Marvin M. Wedeen
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Marvin M. Wedeen

WEDEEN: Marvin M. Wedeen, longtime Sewickley resident and crusader for the Sewickley community, passed away on Jan 1, 2022. He was 95.
Marvin left us with the secret to leading a happy life. He maintained: “The secret to a happy life is that your giving outweighs your taking.” His life reflected his belief in that philosophy.
Marvin led a life of service. He was a master of finding areas of need and creating actionable solutions to build and to improve community. He has been described as a “community champion,” “catalytic agent” and “negotiator extraordinaire.”
Marvin enrolled in the Cornell University School of Agriculture in 1943 at age 17, but was drafted in March of 1944. After his basic training, he was assigned to the 100th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg and served in the European Theatre from October 1944 until he mustered out in April of 1946. Although wounded in battle, he went back to the front and served until his discharge. For his service, he was awarded a Purple Heart.
Upon his discharge from the military, Marvin returned to Cornell University to complete his studies. His program included an academic requirement that he have firsthand experience in running a farm. He applied for work on a farm owned by the family of Hannah Haas, a Cornell classmate and his future bride.
His diary from that time reads: “Got Job – Got Gal”.
He and Hannah married in August of 1947, and remained in New York State for over 20 years. There, Marvin began his management career with Sealtest. He then served as vice president of Dellwood Foods where his responsibilities included marketing, product development and labor relations. He also served as an employment trustee for union pensions and welfare funds.
When the dairy industry began downsizing, Marvin looked for a new career direction. With the support of Hannah and friends in the health care field, he decided that his knowledge of personnel management and labor relations would be a good fit for a career in hospital administration.
In his early 40s and now the father of two daughters, Marvin enrolled in a two-year graduate program in hospital administration at the Columbia School of Public Health. After completing a residency in Cooperstown, New York, he applied for a position at Sewickley Valley Hospital in 1971. A several-hour interview with Don Spalding, president of Sewickley Valley Hospital, launched Marvin’s highly successful 30-year career devoted to hospital management and health care.
As vice president of Sewickley Valley Hospital, Marvin oversaw the areas of human resources, physician recruitment, and strategic planning. As part of his role at the hospital, Marvin was strongly encouraged to find ways to improve conditions in the larger community.
One way he became a “catalytic agent” was by organizing a committee to save the Sewickley Bridge. When a new bridge was constructed as part of construction of Route 79, it became known that PennDot was not planning to replace the Sewickley Bridge, which had been closed because of structural problems. Marvin and others recognized the threat this posed to the community. He was a charter organizer and prime mover of the Committee to Save Sewickley Bridge which was dedicated to finding a way to save the bridge. The results of his efforts are clear.
In 1978, a new organization was created to serve the needs of senior citizens in the Sewickley area. The goal of the Valley Care Association was to plan and ensure the development of a nursing home in the area that would offer three levels of care — skilled nursing, intermediate and custodial — while accepting patients who were receiving medical assistance. Marvin served as a key leader and worked tirelessly toward the Association’s goals. He was president of the board from 1993 until 1996, and served as a trustee from the Association’s inception until 2008. As membership in the VCA grew, financial support solidified. Property in Aleppo was purchased and construction of a nursing home began in April of 1983.
While the development of a nursing home was always a priority for the VCA, their long-term objective was to offer a full range of care to senior citizens. An assisted living facility would focus on a different level of care than a nursing home and a retirement community would allow seniors to live independently.
While the board worked arduously to find ways to provide a continuum of care with a variety of partners, it wasn’t until September of 1998 that an ideal “fit” was found in the Masonic organization. The highly regarded Masons were interested in buying the nursing home and also the land needed to build a retirement community — fulfilling the long-range plan and hopes of the VCA — and of Marvin Wedeen.
When he became a Masonic villa resident in 2003, Marvin became an active participant in one of his own legacies.
Marvin retired from his position at Sewickley Valley Hospital in 1992. By then, he had achieved Fellowship in the American College of Healthcare Executives for his contributions to community and healthcare development. He had also been named “1979 Man of the Year” by the Sewickley Herald.
During his retirement years he served as a volunteer consultant to the Executive Service Corps of Western Pennsylvania, an organization devoted to providing management consulting services to nonprofit organizations. There, he was lead consultant specializing in strategic planning and outcome measurement for numerous local nonprofit agencies and two school districts. In the late 90s, he was named “Community Champion” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for his work with The Executive Service Corps.
His board service included the Sewickley Valley Hospital Foundation, Hospital Council of Western PA, The G. Whitney Snyder Memorial Community Fund, B’nai Brith, Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, Beth Samuel Jewish Center, Sewickley Community Center, and Southwestern PA Health Planning Association. In addition, he was a long-time member of the Cornell Club of Pittsburgh and he and Hannah enthusiastically co-chaired their Cornell 50th class reunion in 1997.
Finding time to immerse themselves in the community, Marvin and Hannah were regular bridge players, tennis and paddle tennis players, avid gardeners and devotees of the Betty Morrow book club. They also enjoyed a myriad of Pittsburgh’s cultural activities — chamber music, symphony, opera, art museums, theater and a variety of lecture series. In addition, their bags were always packed and they traveled extensively through many parts of the world.
When Hannah passed in 2002, Marvin mourned her deeply, while spending time with his three Pittsburgh grandchildren and family in California and Florida offered some welcome solace.
In 2003, Marvin reconnected with a favorite neighbor from his original upstate New York days. Dot George and Marvin were a wonderful match and, after marrying in the Fall of 2003, they moved into Masonic Village together. They spent their time there in bridge games, a jazz club, a Life Long Learners’ group and a religious discussion group. After Dot’s death in 2014 Marvin continued to be an active member of the Masonic Village Community, leading the weekly Life Long Learning Group, attending lectures and music programs and a regular “happy hour” with other residents.
Marvin was a natural coach and a quiet, highly effective leader. He relished meeting new people and spending quality time with old friends. He strove to build connections and to encourage everyone to find ways to enrich their community and to challenge themselves to find and realize their own potential.
His foremost wish was that his family members become productive and respected members of their communities and continue his tradition of giving back.
Marvin is survived by his two daughters, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren: Rachel Wedeen of Aptos, California; Miriam Johnson of Pittsburgh; Eric Dixon of Pittsburgh; Courtney Nipaver of Apopka, Florida; Nathaniel Dixon of San Diego, California; Dylan, Dean and Declan Dixon of Pittsburgh; and Madison, Maci and Finley Nipaver of Apopka, Florida.
A private religious ceremony was held on Jan. 6. A memorial celebration will be held at the Masonic Village in mid-February and another life celebration, for the greater community, later this year.
Memorial donations to Temple Beth Samuel in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and to Masonic Village in Sewickley are preferred. Arrangements by The Cole Funeral Home, Sewickley. PJC

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