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Insightful mom was valued hospital volunteer

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Joy Kinneman Blenko
Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 9:30 p.m.

Joy Blenko knew how to guide her children without their knowing it, said her son, Andrew.

She had always stressed the importance of education, but Mrs. Blenko didn't harshly criticize him when he decided to drop out of college after his freshman year in 1974, said Andrew W. Blenko of North Huntingdon.

After two years of working at menial jobs, Andrew returned to college, graduating from Penn State in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in engineering.

“But she let me have my freedom to make that decision on my own. She knew that I'd come around to that way of thinking,” he said of his mother.

Hampton resident Joy Kinneman Blenko died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Presbyterian SeniorCare in Oakmont. She was 86.

A former president of the Pittsburgh Civic Garden Center and the Churchill Garden Club, Mrs. Blenko was an avid gardener and reader who cherished spending time with her family, her loved ones said.

Born Nov. 23, 1925, and raised in Squirrel Hill, she was the older daughter of John Kinneman Jr. and Catherine Sweadner Kinneman.

Mrs. Blenko graduated from The Ellis School in Shadyside in 1943; Baltimore-based Goucher College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy, in 1947; and the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a master's degree in business in 1948, said her husband, Walter J. Blenko Jr.

After graduating from Pitt, she worked for four years in fashion merchandising in Gimbels department store, Downtown.

In 1949, she and Walter J. Blenko Jr. married.

Mrs. Blenko was a longtime volunteer at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Bloomfield, starting in the 1970s, her husband said. She became a member of the Women's Committee and the hospital's governing board.

“She had a very sharp insight into situations that she saw and was quite active in the things that she was interested in,” Mr. Blenko said.

In addition to her husband, and son Andrew, Mrs. Blenko is survived by another son, John W. Blenko of Baltimore, and three grandchildren, Stephanie N., Charles R. and Evan A. Blenko.

She was predeceased by her parents and a sister, Donna Hasley Hodges.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday in John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc., 4900 Centre Ave. at Devonshire Street, Shadyside. Services and interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to The Ellis School.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or

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