A Life Well Lived: Dan Rooney's Humility and Humanity

Delivering the Homily at Rooney's funeral, Cardinal Donald Wuerl acknowledged a longstanding Rooney philosophical belief: “You can get anything done if you don’t care who gets the credit.”



The send-off, those that knew him might assume, was more than Dan Rooney would have wanted or needed.

But in the end, the message was direct and unmistakable, and that Rooney no doubt would have appreciated.

It started with five busloads of friends, family, current and former Steelers players and Steelers employees departing Heinz Field on a sun-splashed Tuesday morning.

The caravan wound its way around the stadium –– inside video boards that were otherwise black still displayed Rooney’s likeness in tribute –– and made its way up the Parkway East to the Forbes Avenue exit, from which the Steelers’ South Side practice facility (the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex) was visible.

The eventual destination was Saint Paul Cathedral in Oakland.

Inside, the mourners ranged from former President Barack Obama to T.C., perhaps Pittsburgh’s most-recognizable stadium vendor. Anne Anderson, the 17th Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, was there. So were John Kerry, Robert Casey, Jr., Roger Goodell, Paul Tagliabue, Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, Mike McCarthy and Joe Manganiello, among others.

A former U.S. Secretary of State, a U.S. Senator, the NFL Commissioner and his predecessor, some of the league’s highest-profile owners and an actor; it had to be that way because that’s the type of respect Rooney commanded.

But what drew people from all walks of life to him, and what wound up being celebrated during the Mass of Christian Burial attended by run-of-the-mill Pittsburghers as well as all those big shots, was Rooney’s remarkable humility and humanity.

The procession of clergy was large enough to field an offense or a defense (depending on whether the coin toss had been won or lost), led by His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington and the Principal Celebrant.

But the pallbearers were Rooney grandsons and Ike Taylor.

Taylor had come to regard Rooney as family over the years, a relationship Taylor was certain Rooney reciprocated.

The choice of Taylor to represent Steelers players in that capacity couldn’t have been more perfect.

Nor could the sentiments expressed in recognition of a life dedicated to faith, family, football and Ireland (son Art Rooney II admitted in his Reflection he wasn’t always certain of the order), and those that had been offered in the days since Rooney’s passing have been more genuine.

Wuerl acknowledged in the Homily a longstanding Rooney philosophical belief: “You can get anything done if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Taylor had liked in recent years to tell a story about his having fallen asleep in Rooney’s office, and Rooney opting to vacate his office rather than disturb Taylor’s rest.

And Ben Roethlisberger reacted last week with a remembrance of being personally congratulated by Rooney in the locker room after games, a Steelers’ tradition with the players win or lose, even on those occasions when Roethlisberger had played poorly.

Another former longtime Steelers employee explained how he’d managed to become a longtime Steelers employee in the first place.

Early in his tenure with the team, he’d sought out Rooney for some advice on how to make his new position more permanent.

The response was pure Rooney:

“Do the right thing, don’t make mistakes. Be yourself, nobody likes a phony. And don’t be a big shot.”

Words to live by, words that inspire.

Words that define a life well lived.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

True Grit: Homestead Mayor Betty Esper Just Won't Back Down

True Grit: Homestead Mayor Betty Esper Just Won't Back Down

Homestead’s first and only woman mayor has worked tirelessly for her hometown during her 35-plus years in public office. As she faces reelection unopposed next month, the 84-year-old contemplates her role as the symbol of a gritty town fighting its way back.
Photo Essay: Silence on the Cell Block

Photo Essay: Silence on the Cell Block

A look inside the now-empty penitentiary on the banks of the Ohio.
Made in Pittsburgh: 5 Great Ideas

Made in Pittsburgh: 5 Great Ideas

Modern-day creation in Pittsburgh doesn’t just involve physical products; we also have a knack for hatching new ideas that can solve problems in innovative, unexpected ways. These locally based thinkers are applying big thoughts to bigger problems.
Restaurant Review: Scratch Food + Beverage is King of the Hill

Restaurant Review: Scratch Food + Beverage is King of the Hill

The Troy Hill neighborhood spot matures into a casual destination restaurant.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: Local Beverly's Birthdays Gets National Attention

Watch: Local Beverly's Birthdays Gets National Attention

NBC Nightly News profiled Megs Yunn of Irwin, who doles out birthday cheer 365 days a year.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Meet the Federal Galley Chefs

Meet the Federal Galley Chefs

We have the lowdown on who is cooking what in the new North Side food hall from the operators of Smallman Galley.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


King Arthur's Sword Turns a Spot in Baldwin Into an Entertainment Destination

King Arthur's Sword Turns a Spot in Baldwin Into an Entertainment Destination

IQ Escape's new South Hills escape rooms elevate Crafthouse Stage & Grill and Legacy Lanes.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Encouraging Start Only a Start for The Steelers

Encouraging Start Only a Start for The Steelers

The season's first two victories were notched against mediocre competition. Eventually, the degree of difficulty is going to ratchet up considerably.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Kingsman Sequel Leans Into the Crazy (And Turns Out Fun)

Kingsman Sequel Leans Into the Crazy (And Turns Out Fun)

Reviews of "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," "Friend Request" and "Brad's Status," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Mad Libs Adds Laughs and Advice to Pittsburgh Wedding

Mad Libs Adds Laughs and Advice to Pittsburgh Wedding

Wedding guests were asked to bring their creativity to the couple’s big day.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Tour Chatham Village, Pittsburgh’s Own Secret Garden

Tour Chatham Village, Pittsburgh’s Own Secret Garden

The home and garden tour in the historic planned garden community in the heart of Mt. Washington takes place next week.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments