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Shadyside church member known for quiet generosity

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By Jerry Vondas
Saturday, May 29, 2010
 

Throughout her long life, Dorothy Pontious cherished a gift her parents gave her when she graduated from high school in 1932.

"It was the opportunity to attend Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) in Shadyside," said Marlin Mickle of Oakland, a friend and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

"Those were Depression years and very few families could afford to send a son or a daughter to college," Mickle added.

Dorothy A. Pontious of Oakland died on Monday, May 24, 2010, in UPMC Shadyside. She was 95.

In honor of her parents, Miss Pontious established the Charles and Ida Pontious Endowed Scholarship at Chatham in 2004 and, two years later, established the Charles and Ida Pontious Distinguished Endowed Chair, also at Chatham.

"She seldom talked about her gifts," Mickle said. "Dorothy was humble when it came to discussing her generosity."

Born and raised in the East End, Miss Pontious was an only child in the family of Charles Storey and Ida Poehlmann Pontious. Her father managed the Graff Pharmacy in East Liberty.

Upon graduating from college in 1935, Miss Pontious held a number of small jobs prior to joining Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

"She was a data processing manager and is credited for automating the company's recordkeeping prior to her retirement in December 1979," Mickle said.

"She was a most dignified lady and an outstanding friend whom I will cherish all my life."

Miss Pontious was admired for her commitment to her church, the Albright United Methodist Church in Shadyside, where she was involved with numerous activities, including the Thanksgiving Day dinner, which was open to all.

Charles Klemz, a cook at Ritter's Diner in Bloomfield, often escorted Miss Pontious to church for Communion. He recalled Miss Pontious' advice and encouragement when he was Scoutmaster for a special-needs Boy Scout troop.

"She was a fantastic woman and an inspiration to the children of our church," said Klemz. They looked up to her, because of her interest in them, and this included my children and grandchildren."

A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. today in the Temple of Memories at Allegheny Cemetery, 4734 Butler St., Lawrenceville.

Arrangements are being handled by John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc.

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