Pittsburgh Remembers Life And Career Of Late Mayor Bob O'Connor

Sep 1, 2016

Bob O'Connor served as mayor of Pittsburgh from January until September of 2006. He passed away ten years ago Thursday.
Credit Virginia Alvino / WESA

The City of Pittsburgh honored the life and career of former Mayor Bob O’Connor on Thursday, the ten-year anniversary of his death.

Mayor Bill Peduto organized the memorial on the front steps of the City-County Building, bringing together friends, family and colleagues of the late mayor. Some guests wore original t-shirts and buttons from O’Connor’s campaign.

Peduto said he met O’Connor 25 years ago, early in his own career.

“He had a way of making you understand that he wasn’t just talking to you, he was listening to you,” said Peduto. “And for a young political operative back in the day, that meant everything to you.”

The two men served on City Council together, and were eventually pitted against one another in the mayoral primary. It was O’Connor’s third attempt, after serving on council from 1992 to 2003.

O’Connor served as mayor from January until September 2006, when he passed away from a rare form of brain cancer. He had been diagnosed just two months prior.

O'Connor was celebrated as a friendly, personable, civic leader. His widow, Judy, said Thursday she’s glad his legacy lives on.

“The thing that amazes me is when a young guy comes up, he’ll say, ‘Bob O’Connor, I never met him but I know of him,’ and I’m sure his parents or grandparents are talking about Bob, and that’s just the wonderful thing, and I just can’t thank everybody enough,” she said.

O’Connor’s son Corey O’Connor is a current city councilman serving district 5, which includes Squirrel Hill. He said the best way to honor his father’s memory is to embody same optimistic perspective about the Steel City's future.

He said he often hears remarks about how unfortunate it is that his father’s mayoral term was cut short.

But I say we were lucky,” O’Connor said. “And he loved being the mayor of the city of Pittsburgh, even if it was for nine months, because there aren’t many people in this world that can say that they lived their dream.”