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'Galloping Grandma' worked her whole life

| Thursday, May 3, 2001

Her dozens of young descendants knew Mary Wojcikiewicz as their 'galloping Grandma.' Her children knew her as a woman who never quit working.

Mary C. Wojcikiewicz, a resident of Robinson Township, died from complications of old age on Tuesday, May 1, 2001, in Ohio Valley Hospital, Kennedy Township. She was 96.

As a youngster, Mary Royer dropped out of school to work and help care for her younger siblings. During World War II, she was employed at various jobs while her husband was fighting in Europe. She later supervised the laundry room of the Leach Farm Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Highland Park and involved herself in worthy causes after she retired.

Her daughter, Olive Fichter, thought the name 'Galloping Grandma' was befitting a woman on the go.

'Mom never concerned herself about her age,' said Fichter. 'She kept a schedule. She'd walk in the house and the next day, she'd be gone. But no matter how much she was on the go, she enjoyed being with all the youngsters, who looked forward to her visits.

'Mom had a fairly good voice. She belonged to a choral group of men and women who entertained the residents of nursing homes, senior citizen centers and veterans hospitals, especially during the holidays,' recalled her daughter.

Born and raised in Arona, Westmoreland County, Mary Royer was one of 11 children of the family of Mike and Frances Kontrich Royer, immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Mike Royer was employed in the mines of Westmoreland County.

In the early 1940s, she married John Wojcikiewicz of East Liberty, who as an infantryman fought in France and the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

'They were a devoted couple,' Fichter said.

John Wojcikiewicz was a painter and Mrs. Wojcikiewicz supervised the laundry room at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. 'They worked at the Vets' Hospital for years,' said Fichter.

'Mom moved around the hospital, often helping where she could, but her job was to supervise the laundry, which was a hard job and a hot one,' added Fichter.

Her mother had the reputation of being a supervisor who was fair to work for, Fichter said.

'In the past several months since Mom became ill, I received many inquiries from former employees asking how she was,' said her daughter.

Fichter recalled her mother as a devout Catholic who was a regular at Trinity Church in Robinson Township during the last 22 years of her life, and who donated to many of the church charities.

Fichter also recalled how much her mother enjoyed bowling. 'Along with John, they won numerous bowling trophies. Even after John died, Mom continued to bowl and was active with a group in Crafton called Guys & Dolls.

Mrs. Wojcikiewicz is survived by her daughters, Olive Fichter of Robinson and Jean Boss of Fort Myers, Fla.; sons, Charles Christy of Delmont, Westmoreland County and Joseph Christy of Eighty Four, Washington County; grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Wojcikiewicz is also survived by her sisters, Ann Johns of Delmont, Josephine Cortese of West Newton and Agnes Packe of New Stanton, all of Westmoreland; brothers, Robert Royer of Hunker, Westmoreland, and John Royer of Ohio.

She also was the sister of the late Caroline Lorence, Frances Zupanik and Frank Royer.

Friends received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today in the Joseph M. Somma Funeral Home, 5405 Steubenville Pike, Moon Run, Robinson Township. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at Holy Trinity Church.

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