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Healy-Hahn Funeral Home, Inc.

512 Grant Ave, Pittsburgh, PA

OBITUARY

Mary Grace Lamperski

November 20, 1931June 13, 2020
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Mary Grace (Gillner) Lamperski, of Reserve Township, Pennsylvania, passed away on June 13, 2020 at the age of 88. Born in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, she was the second of three children of Henry and Marie Gillner. She was a devoted wife to George Lamperski of 52 years before his passing in 2004.

She is survived by her eight children, Curtis (the late Gloria), Christopher (Norma), Melaine Kachmar (Len), Lloyd (Stephanie), Ellyn Martin (the late James), Adele Rutherford (Ken), Brendan (Susan), and Blaine (Sarah), twenty-one grandchildren, and seventeen great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters Florine Newcamp Winschel and Eileen Walker, along with nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews and other relatives, including George Nickel.

After they married, George and Mary Grace planted hundreds of pine trees along the hills surrounding their home. Their vision of nurturing plants led them to operate Pine-Dell Nursery for over 30 years. Their love of everything beautiful was instilled in their children.

Mary Grace was a kind and generous soul, devout Catholic, who dedicated her life to her family. She lived independently until shortly before her passing. She enjoyed being with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her extended family. A full life lived with “no regrets.”

Family and friends will be received on Monday, June 15, 2020 at Healy-Hahn Funeral Home, Inc., 512 Grant Avenue, Millvale, Pennsylvania 15209, from 3:00-8:00 PM. A Mass of Christian burial to occur Tuesday June 16, 2020 at 10:00 AM at Holy Spirit Church at 608 Farragut Street, Millvale, Pennsylvania 15209 and interment at St. Augustine Cemetery, 250 Wible Run Road, Shaler, Pennsylvania 15209. To send an online condolence, please visit www.healyhahnfuneralhomes.com.

Services

  • Visitation

    Monday, June 15, 2020

  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Memories

Mary Grace Lamperski

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Marilyn & Dave Ratermann

June 23, 2020

We are so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. She was the kind and friendly voice we heard on the other end of the phone at the office at Lamperski Internal Medicine. We just heard about her passing yesterday. What a beautiful, wonderful life and family you portrayed in your writings about her. Our sincere condolences to all of your family.

Marilyn & Dave Ratermann

Valerie Mackiewicz Sins

June 22, 2020

We were very sorry to hear about your mother's passing. Unfortunately we did not find out in time for the viewing or the funeral. We would have liked to wish our condolences in person.
Your parents were such warm and kind people. Your mother was such a sweet and lovely lady.
All of you are in our thoughts and prayers at this time of such sorrow.
Hold on to all of the wonderful memories.
With deepest sympathy,
The Mackiewicz Family

Valerie Richard

June 21, 2020

Mary Grace ("Mambo") was a remarkable woman and truly a servant of God! I always felt special in her presence! - beautiful inside and out! Her laughter and love of others reflected Jesus! She was indescribable! I am deeply sorry for your loss!

Joanl Hespenheide

June 15, 2020

My memory of Mary Grace was that she always showed love and friendship no matter who you were. It just flowed from her. I have missed her and I have loved her as a dear friend. Mary Grace was a wonderful and beautiful lady, I will keep her and her family in my heart and prayers, love Joan.

Kimberly Kalista

June 15, 2020

Curtis, since our families have shared so many good times together growing up I often think of us as relatives. Keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers. Your Mom was such a wonderful woman. God bless Mary Grace and May she Rest In Peace. XOXO

Bob & Elena Zunic

June 14, 2020

Please accept our deepest condolences at this heartrending time. We always enjoyed spending time with Mary Grace at family gatherings, especially at David & Marina's house.

With our love and heartfelt sympathy,
Bob & Elena Zunic

FROM THE FAMILY
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FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
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FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Mary Grace Gillner was born on November 20,1931 to Henry Gillner and Marie Nickel Gillner. She was raised on a large farm on Middle Road in Glenshaw, where raising strawberries and other vegetables were the means to support a growing family. Her father was known as the "Strawberry King". The land was reported to be purchased from the Seneca Indians years before my grandfather owned it. As he would plow the fields with his team of horses, they would find many arrowheads in the soil. His personal horse was named "Spider". The farm was located where the current Middle Road Fire Department stands.... they owned 80 acres. They had no running water and stored their food and got their drinking water from the springhouse, which offered cool, clean water. Mom would tell many stories about the hard times and fun times of farm life. She always hated "slaughter day" at the farm, as one of her cousins was said to have cut off the tail of a pig and pinned it to the back of her dress! Another fond memory she shared was on a wintery cold Christmas Eve...a white-gloved hand was seen writing BE GOOD backwards on the steamy window from outside, so the three girls would see that Santa Claus was on the premises. She shared her youth with her sisters Florine and Eileen. Mom was the middle child with a year spacing for each daughter. They attended St. Mary's of Glenshaw Catholic Church and school. She was surrounded by many Gillner, Meier, and Bittner relatives in the surrounding area. After they moved to Geyer Road in Reserve Township, and after years of hardship after the Depression, the farm fell on hard times, for the remaining relatives and failure to pay O'Hara taxes cost them the farm.
In the year 1900, the property on Geyer Road was started.... by the mid-1920's, my mother's grandparents, Joseph and Flora Nickel, purchased the land and house and added another addition. We have hundreds of work orders and installation invoices found in the attic to accurately date each revision and milestone. The road was changed several times and even the address was known to have changed three times during its lifetime. My sister Melaine currently owns and maintains the property, which saw many happy times and many sad times, as most homes do. One such sad story occurred in the mid-1920's, when my grandmother, Marie Nickel, married Jack Kessler. They married and resided for a very short time in Lawrenceville, where she managed the family bakery, NICKEL'S BAKERY, at 5329 Butler Street, and the family home was a few doors down at 5321 Butler Street. Jack was cleaning the basement of the home on Geyer Road when he was reportedly bitten by a brown spider and died shortly after at St. Francis Hospital. This was the hospital where Grandma Nickel's youngest sister, Tessie Nickel, died young from Spinal Meningitis, and shortly after serving as the flower girl at Gram's wedding.
A few years later, my Grandmother put her hand in the Holy Water font at St Augustine's Church in Lawrenceville at the same time her "future" husband, Henry Gillner, also dipped his hand in the font. Apparently, he was always smitten with Gram at the bakery, but it was this solemn moment that started their relationship. In the mid 1930's, Joseph and Flora Nickel, who had traveled from Germany to start a life in America, had passed away. They left a legacy of raising many children, a bakery, and a beautiful estate for their descendants. When Mom was about 11 years old, they moved from the country farm to the home in Reserve Township ...actually, the driveway was so long that part of the property was in Shaler Township. Mom and her sisters attended St. Anthony's School in Millvale and then Mt. Alvernia High School, also located in Millvale.
Mom attended a dance at St. Anthony Church’s lyceum (aka Holy Spirit Parish) in 1947, where she met my father, George J. Lamperski. It was love at first sight, and their devotion kept them together while Dad served in the Army during the Korean Conflict. He would drive home as often as possible, as he was stationed in New Jersey. She started braiding a wool rug from old suits, and every time he came home, she had more rug to show him. There are many photographs that show its growth.... as the rug grew, so did their love and desire to have a future together.
When Mom was recently in the hospital, she spent her healthy hours poring over old photos to help identify relatives, but also to tell THEIR STORY. This difficult time in her life was a gift... she finally had time to sit and reflect.... an opportunity a mother of eight rarely was given. She remembered every dress in each photo.... and told of the fabric she bought to sew each lovely outfit. She also explained each room in the house and its purpose.... her current kitchen was once the "sewing room"... after she married Dad on May 10, 1952, that room became their bedroom. All of these things were lucky to have been revealed.... now the photos make sense!
Mom and Dad were married at St. Anthony's Church in Millvale by Father Kapp. He can be remembered by his favorite line, "You will get your reward in Heaven". They celebrated with a party at the house on Geyer Road, with Eileen Gillner Walker as her Maid of Honor, and her sister Florine Gillner Newcamp Winschel and best friend Joan Leuzinger as her bridesmaids. She bought her tea length dress at Carlisle’s on the North Side. Aunt Florine had a blue dress from her friend’s wedding, and Eileen and Joan recreated that same dress and made a pink one for Eileen and a yellow one for Joan. Mom and Dad honeymooned on a break from the Army at Watkins Glen in NY and surrounding areas. They took many photos of their adventures!
Before he started his stint in the Army, Dad worked for Century Motors in Sharpsburg as a salesman. After the Army, Dad had several jobs that led him and Mom to live in Detroit, MI, and New Castle, PA, where, by the time they were married three years, they had four children under the age of two! Curt and Chris (twins) were born in 1953, Melaine in 1954, and then Lloyd in 1955. Mom was alone on a farm caring for four babies, while Dad was out on the road working as a salesman for Soilax, the makers of Kiwi Shoe Polish. Later, they moved back to Pittsburgh, and more twins (Ellyn and Adele) were born, and then Brendan, and then Blaine. When Dad would come home, he and Mom would plant pine tree seedlings all over the hills surrounding the big house, currently filled with Henry and Marie Gillner (Henry died of Hodgkin’s Disease shortly after Mom and Dad’s wedding), Aunt Florine and Uncle Chuck, their four kids, and my Aunt Eileen.
When the family slowly moved on, Dad and Mom created Pine-Dell Nursery. It became the family business, full of very hard work.... low wages ... possibly a dime a day for the Coke Machine, but it was the catalyst that instilled a strong work ethic amongst the Lamperski children. The pond in the rear of the property supplied the water for the trees, flowers and vegetables that were sold. On Halloween one year, we were all dressed in our costumes ready to hit the nearest town, Bauerstown, when Dad got the call that Homer Rennick was on his way with about 350 Christmas trees...we had to take off our outfits and unload the trees and stack them neatly against the hillside, so that we could start selling them to the public. They were PRETTY DRY by Christmas!
Dad and Mom were very resourceful in the months that plants did not sell. They sacrificed everything so that all of us could attend Catholic schools and college. We all went to St. Anthony's Grade School in Millvale, the boys then went to North Catholic, and the girls went to Mount Alvernia. Eventually, Curt, Melaine, Ellyn, Adele, and Blaine attended Duquesne University. Chris, Lloyd, and Brendan attended the University of Pittsburgh. Mom would pull honeysuckle from the hillsides, Dad had so many side-gigs.... selling keychains and name pins to amusement parks and the zoo, selling panty hose in beauty shops...selling Mr. Groom dog products, and we even made roach killer called SUREKILL in our basement, and sold it by mail under the name RAREMAILCO. One year, Dad contracted with Iron City Beer to provide 10,000 individually wrapped pine tree seedlings for Arbor Day. That was a true "Cottage Industry"...we had tin tubs filled with Sphagnum moss in every room of the house.... NO STUDYING that week! Even Grandma Gillner was wrapping seedlings!
Dad and Mom needed a really big car to transport eleven people, so they bought used Cadillac limousines from local funeral homes for that purpose. He decided in the "off" months of the business that he would become a chauffeur. We had ONE client ...one time.... it was amusing as we spent all day Sunday washing and waxing the car, inside and out. When the customer called to confirm the "pick-up"...Dad asked him, "How will I recognize you?" ...the man replied, “I will be under the Kaufmann's Clock in downtown Pittsburgh.... I will be carrying a cane...I am blind". We worked so hard cleaning a car he would never see!
My grandmother fell in 1968 and broke her hip, causing her to be bedridden for the last 20 years of her life. She had several other falls that kept her in poor health. Mom cared for her, cared for eight children, and also worked hard at the family business. Our business sign, visible on the telephone pole from our house, read: “Hours: Dawn Until Dusk”. Mom never had a break, but always cooked delicious meals for eleven people every day. Always on a budget, she stretched all ingredients, but you would NEVER know that some days were "lean".... always a cake or a homemade pie to eat after dinner. We all ate together, said grace together, and at night would say the Rosary together.
Through the years, Mom juggled a million balls in the air, but always made time for flower arranging. Her passion inspired her kids to value the creativity in seeing a boring vase become a work of art. She made many of our clothes...even made rag dolls for the twins on their 5th birthday! She also loved birds of every kind, and all of her children and grandchildren populated her home with bird-inspired statues and pictures. She led a simple life...a hard life, but left her descendants the skills to make "something out of nothing" and still make it a beautiful life.
Mom worked every day, until she became ill near Thanksgiving of 2019. She drove daily to her sons’ medical practice, Lamperski Internal Medicine, where she worked for over thirty years! Her little white Jeep made it up her scary snow-covered driveway with ease, and she enjoyed the companionship of my brothers and co-workers … she also LOVED the drug-rep free lunches! Working daily until you are 88 years old is a gift only God could provide. Her deep faith in God, and especially the guidance of Holy Mary, kept her strong until the end. She was ready to be with God, and she told us so many times, that that in itself was probably the KINDEST present she could bestow. When a child worries and frets over a parent’s passing.... no doubt it is eased when the parent DAILY is vocal that she is NOT AFRAID, and ready to be with God. She paved the way to her death with voicing her convictions over and over again until we ACCEPTED it as the only way forward. Without her strong faith and loving talks, her passing would have been disabling for some of us, but she eased us into the idea like a person wading into freezing water.... eventually, you get used to it ... eventually, it does not sting as much, and eventually, it becomes warm and inviting. We will love you until we meet again in Heaven. Until then, we will do our best to make you proud!