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Obituary: George Miscevich / Steelworker who chose politics as a second career

Friday, December 26, 2003

By Steve Levin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

George Miscevich, a longtime steelworker who decided one day at work to run for the Pennsylvania Legislature and then served four terms in Harrisburg, died of heart disease Wednesday at his home in Elizabeth Township. He was 72.

Mr. Miscevich was a lifelong Democrat who loved the minutiae that is part of a state legislator's life: the glad-handing, the constant calls from constituents, the political maneuvering.

His election signs were handmade with Steelers black-and-gold colors declaring "Miscevich for Legislature" or "Can't Miss With Miscevich" and his politics were classic old-style Democrat.

"We both, at our core, are loyal to the traditions of the Democratic Party," said Rep. David Levdansky, D-Forward, a 10-term representative who defeated Mr. Miscevich in three consecutive primary battles in the 1980s.

"We both came from working-class backgrounds. We shared traditional political values. Our votes on things were very similar."

Mr. Miscevich's wife, Josephine, recalled the day her husband decided to try something new after 30 years of work at the Irvin Works of U.S. Steel Corp.

"He called me from the mill and said he was going to run," she said of her husband, who had spent several years as the mill's manager of water quality control. "I said, 'Well, if that's what you want to do, go ahead.'

"I was fully unprepared for what politics was all about. It was constant campaigning, with an election every two years."

Even after he'd left politics, he didn't stop talking about it -- with neighbors, with Levdansky and with his wife. At one point, Josephine Miscevich joked that she'd have his ashes scattered over Harrisburg.

After Mr. Miscevich retired from his auditor's job with the state, Levdansky engineered a House citation for him, recognizing his service to the state.

The youngest of four children born to Serbian immigrants, Mr. Miscevich graduated from McKeesport High School, served in the U.S. Army, drove trucks and taught diesel mechanics at a vocational school. In 1969, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Although well-known by the residents of Elizabeth Township after his 40 years there, Mr. Miscevich also had a knack for making friends elsewhere. The lore from family trips holds that strangers liked him so much that in the Great Smoky Mountains someone once offered him the free use of a car, and in Canada, another family offered him their house.

"People just trusted him," said his daughter, Becky Lynn Lintelman, of Penn Township.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by two other daughters, Leesa Jean Miscevich, of Elizabeth Township, and Bethann Zangrilli, of Philadelphia; a brother, Michael, of Clairton; a sister, Mildred Filotei, of North Huntingdon; and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be tomorrow from 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Jennifer S. Jordan Funeral Home, 1638 Lincoln Way, White Oak. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the funeral home.


Steve Levin can be reached at slevin@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1919.

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