Frank Mascara, four-term congressman, dies

Frank R. Mascara, an accountant and onetime factory worker who served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives until losing his seat in a redistricting in 2003, died of lung cancer July 10 at a hospital in Monongahela, Pa. He was 81.

Mr. Mascara, a Democrat, was elected to Congress in 1994 from a blue-collar district in southwestern Pennsylvania.

He entered local politics 20 years earlier by campaigning for county controller under the slogan “Your Mascara is running.” He served 14 years as chairman of a county commission before his election to Congress.

A self-described “boring guy,” he seldom made public appearances in Washington and rarely spoke to the press. He served on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and later was a member of the House Financial Services and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.

He advocated raising the minimum wage, improving safety regulations to protect factory workers and supporting unions.

After the 2000 census, Mr. Mascara’s district was redrawn. The new boundaries put him in the same district as another Democratic incumbent, John P. Murtha, and the two faced off in a hotly contested primary bid in 2002.

In the campaign, Mr. Mascara claimed that Murtha would not face him in a debate. He posted 6,000 “wanted” posters around the district offering a $1,000 “bounty” to the first person who could persuade Murtha to meet Mr. Mascara and talk about electoral issues.

Murtha won the primary, and Mr. Mascara returned to his home in Charleroi. Murtha died in 2010.

Frank Robert Mascara, the son of Italian immigrants, was born Jan. 19, 1930, in Belle Vernon, about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh. His family life was hardscrabble: His father died of injuries from his work in a steel mill, and his grandfather was killed in a mining accident.

Frank Mascara worked for a time in a Corning glassware factory and was a member of the United Steelworkers Union for many years. After Army service in the late 1940s, he was an accountant and insurance salesman in Charleroi, where he also owned Colonial Consumer Finance Co., a loan business.

He graduated from California University of Pennsylvania in 1972.

His first marriage, to Frances Do, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Dolores Mendola Mascara of Charleroi; two children from his first marriage, Karen Talbert of Belle Vernon and Frank Mascara of West Palm Beach, Fla.; a son from his second marriage, Jon Mascara of Belle Vernon; a brother; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A son from his second marriage, Mark Mascara, died in 2010.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.