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Volunteer remembered for her 'big heart'

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Fran Kittiko

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

For years, Fran Kittiko could be seen around UPMC McKeesport working with the volunteers or selling tickets for fundraisers for the hospital or a community event.

The White Oak resident died Sunday. She marked her 90th birthday on Jan. 25 and in October was blessed with the birth of her great-grandson, Francis David Sisco.

“She was so excited to see her great-grandson,” granddaughter Lauren Stash Sisco said. “She got to hold him a couple times and that really made her happy.”

Among her fondest memories of her grandmother are those centered around the holidays. “We always did holidays with her in her apartment with all the family being there. That will be a hard adjustment to make when the holidays come around this year.”

As a child, Sisco said she was impressed that so many people knew her grandmother. “When I was younger, I remember how she always knew people and how everyone knew her wherever she was.

“She was very outgoing and that was something I always thought was great,” Sisco reminisced. “She was popular in the community and I admired her for that. When I would go with her to the hospital, she was someone people felt a connection with and I could tell she was popular and I liked that.”

Kittiko was director of volunteers and community affairs at the hospital for many years and during that time Michele Matuch got to know her.

“In my earlier years at McKeesport Hospital, my experiences working with Fran were both enlightening and rewarding to work closely with the director of volunteers and to experience the true meaning of community,” Matuch said. “Fran loved the hospital and the community so much that she dedicated her life as a true advocate of everything good for all people.”

In recent years, Kittiko was not able to do the volunteer work she loved.

“She has been truly missed for some time during her illness and we will always miss the good work she has done by someone who had a big heart in all she did for everyone,” said Matuch, executive director of McKeesport Hospital Foundation.

A member of the McKeesport Hospital Nurses Alumni Association, Jean Drago remembers Kittiko “always fundraising for something. She was always trying to make things better for the community. She was a hustler when it came to selling tickets for fundraisers for the hospital or the community. One time she organized a benefit at McKeesport Little Theater for the hospital and she sold a lot of tickets.”

Describing her personality, Drago said Kittiko was a “very, very nice person. She was a very giving person. I volunteer in the gift shop and she was always around there. The last time I saw her was in the gift shop.”

Never one to be idle, Kittiko was always involved with a group or event. When she wasn't helping with the Golden Key Club or serving on the McKeesport Hospital Foundation's Invitational committee, she was part of the McKeesport Hospital Women's Committee, served on the YWCA board, was a member of the Altrusa Club of McKeesport, served as chairman of the Heart Ball for 18 years, and was a board member for Mon-Yough Community and Human Services, McKeesport Realtors, and the Mon-Yough Riverfront Entertainment and Cultural Council.

Kittiko was secretary of the Downtown McKeesport Association, local chairperson for the American Heart Association, president of the former White Oak Catholic Women's Guild, on the committee for the Summer Concert Series in McKeesport, a volunteer and member at McKeesport Regional History and Heritage Center and served on the committee for the Christmas with the Lions.

A McKeesport native, Kittiko graduated from McKeesport High School and attended Duff's Business School and Pennsylvania State University. In 1989, she received her real estate license and was the first woman selected Realtor of the Year.

She has two children — Patricia Kittiko Stash and Edmund Kittiko.

Family and friends will be received Friday from 1-5 p.m. at Willig Funeral Home and Cremation Services in McKeesport. A blessing service will be Saturday at 11 a.m. in the funeral home chapel with the Rev. Matthew Elanjileth officiating. Burial will be in McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery.

Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1916, or

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