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Organist from Wexford used music, education to practice faith

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 5:56 p.m.
Elfrieda J. 'Fifi' Utz, 87, of Wexford, died Friday, Jan. 25, 2013.

Fifi Utz was best remembered for her musical talents, which included singing in the choir and playing the organ in Salem United Methodist Church in Wexford.

And in her career as a home economist, Mrs. Utz was recognized for knowledge and talents in helping women in their homes.

“When electric ranges became popular following World War II, she would visit the homes of West Penn Power customers who bought an electric range and instruct them on proper usage,” said her husband, Charles “Chuck” Utz.

Elfrieda “Fifi” J. Utz of Wexford died on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, in her home. She was 87.

“When my wife decided she wanted to do something, such as playing the piano and the organ, she let nothing stop her. She took lessons and spent hours practicing, and then spent 44 years as the organist at our church,” her husband said.

“Fifi was a woman who practiced her faith by using both her musical talents and background in home economics to benefit our church. Besides preparing young men and women for service to our church, she gave piano lessons in our home.”

Born in Germany and raised in Troy Hill and Wexford, Mrs. Utz was an only child of shoemaker John Runner and his wife, Elizabeth.

“Fifi and I first met while we were attending Mars High School,” Mr. Utz said. “When we graduated in 1943, Fifi went to Penn State, where she received her degree. I entered the Army Air Corps and ended up as a tail gunner of a B-29.”

The couple married in 1948.

“Although we devoted ourselves to raising our children and providing them with college educations, we made time to be with each other. We both skied and went boating,” he said.

In addition to her husband, Chuck, Mrs. Utz is survived by her children, Linda Coulson of Clarion, Barry Utz of Mars and Bonnie Herold of Middlesex; 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by a son, Roy Utz.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in Salem United Methodist Church, 350 Manor Road, Wexford. Arrangements are being handled by George A. Thoma Funeral Home, Wexford.

Jerry Vondas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7823 or jvondas@tribweb.com.

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