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Caregiver rose to fill need for emergency services

| Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, 9:34 p.m.

In the 1970s, emergency medical transportation in Trafford relied on the town's two funeral directors.

“One of them said, ‘I really don't know how to help these people. I can drive a car, but that's it,'” said Marty Novak, whose mother, Dorothy Novak, was a founding member of the Trafford Emergency Medical Service and became an EMT at the age of 50.

Dorothy J. Novak of Trafford died Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in the Golden Living Center in Murrysville. She was 83.

Mrs. Novak was born Sept. 5, 1929, in Rankin, the daughter of William and Anna Law Jarrett. She met her husband, John, when she was a teenager.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Mrs. Novak worked in Trafford Supermarket, mostly behind the bakery counter.

She also worked for many years as a caregiver to children and the elderly, some of whom lived in the Novak home at the end of their lives.

“She got along with people. People were just attracted to her like iron shavings to a magnet,” her son said.

In 1974, Mrs. Novak became the first woman elected to Trafford Council. Like many other women breaking into what had been mostly male occupations, her election was greeted with some sexism, Marty Novak said.

“They tried to make it difficult. They stuck her with the committee that dealt with streets and roads, figuring she couldn't handle it. To be the first woman in any occupation is difficult,” he said.

Mrs. Novak tried to persuade her fellow council members to set up an emergency medical service, but could not. She quit council after one term in 1978 and became a founding member of the Trafford Emergency Medical Service.

For about eight years, Mrs. Novak worked as an EMT. During that time, she completed the training to become a paramedic, her son said.

In addition to her son, Marty, and husband, John, Mrs. Novak is survived by two brothers, Charles Jarrett of Slippery Rock and Sherman Jarrett of Cleveland; and a sister, Gloria Jarrett of Phoenix.

She was preceded in death by her brother William Jarrett and sister Agnes Buyny.

Family and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday in John M. Dobrinick Funeral Home, 702 Seventh St., Trafford.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in the funeral home. Entombment will follow in Penn-Lincoln Mausoleum, North Huntingdon.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 412-320-7944or rwills@tribweb.com.

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