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Monroeville family celebrates daughter's enduring spirit of generosity

| Friday, May 17, 2013, 10:18 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Mike Greisinger of Monroeville stocks a pond in Homewood Cemetery with 700 goldfish on Friday, May 17, 2013. The goldfish are a tribute to his sister, Cathy, who died 10 years ago in an apartment fire.
Cathy Greisinger, 27, died in an apartment fire in Pitcair on May 17, 2003. The Cathy G. Charities, a foundation started by her father, Gary, in her memory, continues her work helping people in the community.

A little pond amid the green hills of Homewood Cemetery teemed anew with life on Friday, a tribute to the memory of a young woman whose generosity family and friends still mark.

The day was the 10th anniversary of Cathy Greisinger's death at age 27 in a Pitcairn apartment fire. To celebrate his daughter's life, Gary Greisinger, family and friends released 700 tiny goldfish into the pond full of lily pads and frogs. The ceremony is an annual tradition for the family.

Greisinger, 64, of Monroeville said he came up with the idea after he heard a young boy tell his father that there were no fish in the cemetery's pond.

“It's like we're putting life back into the pond to commemorate her living, because in a way she's living on,” said Cathy's brother Mike, 28, of Monroeville.

Gary Greisinger's father took him to the cemetery to feed the birds, marvel at the fish and enjoy serenity when the retired radio broadcaster was a child. Greisinger in turn took his daughter there to search for deer and skate on the ice in winter.

When she died, she left behind two younger brothers, her father, mother and a community that remembers her loving heart.

They said her passion was helping others, whether that meant taking gloves to homeless men Downtown or caring for abandoned animals. Her family established a charity in her honor to continue her work helping people, from injured soldiers to needy children during the holidays. The nonprofit foundation — Cathy G. Charities — often holds fundraisers and events to benefit larger charities such as Make-A-Wish Foundation and Disabled American Veterans.

“Cathy had such a generous heart and was always giving of herself. She always wanted to help people,” said her aunt, Kim Greisinger, 49, of Wilkinsburg. “That's why we wanted to help her make a difference.”

Flowers, poems and an angel figurine adorn her burial chamber in the cemetery's mausoleum.

For those who attended the event Friday, Cathy's spirit lives, especially at the tiny fish pond.

“The sun is always shining on her,” her father said as he departed.

Christina Gallagher is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5637 or cgallagher@tribweb.com.

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