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English expert loved grammar, stray animals

| Sunday, March 25, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

Dr. Dorothy Kish, former chairwoman of the English department at Point Park College, also was known for taking stray animals into her home.

'At one time, we cared for four abandoned dogs in our home, before we turned them over to Animal Friends,' said her sister, Helen Kish.

Dr. Dorothy Kish, a resident of Squirrel Hill, died from complications from a number of health problems on Thursday, March 22, 2001, at St. Francis Rehabilitation Center, Shadyside.

She taught at Point Park, Downtown, from 1964 to 1994, serving as head of the English department from 1975 to 1988.

Helen Kish also recalled how her sister occasionally would hand her seven envelopes with checks that she would send to animal shelters and groups that were active in advocating fair treatment for animals.

One of her colleagues at Point Park, Dr. Robert Alexander, associate dean of the faculty, remembered when the sisters cared for a badly abused dog that had been left in Frick Park.

'The dog was scared and refused to be taken into their home,' he said. 'They continually fed the dog in the park until they thought it was ready to go to the Animal Friends shelter.'

Alexander recalled Dr. Kish as a quiet and self-effacing teacher, respected by her students, who set high standards when it came to the use of the English language.

'Dr. Kish stressed the fundamentals but would never settle for bad grammar,' Alexander said.

Among the faculty, Dr. Kish was highly respected for her intellectual and teaching abilities.

'She always acted in the best interest of the college,' Alexander said.

Dorothy Kish was one of six children of Stephen and Mary Feryo Kish. Her father worked in area steel mills.

Although she was awarded a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh after graduating from Homestead High School, she was unable to accept it.

'Those were Depression times, and our family couldn't afford to send her to college,' Helen Kish said.

'That didn't stop Dorothy,' she said. 'Dorothy went to work as a secretary in the engineering department at the University of Pittsburgh. She took classes, which she paid for. She even squeezed in a class during her lunch hour and attended classes in the evening to earn her bachelor's degree.'

After receiving her bachelor's in 1960 from Pitt, she worked in secretarial positions at the university while earning her master's degree in literature in 1961 and her master's of literary science in 1963.

While teaching at Point Park, she earned her Ph.D. from Pitt in 1970.

Alexander said Dr. Kish was an expert in 19th century American literature, with an emphasis on women writers.

'She was also very well-versed in American Indian literature,' he said.

After she retired, Dr. Kish worked as a volunteer archivist arranging documents at the Sen. John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center in the Strip District.

'As an archivist, Dorothy was a natural,' Alexander said. 'She was what I call an 'Americanist.' She was a person who also had a solid understanding of American history and culture.'

Helen Kish said her sister enjoyed traveling with university groups to explore areas with literary and cultural attractions.

In addition to her sister, Dr. Kish is survived by several nieces and nephews.

Interment was private. Arrangements by the John Freyvogel Sons Funeral Home, 4900 Centre Ave., Oakland. A memorial will be held at a future date.

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