World traveler focused on local charities, arts
Eliese Cutler's life combined adventure and service, as she traveled the globe to work with her husband and later devoted herself to charitable work in Pittsburgh.
She and her husband, the late Dr. John C. Cutler, performed public health work and research in primitive locations in Latin America, India and Afghanistan.
Eliese S. Cutler, 95, of Point Breeze died on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, surrounded by her family.
Earlier this year, at the age of 94, she became a mother for the first time, adopting nephew Dr. Stuart D. Strahl.
Strahl's late father and Mrs. Cutler were siblings, he said. She and his biological mother were close friends.
“After a while, someone suggested I was like a son to her,” Strahl said.
“She adopted me this year. It was a bit of a surprise. It was one of the more emotional days of my life.”
The daughter of the late Eliese Mertens and Egbert Strahl graduated from Wellesley College in 1939.
After she and Dr. Cutler were married in 1942, she joined him in his work for the U.S. Public Health Service, World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization.
“The interesting thing about their work together is that they would go to very remote areas. Eliese would sort of organize his logistics. She was very good with people. They did some things in the middle of nowhere that were nothing short of miraculous,” Dr. Strahl said.
John Cutler's background included women's reproductive health, Strahl said.
On international flights, Mrs. Cutler often had to rescue the stewardesses from — and take over for — her husband, who would lecture the women on reproductive health, Strahl said.
After the couple moved to Pittsburgh in the mid-1960s, Mrs. Cutler became a tireless community volunteer.
She served on numerous philanthropic boards, including the Visiting Nurses Association and the Pittsburgh Dance Council. She served as a Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania board member for more than four decades.
“She was very fond of the performing arts. She was one of those people who folks depended on to get lots of work done,” Strahl said.
Good friend Lois Michaels of Shadyside was among a group of women who socialized together and whom Mrs. Cutler had christened “Les Girls.”
Michaels said Mrs. Cutler was a wonderful conversationalist.
“We would get together and talk about current events and politics, family and travel,” she said.
“We went to the theater, chamber music programs, the opera. You couldn't call her between 1 and 4 p.m. on Saturdays. That was when she listened to Metropolitan Opera on the radio. I guess if she was a man, we would have called her a Renaissance man,” Michaels said.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Cutler is survived by three grandchildren.
In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her brother, William Egbert Strahl, and a nephew, Eric R. Olds.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday and noon to 1 p.m. Saturday in John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc., 4900 Centre Ave. at Devonshire Street, Pittsburgh. A celebration of Mrs. Cutler's life will start at 1 p.m. Saturday in the funeral home.
The family asks that memorials be in the form of contributions to Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, 933 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.