Maria Dietz (Gallagher)
Maria Ann Dietz died peacefully on Friday, May 25, 2018, at Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Maria was born June 14, 1940, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, to Byron and Marjorie Gallagher.
She grew up in Mt. Pleasant and attended Sacred Heart Academy through the end of high school. She continued her education at Mercy College of Detroit. At Mercy College, Maria studied English, performed in musical theater productions, and played the organ. She spent a summer studying and speaking French in Québec, Canada.
Maria always loved music. Throughout her life, she studied the piano, and during high school, she played the organ at masses, weddings, and funerals at Sacred Heart Parish in Mt. Pleasant. At college, she continued to play the organ and piano and she sang in several musical theater productions.
Right after college, she began a teaching career at Southfield High School in Detroit, where she taught English and French. She continued to study voice and sang in churches in the Detroit area. She met her husband John Dietz during this time, and they were married in 1965. They started their family in Michigan, moved to Iowa for several years, and then came to Indiana, Pennsylvania, with their four children in 1972.
Maria’s husband and children were a great source of comfort and pride to her. She devoted countless hours to support her children’s activities in the community, at school, and at St. Thomas Moore Parish. She supported John in his role as a music professor at IUP, sometimes as an accompanist on the piano for student voice lessons.
In 1986, Maria began a career in community relations at the Open Door counseling center in Indiana as the volunteer coordinator for its 24-hour crisis intervention hotline. She ran and further developed the program to train volunteers for over 20 years. She trained many community members and college students to answer crisis calls. She also worked with suicide prevention programs.
Maria thoroughly enjoyed the people in her life. She loved her husband, her children, and her friends. She cared deeply for extended family and made a point of keeping up with birthdays and other activities in their lives. She was an active member of St. Thomas More University Parish. She organized advertising for the church’s annual book sale for many years, including through this past fall. She loved to play bridge, and she met with friends every month to socialize and play cards.
One of Maria’s interests throughout life was the history of the British Royal Family. She became interested at age 7 with the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Philp, Duke of Edinburgh. She remembered being invited to the local movie theater for a screening of the wedding newsreels. When Elizabeth became queen in 1952, Maria’s mother made a special coronation cake and Maria followed the news up to the Queen’s coronation in 1953. She collected rare articles and photographs and made many friends through this interest.
Maria leaves behind her children Elizabeth Dietz Lucco (Steven); Stephanie Babion Dietz (Warren Shlomchik); John David Dietz and Eric Paul Dietz (Michele). She is also survived by wonderful grandchildren: Henry and Frances Lucco; Matthew and Andrew Shlomchik; Isabella and Emma Dietz. She is survived by a loving family: her stepmother Ethel Gallagher, sisters Marjory Basile, Kathleen Mellon, Lisbeth Nolde, Laurie Altman, and brother Byron Patrick Gallagher, and many nieces and nephews and cousins. She also leaves behind her beloved collie Maggie.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 51 years John L. Dietz, her father Byron P. Gallagher and mother Marjorie (Kane) Gallagher. In addition to her family, Maria will be missed by her many friends, neighbors, and people in the community who grew to love her friendly conversation.
Visitation will be held at the Rairigh-Bence Funeral Home of Indiana, Monday, May 28, 2018, from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday morning at 10:00AM at St. Thomas More University Parish on Oakland Avenue in Indiana. Rev. Alan Polczynski, celebrant. Burial will be in the St. Bernard Cemetery, Indiana.
Contributions in Maria’s memory may be made to a charity of your choice.