Jean A. O’Toole, 90, of Mt. Lebanon, died peacefully at St. Clair Hospital on April 7, 2023. She left this world as she had lived her entire life—on her own terms—departing only when she was good and ready.
Jean was the pillar of her family, unflappable in a crisis and supportive in times of need. She was never one to mince words or to leave you in doubt about what she REALLY thought(although her children continue to debate who was her favorite). It was a trait that served her well in a long life of public service that touched countless others.
Jean moved her young family to Scott Township in 1958 and soon got involved in the Wynnecliffe Manor/Virginia Vue Civic League. She helped to establish the first children’s recreation program in Scott Township and volunteered as one of its first swimming instructors. She held leadership roles in Girl Scouts and in educational organizations, including as president of the Parent Teacher’s Guild at St. Luke’s Elementary School.
In 1969, she was the first woman to be elected to the board of the Chartiers Valley School District. She served until 1975 including one term as the first woman president of the Board. She also served as a Democratic Committeewoman, a member of the Democratic State Committee, and the Scott Township Democratic Vice Chairperson.
After raising her four children, she worked for 11 years in the Scott Township tax office.
When she successfully ran for commissioner of Scott Township’s 2nd Ward in 1997, Jean was proud to have won both the Democratic and Republican nominations. Throughout three 4-year terms in office, she was a staunch advocate for her constituents. A voracious reader, one of her projects was helping to establish Scott Township’s public library.
Jean was born in Pittsburgh on December 17, 1932, the oldest child of Daniel J. Abel and Kathleen (Duffy) Abel. She grew up in Beechview and graduated from South Hills High School in 1951. In 1952, she married Thomas O’Toole who preceded her in death on Dec. 31, 1990.
Having started life during the Depression, Jean was generous to a fault, yet always frugal. She cut her children’s hair herself and made or bought their clothes too big so they could “grow into them.” (We forgive you.) She was a relentless coupon clipper who would drive 10 miles to save 75 cents on a can of Maxwell House coffee. She loved outings to the Dollar Tree. As a commissioner, she was sometimes the lone vote against a proposal that required higher-than-budgeted expenditures.
Jean was independent, strong-willed, and witty. She had a soft spot for babies, dogs, and Judge Judy. Her needs were simple, but she was headstrong and knew what she liked—her coffee hot, her wine cold, and her chocolate dark and pepperminty
One of Jean’s superpowers was surviving cancer. Too ornery to let the disease get the best of her, she fought back time after time—a 50-year survivor. She succumbed only when she decided to call it quits and with promises to haunt whoever tried to stop her. To the end, she remained a role model and inspiration for her children.
Jean leaves behind a loving family that includes cousins by the dozens and friends who will miss her every day. She was a member of St. Teresa of Kolkata Parish.
Jean is survived by her children: Maureen O’Toole, Kathleen O’Toole (Gary Gray), Thomas O’Toole (Kathy Mayher) and Kerry O’Toole; her twelve grandchildren: Alison Bender, David, Maureen, John, Claire, and Thomas Gray, Andrew, Juliana,Emily and Kathleen Gianni, and Thomas and John O’Toole; and her nine great grandchildren: Nora, Audrey, Willa, and Clara Bender, Charlotte, Patrick, and Declan Gray, Grady Akien, and Ada Gray.
For all her accomplishments, Jean was most proud of her children, grandchildren, and the greats. We know she is smiling on us because when we left her apartment for the last time, we remembered to turn off the coffee pot, jiggle the toilet handle and lock the door.
Family and Friends welcome on Sunday, April 16, 2023, from 2-8 p.m. in WILLIAM SLATER II FUNERAL SERVICE (412-563-2800) 1650 Greentree Rd. Scott Twp. 15220 A mass to celebrate her extraordinary life will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 17, 2023, at St. Catherine of Siena Church, St. Teresa of Kolkata Parish 1810 Belasco Ave., Pittsburgh, where Jean was baptized 90 years ago—she loved life’s full circles.
Burial will follow at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville where she will be laid to rest with her husband, thus ending Tom’s 33 years of peace.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.