Roy A. Weslager / Beloved pianist for Kane patients
July 19, 1926 – Jan. 6, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
By Linda Wilson Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When childhood health problems kept him out of school for long periods of time, Roy A. Weslager taught himself to play the piano. That skill would bring joy to many, especially after 1983, when he retired from the LTV steel plant and began making weekly visits to play for patients at the Kane Regional Center in Scott.
He played almost up to the day he died at the center — Saturday. Mr. Weslager, 80, had been a patient there for two months. He was being treated for complications following surgery in October.
“My father never did learn to read music, but if you sang him a song, he could play it,” said his daughter, Nancy Hale of Castle Shannon.
Mr. Weslager played at Kane on Thursdays for more than 20 years, very seldom missing a day. “Everybody loved him — patients and staff. The women would fight over who would sit next to him,” said Sally Finley of Bethel Park, who sings and dances with a group called The Kane Entertainers. Mr. Weslager was their accompanist.
Mr. Weslager grew up in Mount Washington. He and his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth, raised their children in Castle Shannon and moved to Bethel Park when he retired.
Mr. Weslager provided the piano playing and more for The Kane Entertainers.
“He played the old songs like ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart,’ ” Ms. Finley said. “We also did the Hokey Pokey and polkas. He would drive anyone who needed a ride to Kane, including me. We will miss him so and we will miss his piano playing.”
Rita Morreale, who works with volunteers at Kane and schedules their visits, described Mr. Weslager as “a unique individual and a true gentleman who forgot his own ills to bring joy to the patients.”
Mr. Weslager served in World War II in the Navy aboard the USS Franklin. He was one of the founding members of Baldwin United Presbyterian Church and participated in the church’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2005.
Survivors, in addition to his daughter and wife, include another daughter, Susan Huemrich of Castle Shannon; his twin brother, Robert, of Belle Vernon; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service was held yesterday.