ALOYSIUS "ISH" THOMAS, Jr.
Aloysius "Ish" Thomas McLaughlin, Jr., P.E., 79, of Shadyside, went to Heaven on Thursday, February 6, 2014, with his family at his side. Born in Braddock on November 17, 1934, he was the son of Aloysius Thomas McLaughlin, Sr. and Mary Ellen McLaughlin. Ish graduated from St. Vincent Prep in Latrobe, attended St. Vincent College, and received his Civil Engineering Degree from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Engineering. Ish was honored as a distinguished alumnus at both schools; he served as a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Vincent College and St. Vincent Seminary. He was also on the Board of Visitors at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Engineering. Ish, affectionately known as "The Chief" by friends and family alike, lived in Pittsburgh his whole life. This past summer, he celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his loving wife, Mary Lou McLaughlin. He is survived by his three children, Mary Beth Leech, her husband, Chris, and their children, Christopher, Maggie, Brendan, and Gannon of Pittsburgh; Ish McLaughlin III, his wife, Nora, and their son, Ish IV of Summit, New Jersey; and Brendan McLaughlin, his wife, Susie, and their children, Brendan, Ryan, and Caroline of Pittsburgh; brother of Joan Fleckenstein, Judy McGinnis, Carol Provan; and many cherished nieces and nephews. Ish was hired as an estimator by Dick Corporation during his junior year at Pitt. Working up the company to become president, he was the only non-family member to hold the office at Dick. By his retirement in 1993, the company had expanded rapidly from a regional contractor based in Large, PA, to one of the largest commercial contractors in the country; many give credit to him for Dick's growth and success. During his career, Ish was a registered professional engineer in thirteen states. Beyond his achievements at Dick, he served as a member of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Board of Claims Hearing Panel and the American Arbitration Association. Additionally, he was a long-serving member on the Board of Directors at Kennametal, CDM Engineers and Contractors, the Smoot Corporation, and the Greater Pittsburgh Council at the Boy Scouts of America. He was a member of the Duquesne Club, the Pittsburgh Field Club, The Pittsburgh Golf Club, and the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania. In retirement, Ish remained active in the industry as a forensic engineer and construction consultant. Away from work, Ish enjoyed a great life of skiing at his second home of Steamboat Springs, Colorado with Mary Lou, his children, and his grandchildren. At Steamboat, he was a member of the "Over the Hill Gang," a group of advanced-aged skiers who liked to make fresh tracks on the slopes as much as they liked to sit in the mid-mountain restaurant and tell stories and lies over good food and drink. While his love for golf exceeded, by a rather large margin, his skill at the game, Ish was considered more sporting at fishing, skeet, and trap shooting. He enjoyed adventure travel, both reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in his 60s, and biking from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh in his 70s. Ish took great pleasure in helping friends and family with assorted architectural and building issues, giving himself the distinguished title of "The Maintenance Man," and he never turned down the opportunity to fix a poorly performing heating system, a wet basement, a driveway that just did not drain properly, or stabilize the occasional retaining wall. Last and certainly not least, he might have been best known as the practitioner of many phrases, described as "Ish-isms" (for example, he might describe a situation involving a balanced mixture of good and poor results in business, sports, or games of chance as "sometimes chicken, sometimes feathers.") Ish's greatest joy in life, however, was being "The Chief" to his children and "Pappers" to his grandchildren. He woke up early in Steamboat to prepare his famous pancakes, cheered at countless swim meets, baseball, and basketball games, and always presided, rather majestically, at the head of a very full dinner table at every family gathering. Whether skiing, working, or sitting by the fire, he was never short in love, advice, or wit. Ish loved solving problems, loved his family, and loved his God. Friends received at McCABE BROS, INC. FUNERAL HOME, 6214 Walnut Street, Shadyside, on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Sacred Heart Church, 310 Shady Avenue in Shadyside on Monday at 10 am. EVERYONE PLEASE GATHER AT THE CHURCH. Interment to follow in the chapel in Calvary Cemetery. If desired, the family suggests that contributions be made to either Saint Vincent College at 300 Fraser Purchase Road in Latrobe, or the Little Sisters of the Poor at 1028 Benton Road in Pittsburgh, two of Ish's favorite charities.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Feb. 8 to Feb. 9, 2014