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Pastor led Millvale through flood recovery

| Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, 8:15 p.m.
Pastor George W. Mendis, 66, of Swissvale, formerly of Shaler Township, died peacefully Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, surrounded by his loving family.

Everyone in Millvale learned George Mendis' name during the massive flooding of 2004.

Co-pastor of Christ Lutheran Church and a member of the Millvale Fire Department, he worked with the North Hills Community Outreach group to form a team that helped people clear out and repair their homes when the water receded.

“That's how everybody in the town got to know who he was, because he was tearing around in his white truck,” said Caroline Mendis, his wife and fellow pastor.

The Rev. George W. Mendis died Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. He was 66.

He grew up in Latrobe attending his mother's church, Caroline Mendis said. He attended St. Vincent College and then Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, where the couple met. They were married for 41 years and have two children and two grandchildren.

They worked in New York for several years before moving back home to Pennsylvania. They were co-pastors for 25 years at Christ Lutheran Church before retiring two years ago and moving to Swissvale, Caroline Mendis said.

Rev. Mendis was famous for his theatrical Easter sermons and knew all his congregation by name and by their cars, his wife said.

As a lifetime member of the Millvale Fire Department, he served as chaplain and a fire police officer, directing traffic around the scene whenever the department was called out.

“He wasn't shy about telling people where to go and bossing them around,” Caroline Mendis said.

Giving back to the community was important to him, and he encouraged his congregation to do the same, she said.

“He felt like he could do good in the ministry, and he really did,” she said.

Rev. Mendis is survived by his wife; daughter Mary and son David; two grandchildren; and brother David Mendis.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Christ Lutheran Church, 917 Evergreen Ave., Millvale. Donations can be made to the charity of your choice.

Elizabeth Behrman is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. She can be reached at 412-320-7886 or Lbehrman@tribweb.com.

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