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Mourners pay respects to mayor



Published: Mon, September 4, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Luke Ravenstahl, 26, the city's youngest mayor, was sworn in Friday.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Several hundred people lined up midday Sunday to pay respect to Mayor Bob O'Connor, whose body was lying in state two days after he died of brain cancer.

The flag-draped coffin holding O'Connor's body lay in the City-County Building, where it will remain around-the-clock for 34 hours until 10 p.m. today.

Clark King, 53, a liquor store security guard, arrived at 11:15 a.m. By then, several dozen people were ahead of him.

King waited more than an hour before he could enter the building to honor a mayor he had met several times only in passing, but who had made a deep impression.

"Every time I met him ... he would shake your hand, look you in the eye," he said.

"This guy would talk to you, thank you for your vote. But it was more than that. It was the way he spoke to you," King said. "White, black -- it didn't matter. They say he was everyone's mayor. He was mine; he was mine."

King recalled standing by O'Connor at a Super Bowl rally for the Steelers. "I showed him my [Steelers] ring. He liked that," he said.

King chuckled as he recalled one of O'Connor's disarmingly simple projects: the campaign to "Redd Up" -- a local euphemism for cleaning up.

"Clean up the city. Who ever heard of such a thing? Redd up," King said.

Here's the scene

Outside, the Greater Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums marched up the steps of the building, playing "The Wearing of the Green," "Danny Boy" and "Amazing Grace." Several flower bouquets were placed on a ledge. "Our Mayor, Our Friend," read one.

Luke Ravenstahl, sworn in Friday night as the city's youngest mayor at age 26, walked along the line and shook hands with mourners.

Inside, O'Connor's widow, Judy, and children hugged and shook hands with a steady steam of mourners. They did not speak with the media.

Norma Turner, who came to Pittsburgh from Jamaica in 1983 and worked for the city's housing authority, said she was "just sad."

"It's as if he was one of my family," she said. "He just brought such a wonderful spirit to the city in the short time he was here."

By late afternoon, only about a dozen people were in line, but more continued to trickle in.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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