It was late September and the perfect weather of fall had arrived in Pittsburgh. Also arriving was Elin Roddey, who was coming to Pittsburgh for the first time. She was not particularly thrilled to be leaving Atlanta to come to a city where she had no friends or even acquaintances and a place about which she had serious misgivings. “Don’t worry,” I assured her. “We will only be there for five years.”
(My business partners and I had agreed to acquire an interest in Pittsburgh Outdoor Advertising, the dominant billboard company in southwestern Pennsylvania.)
Like most first-time visitors to Pittsburgh, Elin was astonished by the spectacular view as she emerged from the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Later that evening, after spending the day looking at houses, Elin sat in her hotel room watching tugs and barges ply the river. She decided that Pittsburgh was much better than she had anticipated. That was the beginning of our 40-year love affair with the city.
It did not take long to experience the genuine friendliness of Pittsburghers and their willingness to embrace newcomers in business, social and civic activities. The only two people I knew in Pittsburgh became my mentors: Henry Posner Jr., with whom we had partnered, and the company’s longtime attorney, Tom Wright. Together they provided my Western Pennsylvania education and orientation.
The stars of good fortune seemed to be perfectly aligned and our business flourished. I began to involve myself with local organizations that formed the fabric of human service, culture and public policy in the region. Elin did likewise but with a concentration on the arts and services to children. Needless to say, my promise to leave Pittsburgh after five years was forgotten as we filled our lives with the enjoyment of our adopted city and all of its wonderful people and institutions.
Elin even tolerated my foray into politics, although I’m not convinced she always voted for me. Nevertheless, that adventure was one of the most satisfying and rewarding times of our lives, matched only by our 65 years of marriage, our wonderful children and grandchildren and, for me, serving as a U.S. Marine.
Dec. 28 will be the official date of our 40th anniversary in Pittsburgh. Elin and I are grateful for those years. We sincerely thank the people of the Pittsburgh region for letting us share your history, culture, triumphs and challenges. And — most important — thank you for 40 amazing years!
The writer served as the first Allegheny County chief executive, 2000-2004, and was the chair of the Allegheny County Republican Committee. He is the Special Assistant to the President of St. Barnabas Health System.

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