Gloria McDermott Hickton was fond of both meeting new people and thrusting herself at new challenges.
Those qualities served the Brooklyn, N.Y., native well in the varied phases of her life, first as a fashion design student and stage actor in New York City, a stint decades later on Pittsburgh radio as a personality giving listeners personal advice and in what may have been the job she was best known for across the South Hills: 35 years as a realtor.
Ms. Hickton -- who lived for years in Castle Shannon, Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon -- died Saturday in St. Clair Hospital of flu complicated by pneumonia. She was 87 and was living in Mt. Lebanon at the time of her death.
"She had a huge network of friends, including many who were lifelong, and yet she was always able to develop new friendships," recalled David Hickton, her oldest child who is U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. "She understood and took very seriously the responsibility to nurture friendships and look after your friends."
Ms. Hickton was passionate about the arts and an advocate for women's equality, having seen firsthand disparities, including her years as a fashion designer, her family said.
She studied fashion design at the Wood Tobe-Coburn School in Manhattan.
She participated in theater, acting for 15 years on stage in New York City and Ohio starting in 1943 and performing summer stock in Lake George, N.Y.
She moved to Columbus, Ohio, briefly in 1955 and a year later to Western Pennsylvania, settling first in Castle Shannon.
The acting stage is where she met her husband, Jack Hickton, who also performed in theater and later served as Allegheny County district attorney. They had five children.
While in Castle Shannon, Ms. Hickton worked on a board involved in building the Castle Shannon Library, her family said.
She also involved herself in politics, serving as a delegate to the 1996 Democratic National Convention, her family said.
She had four children between 1955 and 1960 and curtailed her own work activities for a time to focus more time on her family.
In addition to David of Pittsburgh, Ms. Hickton is survived by children Maren Hickton Ball of Bethel Park, Loran Hickton of Pittsburgh, Anthony Hickton of Bethel Park and Jake Hickton of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Visitation will be at Freyvogel-Slater Funeral Home, 112 Fort Couch Road, Bethel Park, Friday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 10:15 a.m. transfer prayers. Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. in St. Anne Catholic Church, 400 Hoodridge Drive, Castle Shannon.
The family suggests donations to: Gloria McDermott Hickton Fund for Artistic Excellence at the The Pittsburgh Public Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh 15222; or the Mt. Lebanon Village Intergenerational Program, 700 Washington Road, Pittsburgh 15228.
Bill Schackner: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1977.