HOMESTEAD (KDKA) — For John Hoerr, Pittsburgh not only represented the steel industry, it made the city what it is today.
The McKeesport native, who passed away June 21, was remembered this Labor Day as a labor journalist who chronicled the rise and fall of the steel industry, specifically in the Mon Valley.
“That was what, I think, his hallmark. His tremendous integrity, the ability to listen and sympathy for the working people in the Mon Valley and his community in McKeesport especially,” long-time friend Charles McCollester said. “U.S. Steel would talk to him openly and freely, and the United Steelworkers would talk to him openly and freely even when they were at their most bitter periods of relationship in modern times.”
His book, “And The Wolf Finally Came” remains the standard study that schools and universities use to teach the collapse of the industry.
He earned trust, and on Monday, speaker after speaker, who ranged from friends to family to representatives from the United Steelworkers Union, told a crowded Pump House in Homestead about the impact Hoerr had with his honest writing.
It was his ability to listen to and digest a story that helped him succeed in his field. His talents took him away from Pittsburgh, but the people here remained in his heart.
“He really did believe in this Valley,” Hoerr’s son, Peter, said. “He believed in people when it came down to it, people coming together and doing the work of life and prospering together.”