Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, lifelong Catholic, dies at 84

PITTSBURGH — Dan Rooney, a beloved Pittsburgh icon as longtime chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, died April 13 at age 84 after a brief illness.

He was remembered by sports figures and church leaders alike for his humility and leadership.

In his nearly eight decades with the Steelers, the team won six Super Bowl titles. Rooney also served as U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009 to 2012.

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik, who knew Rooney for 30 years and spent time with him before he died, said the Catholic football team executive "had business smarts, but more importantly, was very much quintessentially a Pittsburgher and was very humble about everything the Steelers were able to do."

The bishop, who spoke to the local CBS affiliate, KDKA-TV, April 13, said Rooney modeled his father, Art Rooney, founding owner of the Steelers.

"There's no question about it, Dan was really a beautiful reflection of his dad," he said.

The father and son were both inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — Art Rooney in 1964 and Dan Rooney in 2000. The third-generation Rooney, Art Rooney II, one of nine children of Dan and Patricia Rooney, has been president of the Steelers since 2003.

"It is a sad day for my family and me," Art Rooney II said in a statement. "My father meant so much to all of us, and so much to so many past and present members of the Steelers organization. He gave his heart and soul to the Steelers, the National Football League and the city of Pittsburgh."

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, former bishop of Pittsburgh, described Rooney as a "champion for his family, his community, his team and his faith." The cardinal said when he was a priest and bishop in Pittsburgh, he had the chance to work with Rooney and appreciated his "strong faith and how it influenced his commitment to and love for Pittsburgh, the role his Steelers played in the community, and his devotion to our country which he served so capably as ambassador to Ireland."

A viewing was held April 17 at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers. Rooney's funeral Mass was celebrated the next morning at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh.

Rooney is survived by Patricia, his wife of 65 years, four brothers, seven children, 20 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren. His daughter Kathleen died in 1987, and his daughter Rita died in 2012. 

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