Sharon Ann Stevick felt good helping people -- whether it was serving as director of the Allegheny County Department of Aging or as deputy executive director of the county's Kane Regional Centers, or making funny fleece hats for family Christmas gifts.
"Sharon had a tremendous desire to be of service to people in need," said Tom O'Shea of Scott, who formerly was director of aging and parks for the county and executive director of the Kane Regional Centers. "Her whole career was with people really in need."
Mr. O'Shea and Ms. Stevick's sister were with Ms. Stevick when she died Tuesday at Kane Regional Center in Ross at the age of 64. The Brookline resident had battled breast cancer for four years.
"Systems come and go, but people like her really keep everything going," Mr. O'Shea said. "That's what she did. She was the consummate professional, but she had the biggest heart, absolutely the biggest heart."
Ms. Stevick grew up in Wilkinsburg and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Wisconsin. Her specialty was counseling for people with special needs.
She returned to Pittsburgh, first working for Easter Seals and then joining the county Department of Aging as a planner, rising to the department's director.
During her time at the Department of Aging, social work and protective services programs were implemented, Mr. O'Shea said. She planned programs, conducted town meetings and reviewed programs to make sure they were serving those most in need.
After that, she became deputy director of the Kane Regional Centers where, he said, she was responsible for the operations end of the four nursing homes.
She retired from Kane in 2004, but, wanting something to do in retirement, worked for the Internal Revenue Service in customer service for two years, Mr. O'Shea said.
Her sister, Sandy Gay of Clinton, N.J., said, "Compassion would be her outstanding characteristic, but she also had the ability to analyze things and try to have them run smoothly at work."
Ms. Gay said Ms. Stevick would take her nieces and nephews to their first rock concert or other events and make Christmas presents for family and friends.
"If you'd call and ask what she was doing, she would say, 'I'm elfing,' " Ms. Gay said.
One year, the theme was different funny hats similar to a joker's hat. Other years, it was a vest, scarf, special key rings, earrings or pins.
She also designed and created beaded jewelry that was sold in local shops.
In addition to her sister, Ms. Stevick is survived by nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces.
Ms. Stevick asked that there be no visitation or service, but a celebration of her life will be scheduled later. The family suggests contributions to the Kane Foundation's Residents Fund, Kane Regional Center, 110 McIntyre Road, Pittsburgh 15237.
Eleanor Chute: email@example.com or 412-263-1955.