Penn State and the College of the Liberal Arts are mourning the loss of alumnus and long-time supporter Larry McCabe, who died on July 1 less than three weeks shy of his 83rd birthday. A Mass of Christian Burial funeral for McCabe was celebrated Friday, July 6 at St. Alexis Roman Catholic Church in Wexford, Pennsylvania.
McCabe was born on July 19, 1935 in Uniontown. He received his bachelor’s degree in arts and letters (majoring in political science and history) from Penn State in 1957 and then earned his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1960. He served in the U.S. Army following law school; it was during his service at Fort Knox, Kentucky, that he met and married his wife, Gretchen, to whom he was married for 54 years.
McCabe returned to Pittsburgh following his tour of duty and joined Duquesne Light Co.’s legal department. He moved to the H.J. Heinz Company in 1965, where he rose through the company ranks to become senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the board until his retirement in 2000.
While a student at Penn State, McCabe was a member of the Parmi Nous leadership society and the Penn State Thespians. He remained closely connected to his alma mater for the 60-plus years following his graduation. He and Gretchen are longtime members of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center Board of Visitors in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts and established an undergraduate fund, graduate fund, and director’s fund in the center. The couple also co-funded the college’s McCabe Greer Professorship in the American Civil War Era and have provided support for the college’s Paterno Liberal Arts Undergraduate Fellowship Program. McCabe received the college’s Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2011.
“Larry and Gretchen have been pioneers for what became the Richards Center,” said William Blair, center director and Walter L. and Helen P. Ferree Professor of Middle American History. “In 1998, they stepped in during a critical moment and created a professorship that became a cornerstone of the center. Their vision and support have been instrumental in helping us become a research entity with a national reputation. Larry will be very much missed.”
In addition to his wife, McCabe is survived by his five children: Susan Kinsella, of Clarendon Hills, Illinois; Megan Cantella, of Zelienople, Pennsylvania; Kevin McCabe, of Sandusky, Ohio; Heather Wurzer, of Fairport, New York; and Erin Powell of the North Hills, Pennsylvania. He also is survived by 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.