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Nurse generous with her time, skills

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Betty (Gojkovich) Alfieri, 83, of Wilmerding.

Sick with pneumonia herself, Betty Alfieri roomed with her dying husband nine years ago in Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville.

“She nursed him until his last breath,” said their daughter, Rose Castagnola of Turtle Creek.

Betty Gojkovich Alfieri of Wilmerding died Sunday, May 12, 2013, of complications from lung cancer at Forbes. She was 83.

She was born on Jan. 7, 1930, Christmas Day in the Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church, at home in Wall to Gliso and Mila Godich Gojkovich. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father worked on the railroad. She grew up during the Depression as the eighth of 10 children. Her mother died when she was 3.

“Their dresses were made out of flour sacks sewn by family members,” Castagnola said. When Mrs. Alfieri was 12 or 13, she scrubbed floors at a bakery.

She graduated from Westinghouse Memorial High School in Wilmerding and the former Columbia Hospital School of Nursing in Wilkinsburg. Her daughter said Mrs. Alfieri, a head nurse, took care of the sick at all times of the day.She met her husband, James “Jimmy” Alfieri, at a church dance. The couple got married and founded Alfieri Funeral Home Inc. in Wilmerding.

“She didn't know her own mother, but she was a wonderful mother,” Castagnola said. “When we came from school, she was there to greet us. She scrubbed our socks and other clothes on the washboard. She was there for all our games, our sports.”

Her grandson Nick Bellich, a third- generation funeral director, said Mrs. Alfieri was very mindful of out-of-town guests of the funeral home who had no place to go for a holiday. “She would say, ‘Why don't you come upstairs and have Christmas dinner with us,' ” Bellich recalled.

In addition to her daughter Rose and grandson Nick, Mrs. Alfieri is survived by her sons, Peter Sr. of North Huntingdon and Joe of Monroeville; daughter, Mary Bellich of Wilkins; sisters, Violet Jokola of Trafford, Dolores Lonzo of Wall and Diana Yurack of Wilmerding; a brother, Peter Gojkovich of Wilmerding; 10 other grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jimmy,; sisters Mitzi Vudragovich, Mary Estok and Jennie Zigarovich; and brothers George and Paul Gojkovich.

Family and friends will be received from 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in Alfieri Funeral Home Inc., 201 Marguerite Ave. There will be a Pomen at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the funeral home. Family and friends may gather at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Nicholas Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church, 2110 Haymaker Road, Monroeville.

The Rev. D.C. Malich will officiate the service at 11 a.m. Thursday. Interment will follow in Good Shepherd Cemetery.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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