By: Esther L. Barazzone, Ph.D., President
May 26, 2010
To the Chatham Community,
I am sorry to inform you that we have lost one of our dearest alumnae, benefactors and friends – Dorothy Pontious, Class of 1935. Dorothy always sought to enhance the academic experience at Chatham through the memory of her parents, who had helped her attend Pennsylvania College for Women during the Great Depression. She established the Charles and Ida Pontious Endowed Scholarship, the Charles and Ida Pontious Distinguished Endowed Chair, and just last December to mark our 140th anniversary, the Pontious Distinguished Lecturer. Our students and the entire campus community benefited from her generosity.
Dorothy’s obituary and funeral arrangements are reprinted below from today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sadly, this fall would have marked her 75th reunion year. She was an incredible woman with a wonderful personality and a charming wit, and we will truly miss her.
Dorothy A. Pontious, 95, passed away Monday, May 24, 2010 after a brief illness. Born July 12, 1914 in Pittsburgh’s East End, she was the daughter of Ida Poehlmann and Charles Storey Pontious. Dorothy graduated from Peabody High School and from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) in 1935. A life-long employee of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, she was a data processing manager and is credited for automating the company’s recordkeeping prior to her retirement in December 1979.
As a student during the Depression, Dorothy was acutely aware and appreciative of the difficulties her parents faced in sending her to college. Because of this, in 2002 she undertook to honor her parents by establishing the Charles and Ida Pontious Endowed Scholarship at Chatham University. Dorothy explained, “Because of my parents’ commitment, Chatham left me with many wonderful memories. Times were difficult when I entered PCW, so the fact that I was able to attend college at all was a great gift from my parents.” In August 2004, she established the Charles and Ida Pontious Distinguished Endowed Chair at Chatham. “Dorothy Pontious was quietly and gracefully generous in her gifts to Chatham. She endowed the Charles and Ida Pontious Professorship, which I am honored to hold, yet she always directed the spotlight away from herself. She was truly modest and humble,” noted Dr. William Lenz, professor of English and recipient of the Pontious Chair.
Dorothy was honored at Chatham’s 140th Anniversary Celebration on December 3, 2009, at which time author Linda Lear, the inaugural Pontious Distinguished Lecturer, presented “A Tale of Two Victorian Rebels: Beatrix Potter and Rachel Carson.” Chatham President Esther Barazzone expressed her gratitude, saying, “Dorothy was a leader, in intellect and in her work life. She was one of the earliest women to work in technology and computers and had a great interest in international travel. Chatham was the grateful beneficiary of her memorial to her parents and their belief in her, and in education for women, with her many gifts to the University, most notably the Charles and Ida Pontious Endowed Chair.”
Dorothy will be remembered for her generosity of spirit as well. Dr. Marlin H. Mickle, a friend of Dorothy’s for more than 30 years, stated, “Dorothy was a most dignified lady and an outstanding friend whom I will cherish all my life,” a sentiment echoed by those who knew her. Dorothy was an avid traveler and reader. She was a faithful member of Albright United Methodist Church and was active in Zonta International and Pacers and the Monday Luncheon Club. Dorothy was preceded in death by her mother and father and an infant sister. She is survived by her dear friend Marlin Mickle. Friends will be received on Friday, May 28th from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at JOHN A. FREYVOGEL SONS, INC. 4900 Centre Avenue at Devonshire Street, Pittsburgh (412-621-1665). Funeral Service will be 10 a.m. Saturday at theTemple of Memories at Allegheny Cemetery, 4734 Butler Street.
Dorothy’s online guestbook is available here.