1999 – Mary Wohleber

Mary Wohleber is a life-long Northsider and a fourth-generation resident of Troy Hill. She is a former kindergarten teach who taught for 24 years in the school her grandparents helped to build. Both of her parents, she and her husband, and all their children attended it. She has served on the board of the Davy Fund for Heinz House Scholarships, is on the board of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, and serves on the Committee for the Preservation of Religious Properties.

She has a deep commitment to preserving history by her writing and community activism. St. Anthony’s Chapel on Troy Hill was falling into disrepair in the 1970’s. She led the charge to save it. She took the old slates from the roof, cleaned and painted them, and sold them for $5 each to raise money for the Chapel’s restoration.

She is the author of the book, History of the City of Allegheny Fire Department. The book draws on two early histories of the Allegheny City fire department and her own research, which she began in her spare time while juggling three jobs in the 1970s.

Mary is our treasure of the North Side. The rest of the world found out about her in Rick Sebak’s “North Side Story” on PBS. The week before the public release, some of us were fortunate to view a selection of the out-takes from that video. In the scene where Mary is running over to the edge of the hill, they cut out the section where you can hear Rick wheezing and gasping for air.