Highland Park. “We learned from the best.”

Laura Ketchum recalled growing up on a dead-end street in the East End with several other families. Mr. Ketchum would load up the station wagon with neighborhood kids, she said, and drive them to a record store to buy albums or to Baskin Robbins for ice cream.

“He was the best father for a girl,” she said. “He was warm and funny, (and) he would just go with the flow.”

He was equally loving with his grandchildren.

“He was always the most supportive person, someone I could look to for help in school or life,” said granddaughter Ellery Ketchum. “He’d say, ‘You can do anything you want, and I will support you 100 percent.’ ”

Mr. Ketchum loved music — classical, opera and jazz — and enjoyed a good martini. Over drinks with his daughter after his 95th birthday, Laura Ketchum asked her father whether he was trying to make it to 100.

Mr. Ketchum replied that he had nothing left to prove. Then he raised his glass and said: “I’m just going to see what happens.”

In addition to his daughters and granddaughter, Mr. Ketchum is survived by his wife, Sally D. Ketchum; and grandchildren Eliza Ketchum-Kuhn, Melissa Ketchum-Kuhn and Graham Ketchum Halsey.

Friends will be received from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday in John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc., 4900 Centre Ave., Shadyside. Funeral services and interment are private.

Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or

Categories: Obituaries
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