Battle of the Bulge vet became an entrepreneur
As a forward artillery observer in the Army, James J. Federline survived the fighting in the killing grounds of Germany’s Hurtgen Forest in late 1944 and suffered through the bitter cold that plunged temperatures below zero during the Battle of the Bugle in the winter of 1944-1945.
A member of the Army’s 78th Lightning Division, Federline was exposed to the cold as he lived in a foxhole, suffering frostbite so severe he developed gangrene in both his legs, said his son, the Rev. Thomas Federline, pastor of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Indiana.
“It was a brutal weather. They wanted to amputate (his legs). He spent four months in the hospital recuperating,” before rejoining his unit as it pushed into Germany, Thomas Federline said.
The ties that developed among those “band of brothers” during the war were so strong that Mr. Federline kept in touch over the decades with his commanding officer, Robert Gardner.
“They just spoke a couple of month ago,” Federline said.
Mr. Federline, 94, of Indiana, formerly of Murrysville, died Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Indiana, at the home he shared with his son, Thomas, for the past three years.
He was born February 12, 1924 in Baltimore, Md., a son of the late John Thomas and Mary Agnes Mulcahy Federline.
He was drafted into the Army in 1943, a year after graduating from high school in 1942.
Mr. Federline had been dating his future wife, Alice Hannon, while they were growing up in Baltimore. He wanted to get married before shipping off to Europe, but Federline said his mother’s parents wanted them to wait until he came home. They did not want their daughter to become a new bride and shortly afterwards, a widow.
The Army also made him a bugler because he played trumpet in high school. But, truth be told, he wasn’t very good at it, Thomas Federline said.
When he returned home from the Army, the couple married in October 1946. It was a union that would last 68 years.
Mr. Federline sold rubber soles for Cat’s Paw shoe. It was a time when people repaired shoes at the local shoemaker.
Mr. Federline moved his family to Richmond, Va., before coming to Churchill Valley in the 1950s. He worked for another shoe company that kept him close to home, before becoming a postal carrier in Penn Hills.
Mr. Federline was a successful entrepreneur, opening the Dairy Delite on Frankstown Road in Penn Hills. He obtained his real estate license and opened the Crescent Hills real estate office in Penn Hills, followed by Delmont Real Estate in the 1980s. It later became a Century 21 real estate office.
Thomas Federline attributed his father’s success to his love of people.
“He was a real people person. He was really caring and affectionate,” Thomas Federline said.
Mr. Federline was a member of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish and the Knights of Columbus. He and his wife were active for many years in World Wide Marriage Encounter and were auxiliary members of the Legion of Mary.
“He taught us to love our family and love our faith. He was really known for practicing his faith,” Federline said.
In addition to his wife, he also was preceded in death by a daughter, Jeanette Brinkos; four brothers; and three sisters.
In addition to Rev. Thomas Federline, he also is survived by four other sons, James (Anna) Federline of Bavaria, Germany, Richard Federline of Pittsburgh, David (Raissa) Federline of Murrysville, and Robert (Vicki) Federline of Oakmont; one daughter, Margaret (Dr. Robert) Reilly of Muncie, Ind.; 24 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Hart Funeral Home Inc., 3103 Lillian Ave., Murrysville. The Knights of Columbus will lead the Rosary Service at 3:50 p.m.Sunday in the funeral home. Additional visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Monday at Mother of Sorrows Church, Murrysville, with a Mass of Christian Burial to follow at 11 a.m. Interment will follow in Twin Valley Memorial Park, Delmont.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church, 200 Clairvaux Dr., Indiana, PA 15701, or Mother of Sorrows Church, 4202 Old William Penn Hwy., Murrysville, PA 15668 in Mr. Federline’s name.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or [email protected]