Elizabeth Foster Schoyer, one of the original docents at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh and a founder of the Freedom House Ambulance Service, died Monday. She was 94.
Ms. Schoyer was born in 1919 on her grandfather's farm in Squirrel Hill and died on that same property 94 years later, a testament, her family says, to her love of Pittsburgh and the importance of family in her life. Her great-grandfather, John Kennedy, was a Common Pleas judge and her other grandfather, William Foster, fought in the Civil War. Her grandmother used to ride on horseback to the family farm in Paw Paw, W.Va., a place fondly remembered by each generations of Schoyers.
She attended the Ellis School and graduated from high school in New York before attending the University of Pittsburgh and earning a degree in art history in 1942. In 1943, Ms. Schoyer married Edward Holyoke Schoyer, a law partner at Buchanan, Ingersoll. Mr. Schoyer worked at Buchanan, Ingersoll for more than 50 years and served as the firm's managing partner from 1975 to 1978.
During World War II, Ms. Schoyer was in Europe for a program called the Experiment in International Living. Though she was living with a host family in England, she was traveling around the European continent when the war began and had to leave for the United States quickly on a boat. Instead of being frightened, her daughter, Judith Rodd, said, she found the experience exciting.
Ms. Schoyer was the president of the Junior League of Pittsburgh from 1947-49 and became a member of the United Nations Committee in Pittsburgh. She worked as the librarian at St. Edmund's Academy from 1957 to 1972.
In 1959 she revisited her passion for art when she joined the Women's Committee at the Carnegie Museum of Art. In 1972, she became a member of the Museum's first class of docents. She was a docent for 33 years and was a member of the Women's Committee for 54 years.
As a docent, Ms. Schoyer had to be knowledgeable about a whole range of art, said her daughter, Elizabeth Schoyer, who is also an artist. Ms. Schoyer loved a variety of art down to the Monet picture that appeared on her 80th birthday cake, her daughter said. She also loved taking groups of school children around the museum. Reading and gardening were also favorite pastimes. Ms. Schoyer started a book club that lasted 50 years and was a member of the Hillcrest Garden Club.
Though she cared deeply about the sensitive subjects of art and literature, Ms. Schoyer also meant business. Claire Schoyer, Ms. Schoyer's granddaughter, remembers visiting the family farm in West Virginia when she was 5, when Claire and her cousin were charged by a bull. "Grandma seemed more of a Pittsburgh socialite," Claire said, but after her grandmother smacked the bull over the head with a shovel, she realized that she was a "pretty tough lady."
In that same vein, Ms. Schoyer felt the need to take action for racial equality following the Martin Luther King riots in Pittsburgh in 1967, In response to the riots, Ms. Schoyer helped found the Freedom House Ambulance Service, an integrated ambulance service that served the Hill District.
Ms. Schoyer was dignified and proper even into the last days of her life. At the annual PNC Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon in 2012, she wore a hat with feather and lace. "She looked like the queen's mother," Ms. Rodd said.
In addition to her two daughters, Ms. Schoyer is survived by a son, David Kennedy Schoyer; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Friends will be received June 21 at the family home from 6 to 9 p.m. A service will be held at First Unitarian Church, corner of Ellsworth and Morewood, on June 22 at noon. Interment will be private. Arrangements are by McCabe Brothers Funeral Home.
The family suggests donations to Carnegie Museum of Art, Children's Education Programs, c/o Development, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh 15213.
Monica Disare: email@example.com.