Photography

Margaret Rose "Judy" (Skeehan) Lackner

June 3, 1923 ~ April 11, 2022 (age 98)

Obituary

MARGARET ROSE “JUDY” (SKEEHAN) LACKNER

June 3, 1923 - April 11, 2022

Margaret Rose “Judy” (Skeehan) Lackner, age 98, of Sheraden, passed away on Monday, April 11, 2022. Beloved wife of the late Vincent F. Lackner, Sr., for 71 years.   Survived by her loving children Margaret Anne of Boston, Vincent Jr.  (Anne Billiet Lackner) of Rosslyn Farms, and David (Lynn Steffan) of Gibsonia; and grandchildren Christiana (Nicolas Perez) of San Francisco; Katarina (Alex Foss) of Franconia, NH; Ashley Cortright (Jimmy, and their daughter Chloe) of San Diego; Kyle (Leyla, and their daughter Beatrice) of Berlin; Jordan of Gibsonia; and Abigail (Maany Peyvan) of Washington, D.C.

Preceded in death by infant daughter Rosemary (1950) and son John (2020).  Youngest sister and last survivor of her siblings Elizabeth (Skeehan) Lesquin, John K. Skeehan, Thomas F. Skeehan, Edward J. Skeehan, and Ruth Anne (Skeehan) Hugo.  Also survived by many loving nieces and nephews.  Daughter of the late John L. and Anne (Knight) Skeehan.  

Judy grew up in Baden, PA, graduated as valedictorian from Sewickley High School, attended Seton Hill College (now University) for a year in the footsteps of her sisters, and graduated in December 1943 from Margaret Morrison College (Carnegie Tech) where she had a nearly 4.0 average and was selected Christmas Queen in her senior year.

She was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).  She rose to Lieutenant and was stationed in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  As Headmaster Clifford Nichols, her later boss at Sewickley once said, “Judy could have organized D Day!”

After her wedding on September 13, 1947, she began graduate studies in French and English at the University of Toronto, where her husband pursued his Ph.D. in Philosophy.  They lived with a group of dynamic, young, up-and-coming members of the intelligentsia, including their next-door neighbor, the noted Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan.  Those friendships lasted throughout their lives and had a profound impact on them.

After returning to Pittsburgh and moving into the house she would occupy for over 72 years, she cared for the growing family, and her husband started teaching Philosophy at Duquesne University. When Duquesne started a European visiting professorship program in 1951, Judy and Vincent volunteered to host the first couple from in an extra bedroom.  Their home then became the unofficial headquarters of all such visitors over the next few decades. The Lackners, both from modest backgrounds but both high achievers, became a kind of “intellectual power couple” that was far greater than the sum of its parts. 

They regularly hosted the European visitors, friends, and family members for dinners, which included lively conversations about subjects ranging far and wide. These conversations often carried late into the evening, during which diverse opinions were shared and every opinion was valued and respected.  

A life-long learner who accumulated enough college credits to have graduated many times over, Judy entered the University of Pittsburgh graduate School of Library Science after her youngest child started school, and received her master’s degree in 1965.  In 1966, she started work as Senior School Librarian at Sewickley Academy, where she stayed for 22 years. There, she served as the “Book Whisperer,” owing to her voracious appetite for reading and her steel-trap memory. She was also Faculty Advisor to the school newspaper called “The Seventh Pillar” which won countless awards during her tenure.

In 1967, Judy was appointed to the School Board of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where she developed a sometimes fraught, but always warm, friendship with Bishop John J. Wright. They came into close contact with many giants of the day, including Father Herman Leo Von Breda, a Belgian Franciscan monk whose life’s work was transcribing from German short-hand the works of Edmund Husserl, known as the father of phenomenology; Father H.H. Reinhold, a foremost German Liturgist; and a number of others.  They were comfortable in the presence of these great thinkers because they had spent so much time with her older sister, Elizabeth Lesquin, and her father, John Skeehan, each of whom possessed both natural curiosity and great intellectual firepower.

And all during that time, she baked whole wheat bread three times per week, made many of her own clothes, found time to travel to Washington and New York to march against the Vietnam War, and for 31 years ran the payroll for the Laughlin Children’s Center in Sewickley where her sister Elizabeth served as the first Executive Director.   Because of Vincent’s interim 10-year career selling mutual funds, they also enjoyed nearly 50 years of grand New Year’s Eve parties at the home of the founders of Federated Investors together with many of the business, educational, and cultural leaders of the Pittsburgh community.

After retiring in 1988, Judy started a new career working four days a week for the tax software business of her son Vincent, Jr.  She took computer classes, and soon became an advanced user.  One day, when Apple sent a complimentary Mac, she quickly mastered Word for the Mac and wrote the first manual for his software program.  In 1998, she quickly mastered FileMaker Pro and reproduced nearly 200 tax return pages that are still in use over 30 years later.

Judy did not know the meaning of the word shy.  On her first day of school as a five-year-old first grader in 1928, with three much older brothers who all attended Notre Dame, she asked for permission to sing a song (“Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame”).  She was then sent to every other classroom in the school to sing that song as well. 

In her final year of life, when transfers between bed and wheelchair became dicey, she would resist almost all offers of help, insisting that because she’s always done it, she could continue doing it on her own.  We could only conclude that she was just going through a phase, one that might be called the “Terrible 98s”.

Her sister Elizabeth wrote a book about growing up in the 1910s and 1920s entitled “The Way Things Were” (which, of course, Judy edited and formatted).  Judy herself also wrote a book, which her family believes should be entitled “The Way Things Ought to Be.”

A memorial service has not yet been scheduled.  It will likely take place sometime after June 2022, and the invitation to it will be broadly shared.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Light of Life Rescue Mission (https://give.lightoflife.org/for/lol/).

Arrangements by the William F. Conroy Funeral Home, Inc., Sheraden. 412-331-5192. You may express your condolences through our online tribute wall at wfconroyfuneralhome.com.

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