Aggie Brose, longtime activist for Pittsburgh neighborhoods, dies
Aggie Brose, a relentless advocate for positive change in Pittsburgh’s downtrodden neighborhoods, died Wednesday.
Brose, 84, of Stanton Heights, lived in Garfield for decades and was a founding member of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp., a nonprofit community development group.
She remained with the organization for more than 40 years, advocating for such things as better housing, safer streets and employment opportunities in the neighborhood. Brose continued to work even after her retirement as deputy director in 2017 and was among organizers who had banners erected on light poles in Lawrenceville honoring local veterans.
Brose battled with Pittsburgh City Hall over funding for neighborhood initiatives dating to the administration of Mayor Richard Caliguiri, according to Rick Swartz, executive director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp., who worked with her for more than 30 years.
“She rarely took no for an answer,” he said. “She never wanted to wave the white flag, and if one person told her no after she knocked on their door, she went to the next door and she kept going to the next door and the next until she found somebody to work with the organization.
“For some folks she could be an enormous headache because she didn’t go away. That didn’t trouble her, because she felt if you held the post, you had an obligation to the community, and if you didn’t want to be in that position then you needed to move on and do something else.”
Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. was behind the construction and rehabilitation of more than 200 single-family homes and apartments over the years, and Brose was instrumental in the creation and completion of those projects, Swartz said.
When a Bottom Dollar grocery store in Garfield announced its closing in 2014, Brose fought hard to keep it open and later enlisted Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in an effort to attract another store to the Penn Avenue location.
This city has lost a great advocate for neighborhoods with the death of Aggie Brose. She was a champion for Garfield for decades and started the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation as part of her efforts, continuing to fight for residents through tough times. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/eSET4vzkMQ
— Allegheny Co. Exec. (@ACE_Fitzgerald) July 18, 2019
“It’s like Christmas came early,” she declared in March 2015 after Aldi announced it would open a store at the site.
“I think she felt that government had a debt to communities to make sure these were places that were safe, that had decent housing, that had employment opportunities and had access to high-quality health care as well as a good quality education, but she didn’t want people sitting around waiting for somebody to do something for them,” Swartz said.
Lauren Byrne Connelly worked alongside Brose — her grandmother — for years as executive director of the community group Lawrenceville United. She said Brose treated her the same as everyone else.
“She figured out where there were resources, and she wanted to hold people in authority accountable to make sure those resources were getting to where they were supposed to be,” said Connelly, assistant director of the Allegheny County Economic Development Department. “That led to changes that I think we’re seeing all across Pittsburgh.”
Brose was the uniting force in her family, hosting pizza parties for the kids and family picnics to ensure the members were regularly together, Connelly said. She never drank alcohol, but she was always the last to leave a party.
“The people she advocated for she considered family, even people she had disagreements with,” Connelly said, adding that she’s received numerous condolences from people across the United States whom Brose knew and mentored over the years.
Brose was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas L. “Big Tommy” Brose Sr. She is survived by a son and two daughters, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Viewings are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at McCabe Bros. Funeral Home, 5300 Penn Ave., Bloomfield, where a funeral will be held at 9 a.m. Monday followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Maria Goretti Parish, 5323 Penn Ave., Bloomfield.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .