William Varner Jr.

August 16, 1936 ~ July 4, 2018 (age 81)





William Varner Jr. at the age of 81 closed his eyes in eternal sleep on July 4, 2018. “Will” was born August 16, 1936 to the late Will and Margaret Varner and resided in New Kensington all his life.  A 1955 Ken Hi graduate, Mr. Varner, attended St. Vincent College before becoming the first black employee at Libby Owens in Tarentum, PA where he endured many acts of discrimination. He went on to work for Hughes & Hatcher, a men’s clothing store downtown Pittsburgh where he was considered one of the best and top salesmen in this area. Many of his customers that requested his services were professional athletes to CEO’s. In the next phase of his career he joined Frank B. Furher Wholesale Distributer for Anheuser-Busch as a Specialty Market Manager before joining the sales department of the LaRusse beer distribution company in Tarentum, PA until his retirement. After his retirement Mr. Varner continued to be active working part time for a charity in Pittsburgh, lending his time to a variety of community initiatives in the New Kensington – Arnold area as well as being a dedicated husband and father. Mr. Varner was a longtime community advocate. He has always fought for individuals and social justice in the community. The following are a few of his accomplishments: As a Lifetime Member, he received the NAACP local chapter’s John C. Lovelace Human Rights Award.  Will was one of the NAACP Members who integrated the Crystal Springs swimming pool, which was located on Greensburg Road in Lower Burrell. In conjunction with several local mothers and members of the community, he organized and created a youth center and solicited enough funds to operate a youth center for many years. He made it a safe environment for children to play games, receive tutoring and counseling. He was the first African American to run for election as Councilman for the City of New Kensington in 1969. He was a board member of the New Kensington Community Clinic in which he was a major factor in soliciting funds to operate the clinic and get the equipment to start the Dental Clinic.He organized local neighborhoods to enable the JFK playground on 11th Street to remain open for the local children to have a place to play and was a factor in getting them new playground equipment. As an outstanding basketball player, Will played for New Kensington Commercial College where he scored 100 points in a single game. Mr. Varner joined and helped organize, with local family & friends, The Will Thrower Memorial Committee. He was instrumental in raising funds by obtaining state and local grants, as well as private donations, for the creation of the statue of Willie Thrower which is located at the entrance of the football stadium at Valley High School. Mr. Varner loved his family and his community.  He believed in giving back and paying it forward. Whoever needed his help whether it was a piece of clothing, paying a utility bill, medical needs or finding someone a job he was there to help. He enjoyed attending his grandchildren sporting events, family gatherings, and traveling. He will always be known as the “best dressed” man around and one of the toughest basketball players you will ever meet on the court. Will is survived by his soulmate and loving wife of 59 years, Lauraetta Varner; and their children: William J. Varner of Van Nuys, CA; Lisa (Troy) Hill of New Kensington; Laura (Dana)Norman of Gaithersburg, MD; thirteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is also survived by two supportive sisters-in-law Valena (Conrad) Bruton and Roberta (Rod) Alston. Will was preceded in death by his parents Will and Margaret Varner, his brother, Joseph Mitchell and sister-in-law LaRue Mitchell. Viewing will be Sunday 2-4 and 6-8 pm in ROSS G. WALKER FUNERAL HOME LTD, 217 Freeport Road, New Kensington. A Funeral service will be held Monday at 11am in Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Lovie Scott presiding, 1150 Asa W. Roberts Way, New Kensington. Entombment will follow in Greenwood Mausoleum, Lower Burrell. To leave an on line condolence please visit





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