Observatory Hill


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Summer 2017 Newsletter
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People In Our Community

In Memoriam:  Margaret Z. Perlik

Peg lived on the North Side since she was a little girl.  She moved to Observatory Hill to her row home on Watson Boulevard, with her late husband William in the late 1950's, where she raised three children, Peggy (George) Reskovac, Pam Linamen, and the late Peter Perlik (surviving wife Micky).   

Ms. Perlik worked for the CIA in Washington, DC and for US Steel in Pittsburgh.  She also worked as a teacher for the Diocese of Pittsburgh for 33 years at various schools around the area, and the last 18 years at St. Malachy in Kennedy Township.  She was involved in several community activities, including Incarnation Ladies Guild, AARP #1435 as the Sunshine Lady, and was the Membership Coordinator for OHI.  Ms. Perlik also participated in Therapeutic Waves.  Ms. Perlik loved going to lunch with her friends and being with her family, which includs 8 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. She also was recognized as a NSLC Neighborhood Leader in 2011. She will be deeply missed.

Donations can be made to Forbes Hospice Foundation, 2570 Haymaker Road, Monroeville, PA  15146.  

Community Hero Scott Pipitone

Scott Pipitone, CEO and owner of Pipitone Group on Perrysville Avenue in Observatory Hill, was named the first Small Business Community Hero by Direct Energy and Pittsburgh Magazine.  Additionally, they are celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year.  

Mr. Pipitone was presented with two checks of $1,000 to two charities of his choice from Direct Energy and Pittsburgh Magazine to Presbyterian SeniorCare Foundation and the Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support, a division of Ursuline Senior Services. Staff, clients, and vendors of Pipitone Group celebrated Mr. Pipitone's honor with a celebration in the parking lot near his building.  Read more about Pipitone Group on their blog.

Additional links:

Tribune Review Article
Direct Energy Press Release

Memorial Fund for Joanne Hollinger

Joanne Hollinger, a North sider and volunteer clown who amused and delighted audiences for 25 years, died in September the age of 70.  Her best known persona was that of "Petunia" the clown, who wore a flowered dress with an aqua-blue vest, a purple wig, a little straw hat and giant blue leather shoes.  Ms. Hollinger frequently clowned for Children's Hospital and local charities benefiting veterans.  She once clowned at the White House annual Easter Egg Roll under President George H.W. Bush.  Some of her regular volunteer performances included the annual Veterans Boat Ride on the Gateway Clipper, and Rolling Thunder, a group that advocates for prisoners of war and MIA service members.  

While clowning was Ms. Hollinger's greatest passion, those who knew her best were the people she came to know at Riverview Dog Park on the North Side, which she visited every evening with her 95-pound dog named Sir Walter. 

"Joanne was actually my first friend in Pittsburgh," said Katie Wagner, a Brighton Heights resident who works in human resources
 at BNY Mellon, Downtown.  "I met her three years ago when I moved here from Tennessee.   I went to the dog park and the very first person to greet me was Joanne."

"She joked around with me about my accent. But that's how I knew she liked me. She was funny and welcoming and you just felt at home around her. I kept coming back because of Joanne. She became part of a new family for me because I have no family here and didn't know anyone at all," said Ms. Wagner, who is heading up the memorial fund. 
Ms. Hollinger did not speak with her friends at the dog park about her illness.  However, she continued to come to the dog park every in light of her illness.  Up until her death, she performed as a clown at a charity event for special needs children.  

"I believed she was going to make it because she told me her time was not done," Ms. Wagner said.  "She said she still had children she needed to cheer up as a clown."

In remembrance of Ms. Hollinger and in celebration of her incredible life, Ms. Wagner and her friends at the Riverview Dog Park have come together to honor her memory.  They have made arrangements with the city of Pittsburgh to have a memorial park bench installed with a plaque and an inscription.  Ms. Wagner also arranged for a Dogwood tree to be planted in the dog park.  The inscription on the bench will read:

MARCH 19, 1942-SEPTEMBER 12, 2012          

Ms. Wagner hopes the bench and tree will serve as a symbol of how Ms. Hollinger's spirit, love, and laughter lives on and in all of our hearts.
If you have been touched by Ms. Hollinger and would like to make a donation, please send a check or Money Order made payable to "Treasurer, City of Pittsburgh" to the Joanne Hollinger Memorial Fund written on the memo line and send  to Dept. of Public Works c/o Chuck O’Neill, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh PA 15219.


William  Schmidt
1954 - 2013

Bill Schmidt, OHI’s Neighbor of the Year in 2009, passed away early Wednesday morning, February 20, 2013.  He was an active businessman in Observatory Hill for more than thirty years.  Mr. Bill, as he was known, owned and operated Commodore Café and Mr. Bill’s Tavern on Perrysville Avenue. 

He was involved in supporting community projects, volunteer groups, and sponsoring youth activities.  He brought spirit and friendship to the neighborhood and dressed up as Santa Claus, traveling up and down Observatory Hill streets passing out candy canes on the days before Christmas.   

In 1978, Mr. Schmidt moved into the community from the North Hills where he worked in the steel industry.  When he was laid off, he attended business classes at CCAC and later purchased Rich Bedding at 3919 Perrysville Avenue in 1985.  At that time he became involved in the Perry North Merchant’s Association with Chairman Andy Balint.   Their involvement on the committee was recognized as a Community Merchant’s Association and won funding for the commercial strip to participate in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Street Face program.  

Mr. Schmidt sponsored youth activities over the past 20 years including the 1987 BMX Club called The North Side Super Crew.  He gave much of the responsibility for running the club to the kids themselves, allowing them to design their own t-shirts and using a snow cone machine to generate revenue.  In 1995, Mr. Schmidt renovated another building at 3949 Perrysville called Little Dippers of Observatory Hill, an ice cream shop.  He used the business to give local neighborhood kids real-life business experience, earning recognition from WPXI’s Darieth Chisolm in a segment called “Productive Kids in Pittsburgh."

In 2000, Mr. Schmidt renovated a space that a former senior center occupied into a restaurant he called the Commodore Café, after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.  He played host to several neighborhood community events.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth; a son, David; his step-sons Joshua, Ben, and Eric Crankshaw; and his step-daughter Anastasia Bolen.  


In Memoriam:  Moses Carper
By:  Kelsey Shea

(Reprinted from The Northside Chronicle)

  As a former president of Observatory Hill Inc., an eco-steward in Riverview Park, a nonprofit founder and board member at the Manchester Academic Charter School, Moses Carper wore many hats in and around the North side.

However, none were quite as infamous as the cowboy hat he wore on his head along with chaps and boots.

Known as the “black cowboy” of the Northside, Carper is remembered for the horses he cared for in Riverview Park and the equestrian and agrarian experiences he worked to give inner city kids.

Carper passed away last month at the age of 81, but left a significant impact on the communities he lived and worked in.

Carper was a long-time resident of Observatory Hill where he lived on property owned by his grandfather.

He served as on the board of directors of OHI from 2008 to 2011, and served as a volunteer at the visitors center of Riverview Park at the time of his death.

“Those who knew him remember him as a kind, patient and thoughtful man who had a love of young people of all ages and backgrounds,” remembered OHI member Jane Sestric. “He shared his knowledge and love of animals and nature with many park visitors and friends.  The contributions he made to the Northside will live on for years to come.”

Carper’s most notable impact on the Northside was his work in Riverview Park.

In addition to maintaining stables at the north east corner of the park, Carper was one of the founding members of Friends or Riverview Park. He worked as an eco-steward through the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and brought young volunteers into maintain flowerbeds.

He also based his nonprofit, Chiyou Corral, out of the park and organized Riverview Heritage Day each year.  

“When I was little, I thought my dad owned Riverview Park,” recalled Carper’s daughter Phaedra Carper, who grew up in the Northside with chickens, horses and even a pet goat named Nubi.

Pressley Ridge Chief Learning Officer, Jim Doncaster knew Moses for 20 years; first as a fellow volunteer and Friends of Riverview Park founder and later working with Pressley Ridge kids and the Riverview Park horses.

Doncaster recalled working with Carper to “reclaim a park that had been let go,” before the advocacy and creation of groups like the park conservancy.

Together they organized litter pickups and flower planting and even hauled several stolen cars that were stowed far into the park. However, Doncaster explained that he remembers that work fondly.

“When you worked with Moses, it didn’t really feel like work,” he said.

Doncaster later brought Pressley Ridge students to ride and interact with the Carper’s horses and work in the park.

Carper had a masters degree in child psychology and was known for connecting well with children.

“He was just wonderful with children,” said Doncaster.  “He was very patient and relaxed and kids really took to him.” 

Carper also founded his own nonprofit in the Northside called Chiyou Corral, which aimed to provide inner-city kids with opportunities to experience a more rural lifestyle and encouraged stewardship though equestrian activities.  

Carper also served on the board of Manchester Academic Charter School.Outside of the Northside.

Carper worked with the Hill House and with prison inmates to adjust to life outside of prison.

Moses is survived by his six children.


Recognizing our Neighbors through the Northside Leadership Conference

Every year, the Northside Leadership Conference (NSLC) recognizes people in the community who have excelled in volunteering and leadership in the community.  In Observatory Hill, we have had the pleasure of many people serving our community in various ways, from their work in Riverview Park to neighborhood clean-ups to public service to house tours to working with children in our community.  The following is a list of past recipients who have received the NSLC award for our community.

2022  Denise Colbert

2019  Joann Pomietto

2019  Jane and Rich Sestric:  Lifetime Achievement

2018   Bonita Kwolek

2017   Regina Scott
2016   Timothy and Leslee Schaffer

2015   Janet Pazzynski
2014   Roxanne Tuinstra
2013   Donnie Friel
2012   Ken Pomietto
2011 Peg Perlik
2010   Jane Sestric
2009   Bill Schmidt
2008   Dr. Tom and Maureen Uhler
2007   Dave Wilson
2006   Susan Rooney
2005   Julia Vidic
2004   W. Moses Carper
2003   Barbara Lee Pace
2002   Scott and Stella Pipitone
2001   Susan Rooney
2000   Dave Gilbreath
1999   Andy Balint
1998   Jeff Fisher
1997   Skip McCrea

1996   Dr. Tom and Maureen Uhler
1995   Mark Masterson
1994   Lynn Schraf

1989   Joyce Smith
1988   Mary Jane Berry