Maryann Bitsko savored each day, undaunted by challenges
Maryann Bitsko always put others first -- even leaving her beloved Pittsburgh to live with her husband in Florida.
"Being down there was a pretty big stretch, but she did that for Dad," said her stepson, Bruce Bitsko of San Diego. "When he passed away, she moved back home."
Maryann J. Bitsko of New Sewickley died Friday, April 1, 2011, in UPMC Passavant in McCandless after a massive heart attack. She was 70.
She was born on Feb. 23, 1941, to John and Mary Zurosik in Stowe. She enjoyed working as a teenager at a candy store in McKees Rocks.
After graduating from St. Mary's School in McKees Rocks, she worked as a secretary for Duer Spring in Coraopolis. There she met her future husband, Henry Aubrey.
She worked 20 years for Duer but quit her job to better care for her husband, who had cancer. He died in 1988. She remarried two years later after going on a blind date with a widower, Richard Bitsko.
He became ill with Parkinson's disease. As his illness progressed, she assumed more of the couple's driving duties and helped accommodate his condition on their many travels together.
"She took on the larger role as nurse," Bruce Bitsko said."They went on these trips, knowing it might be difficult to get around. If there were embarrassing situations, she would laugh about it."
Mrs. Bitsko was active in Silver Sneakers, an exercise group, and Red Hat Ladies, a women's group that goes on cultural trips. She volunteered in a local hospice in Florida and a nursing home where her second husband lived before he died in 2006.
"She just walked around and entertained all of the patients," said stepgranddaughter Dawn Morelli of Cranberry. "She cared about everyone else before she cared about herself."
Morelli said Mrs. Bitsko used to take her on vacations to Florida and Mexico, on day trips to Lancaster and Toronto and on weekly shopping expeditions.
"She was more like my best friend than my grandmother," Morelli said.
"Nana," as the grandchildren called her, was devoted to her half-Maltese, half-Yorkie dog named Aubrie. She dressed it up and took it on frequent walks.
Besides Bitsko and Morelli, survivors include stepson Donald Aubrey of Sewickley and eight other grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. today in Devlin Funeral Home on Rochester Road in Cranberry. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Ferdinand's Parish in Cranberry, with burial at St. Mark Cemetery in McKees Rocks.
The family asks that memorials be in the form of donations to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.