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Steelers part owner had passion for education

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Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 4:00 p.m.

As part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rita McGinley had a deep affection for the team, rarely missing a chance to root them to victory or mingle with the players at training camp, family members say.

But football was down the list of things about which she felt most passionate, according to her family.

“The best description of her is that she was a teacher and philanthropist who happened to have an interest in a football team,” said her nephew, Jack McGinley.

Rita M. McGinley of Oakland died on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. She was 94.

“My aunt loved teaching and counseling and was always looking for ways to advance the causes she cared about,” Jack McGinley said. “But don't get me wrong — you couldn't say anything bad about the Steelers. In her mind, they never lost. They just ran out of time.”

Her family, which is related to the Rooney family, is a minority owner in the Steelers.

Steelers President Art Rooney II said his great-aunt was a fixture at team events and “always very interested and supportive of what we were trying to do with the team.”

“She rarely missed a chance to come to training camp. She loved the team and the players,” Rooney said.

“But the most important thing about her is that she was a very kind and generous person who was concerned about the less fortunate, and used the financial wherewithal she had to help others,” he said.

Miss McGinley was a 1940 alumna of Mount Mercy College — now Carlow University — where she majored in biology. She taught science for many years in the General Braddock and then Woodland Hills school districts.

Last February, Miss McGinley gave her alma mater the largest gift in its history — $5 million to create and endow the Rita M. McGinley Center for Student Success.

“She was a very dear friend of the university who truly exemplified what a Carlow alum is and what they value,” said Mary Hines, Carlow's president.

“She was a caring and loving woman who reached out to others to make their lives better. We hold her dearly in our hearts. This is a great loss to our institution and a personal loss for me.”

The Rita M. McGinley Endowed Chair in Early Learning and Children's Media at the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College is named for McGinley, as is the annual Rita M. McGinley Symposium at Duquesne University.

Friends of Rita M. McGinley will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday in John A. Freyvogel Sons funeral home. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Monday in St. Paul Cathedral, Oakland.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or

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