Money was tight while Mary Pitcher was raising her four boys in Dormont, so, she said, she had to find ways to entertain them without breaking the bank.
"A lot of times, we'd put their skateboards in the back of the van and we'd just go," she said.
Now Mrs. Pitcher is trying to save parents in the Dormont area such trips. She's been the driving force behind plans to build a multi-use park for skateboarding, skating and biking in honor of her two late sons.
Dormont council in early April approved the site for the proposed park by a 4-3 vote. The park is slated to be built where the tennis courts presently are located along Banksville Road.
OCCUPATION: Mother; antiques dealer
NOTABLE OTHER ROLES: Helped start the a branch of the national Graves Disease Foundation at St. Clair Hospital
EDUCATION: College and real estate courses
FAMILY: Sons Jonathan, 28, and Brady, 26
BOOKS ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND: "Heaven," by Randy Alcorn
WHAT'S PLAYING ON YOUR TV: "Law and Order"
PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW: "I enjoy the outdoors."
GUILTY PLEASURE: Desserts and chocolate
FAVORITE ENTERTAINMENT: "Going to auctions."
DREAM JOB: "Being a mom."
Some, however, oppose the park, and they have not gone away quietly. They were back at council's meeting this month, expressing their concerns and asking for a re-vote.
But Mrs. Pitcher said she's steadfast in her resolve to get the project completed.
"I'm going to see this through no matter what," she said. "This was done out of love for the community and for my sons who loved the community."
Mrs. Pitcher's sons, Vincent, 21, and Stephen, 19, drowned in an accident in the Kinzua Reservoir in 2008 while on a camping trip with their father and friends. The family lived in Dormont at the time, and the brothers were graduates of Keystone Oaks High School.
Mrs. Pitcher said she started the project to help herself and others heal from the tragedy.
"There are thousands of people who want this and are behind this project," she said. "It's only a few certain people who are against it."
But, she said, those people are making it difficult to proceed. She said it's especially hard when the attacks get personal.
"You start to wonder when it's time to walk away, but the reason I love Dormont and that my sons loved Dormont was because of the people and their huge hearts, and I'm still finding that to be true. People have my back through this."
Mrs. Pitcher said her main objective now is to raise the money to get the park off the drawing board and into Dormont.
The park is estimated to cost $500,000 to $800,000. It would be funded by donations and grants -- not taxpayer dollars.
"They are trying to distract us from raising the money," she said. "We have to set aside emotion, which is very difficult for me."
She said her main objective is to provide a safe place for youngsters in the South Hills to play so they'll be off the streets and out of the parking lots.
People have a misconception of skaters, she said, because of the way they look and dress.
"But there are bankers with tattoos and piercings. I know attorneys who have longer hair than mine," she said.
She said she hoped the project and her story will remind parents to find time each day to spend with their kids, no matter what.
"That way, if something should happen, you'll have no regrets," she said. "I have no regrets at all. I'm trying to deal with this every single day. I go to sleep praying every night."
Councilwoman Laurie Malka said she didn't know Mrs. Pitcher before the skate park issue.
"I contacted Mary to see if we could move this issue from gossip because we were getting comments and concern from residents," she said.
"After one phone conversation, I felt like I had known her for years; she is this genuine woman who has been through an incredible loss, and instead of hating the world, she is putting her time and efforts into giving to others."
"What you have is a wonderful woman who cares about kids, whether they're in Dormont or California," Ms. Malka said.
Ken McCarthy, freelance writer: email@example.com .