Edward James Deenihan, Sr., Age 96, passed away on Friday, May 1, 2015. He was the husband of the late Irene (Shaffer) Deenihan; son of the late John and Rose Corey Deenihan; father of John of Chatsworth of California, Edward J. (Kathleen) of Pleasanton, CA, Patrick (Janice) of Reno, NV, Rosemary (Orval) Choate of Nevada City, CA, Elizabeth (Kendall) Harmon of Summerville, SC, Margaret (Mark) Caruso of Sun City West, AZ, and Timothy (Jennifer Paige) of Bridgeport, CT; brother of Margaret Morrison of Ellenton, FL; also 14 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Long ago, while playing a game with friends, Ed Deenihan was asked what should be the title of his biography. Affecting the Irish brogue he knew from his parents, he replied, "He Do And He Don't." When asked what the title meant, he simply grinned and said, "You'll have to read the book!" Family was Ed's first priority, though his history of service to his community and nation speaks of his commitment to serve one and all. Always quick with a story, he used humor to diffuse the pain of struggles and to celebrate life and its riches. Born February 11, 1919, the first son of Irish immigrants John and Rose (Corey) Deenihan, he grew up through the Great Depression, but when asked about that time would happily explain the concept of dance cards at club socials and tell how a family struggling through a hard time would often wake to find a basket on their stoop with bread or milk or some other necessary staples. He was drafted to the Army during the Second World War. During the time of his service, he was initially attached to a unit charged with breaking an internal black market smuggling ring. After his cover was blown, and he "got the stuffing beat out of me" in the hangar of a Calcutta air base, he was reassigned to the First Air Commando Group in the Chin Hills of what was then known as Burma. Again, his stories remembered the camaraderie and laughter of 'showering' in the water runoff under the fuselage of a bomber during the monsoons, or of beating the problem of oppressive heat and tightly rationed refrigeration by securing a few crates of beer in the bomb bay of a B-17 and flying it to a frigid altitude before diving back down to the runway and a base full of thirsty servicemen. Following the war, he returned to Wilmerding and was invited on a blind date where he met Irene Elizabeth Shaffer of Mount Lebanon, PA. They were married July 17, 1948, and were together 63 years until her passing in 2011. In that time, he went to work as a salesman for Goodyear Tire & Rubber and the couple raised seven children on his commission-based salary, even as there were at one point two children in college, two in Catholic high school, two in Catholic grade school, and a newborn. "We ate a lot ground meat and potatoes," he would remember simply, with a grin. For Ed, hardship was never something worth complaining about, but simply a challenge to be dealt with. He was devout in his Catholic faith, and lived its principles of service to the community. He was an active member of his Catholic parish, involved in the practicalities of worship as well as assisting in the upkeep of the parish. He spent many years volunteering with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, even within months of his death, ministering to individuals and families who had found themselves in hard times. He helped serve the Disabled American Veterans and was a Lifetime Member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). In 2004 he was named Irishman of the Year by its Pittsburgh Chapter. He was twice elected as a Wilmerding councilman. Edward was visiting his son in Pleasanton, California, where he died peacefully this past Friday morning due to complications surrounding pulmonary fibrosis. His life was one of quiet leadership by example, and his passing will be deeply felt by all who knew him. Friends received at JAMES F. FILIA FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION SERVICES, 354 Marguerite Ave., Wilmerding on Mon. 6-8 p.m. and Tues. from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial at St. Jude the Apostle Church on Wed. at 10 a.m.
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