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Teacher's aide shared passion for arts, learning

| Sunday, May 15, 2011

As a daughter who was born into a mining family of 12 children, Betty Evancho never had the opportunity to pursue her love of music and the arts.

But when her children showed an interest, Mrs. Evancho found ways to give them lessons, said her daughter, Marci Mason, who teaches art in Trinity Christian School in Forest Hills.

Mrs. Evancho's love of the arts filtered down to her great-grandchildren. Great-grandaughter Jackie Evancho of Richland was a finalist in "America's Got Talent" and is a recording artist.

Elizabeth M. "Betty" Figulski Evancho of Turtle Creek, died on Friday, May 13, 2011, in Magee-Womens Hospital in Oakland. She was 95.

Born in Mt. Pleasant and raised in Turtle Creek, Elizabeth Figulski was one of 12 children in the family of miner Joseph Figulski and his wife, Marcyanna Lewandowski Figulski, who emigrated from Poland.

In 1934, after graduating from Union High School -- a predecessor to Turtle Creek High School -- she was employed at several small jobs before meeting Joseph Evancho, whom she married in 1937.

To help the war effort during World War II, Mrs. Evancho worked for Westinghouse, while her husband served as a combat infantryman in Europe.

Mrs. Evancho was a devout Catholic, her daughter said, and her home phone was considered by many to be a prayer "hot line." Mrs. Evancho prayed the Rosary throughout the day, her daughter said.

"Through the years, my mother received numerous calls from friends and acquaintances who were experiencing health or personal problems and asked her to pray for them," said Mason.

Mrs. Evancho was an officer of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary and was a member of the Catholic Daughters of America.

She worked as a teacher's aide for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit assigned to St. Colman Church in Turtle Creek and Wilkins Elementary School.

"Mom made the time and had the patience to help students who had trouble reading and spelling," said Mrs. Mason. "Some of them became so attached to my mother that they would call her years later to tell her how much she helped them and inspired them."

In addition to her daughter, Marci, Mrs. Evancho is survived by her 94-year-old husband, Joseph Evancho; children, Connie Morenzi of Turtle Creek, Marjorie Tinsley of Monroeville and Bill Evancho of Gibsonia; 16 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her siblings, Charles, Joseph, Clint, Warren, Helen, Regina, Dorothy, Edna, Irene and two infant brothers.

Friends will be welcomed from 4 to 8 p.m. today and 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home, Turtle Creek/Monroeville Chapel, 1111 Monroeville Ave. at James St., Turtle Creek.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Colman Church, 100 TriBoro Ave., Turtle Creek.

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