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Devout mom embraced chances to help others

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Gladys Burton Grove, 79, of O'Hara passed away Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, in Presbyterian Hospital, Pittsburgh.

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By Bill Zlatos
Sunday, March 2, 2014, 5:41 p.m.

Sitting in a car in her driveway with Gladys Grove, Linda Kirk confessed: She was lonely.

She had just moved to the Pittsburgh area, and her husband was on business in Japan, leaving her with their five children, including a newborn. Her son had broken a leg, and a daughter was injured in a car accident.

Ms. Grove responded by holding a coffee klatch for her friend to meet people, providing her with information about her new hometown and playing paddle tennis with her.

“If you were telling Gladys a problem, she would help you solve the problem or help you find a way to fix it rather than just say, ‘Oh, I'm so sorry,' and move on with something else,” said Kirk of Fox Chapel.

Gladys Burton Grove of O'Hara died in UPMC Presbyterian on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, from complications of a fall. She was 79.

She was born June 10, 1934, in Lewistown in Mifflin County to Thelma and Rex Burton. She played the clarinet and was a drum majorette in the Armagh Brown Joint High School band. She graduated from Central Pennsylvania Business College in Harrisburg with a medical secretary degree.

Among her various jobs, she worked at Louise Child Care until it folded in 2002 and at the YWCA as a liaison between the central office and the day care centers.

“Mother loved children. Mother volunteered to stay with children while the providers were in meetings, even though that wasn't her job,” said her daughter, Georgia L. Grove of Atlanta. Her mother retired from the YWCA last year.

Ms. Grove once tended to a neighbor's toddler while the woman returned to the hospital because of complications with the birth of her newborn child. On another occasion, she got time off work, flew to Atlanta and stayed with her daughter for a week to cheer her up when her friend died.

“Mother would help people on a dime,” Georgia Grove said.

Devout, Ms. Grove was an elder and deacon and sang in the choir of Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. A soprano, she sang in an international touring choir.

She played tennis, paddle tennis and golf and bowled.

“She could hit a ball like a cannon,” said Kirk, her paddle tennis partner.

She was preceded in death by a daughter, Marcia M. Grove. In addition to her daughter, Georgia, survivors include a son, Fred D. Grove of Fox Chapel, and two aunts.

Thomas M. Smith Funeral Home and Crematory Ltd. in Blawnox is handling the arrangements. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, 384 Chapel Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15238.

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

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