By Adam Smeltz and Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A top city official has died after an apparent heart attack, Mayor Bill Peduto told other city leaders Friday night.
Deborah Walker, Pittsburgh's deputy chief of human resources in the Department of Personnel and Civil Service Commission, collapsed around 7 p.m. while emceeing an event, Mr. Peduto told a candidates gathering in the South Hills. He made that announcement about 8 p.m., reporting that Ms. Walker was, at that point, "fighting for her life" at UPMC Mercy, Uptown.
By 9:50 p.m., Mr. Peduto announced her death in an email to City Council and other city officials. In the message, the mayor said Ms. Walker collapsed "while doing what she loved -- engaging with the community.
"Deborah joined our team to lead OMI," Mr. Peduto wrote, referring to the city Office of Municipal Investigations. "She was compassionate, honest and hardworking. The city of Pittsburgh is a better place because of her work.
"She was a strong, devout woman," Mr. Peduto went on, "and I am sure she has found peace with God. Please keep her in your prayers."
Ms. Walker had been the OMI manager from 2014 until a promotion this year. She joined OMI at age 59, arriving with experience in law enforcement and as a higher education administrator, according to Mr. Peduto's office.
"She wore her love of community and her commitment to the community on her sleeve," said Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board. She said Ms. Walker had been a friend for 27 years.
A spiritual person, Ms. Walker felt an obligation to help people "be the best they could be," Ms. Pittinger said. She called her friend's death "a huge loss for the community, and it's a huge loss for the city."
"It's a loss for all of us," Ms Pittinger said.
Adam Smeltz: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2625 or on Twitter @asmeltz. Chris Potter: email@example.com or 412-263-2533.
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