- On January 4, 2023
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Michael Yablonski, 68, of Upper St. Clair, died on January 1, 2023 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his loving wife Barbara, stepsons Don (Jessica) and Jason (Chelcee) McGowan, grandchildren Ella and Connor McGowan, and his siblings Steven (Donna), Karen Yablonski-Toll, Linda (Joe) Scott, and Brian (Priscilla).
Michael was raised in California, Pa., and graduated cum laude in 1976 from the University of Pittsburgh as an English writing major. Inspired by the media coverage of the Watergate scandal during his college years, Michael deferred his plan to attend law school to pursue a career in journalism. After a couple of internships at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he earned a master’s degree in 1979 from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Michael then worked as a reporter for newspapers in New Jersey and Kansas City. He reached the apex of his journalism career as a member of a reporting team that investigated the cause of the skywalks collapse that killed 113 people in Kansas City’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. Their efforts were recognized with a 1982 Pulitzer Prize.
Michael enrolled in the law school at George Washington University in 1984. After graduating with the Order of the Coif in 1987, he returned to his native Pittsburgh. For the next 30+ years, he practiced law with several Pittsburgh firms, specializing in construction law and business litigation. While practicing law, Michael never forgot his roots in journalism. He served for many years as an editor of the American Bar Association publication Litigation News. In 2007, Michael also created and launched Pittsburgh Professional Magazine, a monthly magazine that showcased the careers of some of Pittsburgh’s most influential and colorful professionals. Although the Great Recession forced a premature end to the magazine after two years, Michael claimed that he never had more pride and joy in his professional career than he did in editing the magazine.
But the greatest pride and joy in Michael’s life came from his 1988 marriage to Barbara and the two young sons who came with the bargain. Raising and educating Don and Jason was the most important and satisfying job he ever had, and Michael took great pride in seeing them both develop into happy and successful adults. The 2013 birth of his grandchildren, Ella and Connor, proved to be a life changing event. Michael adored them and often said that life doesn’t get any better than having boy and girl twins as grandchildren.
An avid skier since childhood, Michael loved taking Barbara and his sons on many skiing excursions, most often to Vail, Colorado, his favorite vacation destination. He was delighted when Jason recently carried on the family tradition by taking Ella and Connor on their first trip to Vail. Michael was also a passionate golfer. He and Barbara were members of the Southpointe Golf Club for many years and they became members in 2017 of the Lone Pine Country Club.
Throughout his marriage, Michael considered Barbara to be his best friend as well as his soul mate. The couple rarely spent a night apart and Michael cherished his wife until his dying breath.
A Celebration of Life will be held later in January.