Dorothy Jean Brenner traveled the world, taking trips for work and pleasure to the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy and the Bahamas.
Yet her sister JoAnne Randolph of Clairton said Ms. Brenner's heart still belonged to the United States. When Ms. Randolph walked into her sister's home for the first time after the bike accident that killed Ms. Brenner last week, she found all the red, white and blue decorations that "Dee Dee" had put up for the Fourth of July.
"She couldn't see enough. ... She couldn't sit still. I think that was because of her wandering nature all her life," Ms. Randolph said.
"But her favorite place was the U.S. of A."
Ms. Brenner, 66, grew up in Clairton with six siblings and worked for the State Department for most of her career. She lived in Austria, Barbados, London, New York City and Virginia before she moved back to Whitehall five years ago upon retirement.
Ms. Brenner was living in New York in 2001 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks struck the World Trade Center, and her nephew Matthew Scruggs said his aunt had an office in the first building hit that morning. She was late to work that day, he said, and watched the plane hit just above where she could have been sitting at her desk.
After the attacks, Mr. Scruggs said his aunt slept with her bedroom window open so she could see the Statue of Liberty at night from her Battery Park apartment.
"She said, 'As long as Lady Liberty was there, the country would be all right,' " Mr. Scruggs said. "She loved her country."
Ms. Brenner also loved Pittsburgh -- especially the Steelers. Mr. Scruggs said she had been a season ticket holder since 1974 and attended every game she could, even in rain or snow.
When Ms. Brenner died, she was traveling again, this time with the family of Alexis Hrbek, at Bethany Beach, Del. Ms. Hrbek is the daughter of Maggie Pholar, one of Ms. Brenner's closest friends from childhood.
Ms. Pholar described her friend as a sister she never had, a godmother to her grandchildren and a constant presence at family celebrations. Ms. Hrbek remembered the morning of the accident, when Ms. Brenner rented a bike that looked like a New York taxi cab, bright and ready for travel. Just like her friend.
"It had the black and yellow checkers on it. ... [Dee Dee] said, 'It's fitting for me,' " Ms. Hrbek said.
In addition to her sister Ms. Randolph, Ms. Brenner is survived by her five other siblings: Mary K. Judd of Addison, Margie Porecco of Santa Maria, Calif., Frances Scruggs of Clairton, John A. Brenner Jr. of Addison and Thomas E. Brenner of Chester, W.Va.
As a tribute to Ms. Brenner's love for travel, her friends and family will scatter her ashes around the world. Nieces and nephews planning a trip to Spain, a country Ms. Brenner had always wanted to visit, will take some of her ashes with them. Ms. Pholar and Ms. Hrbek will take their friend to the beach she visited every summer with their family.
A memorial gathering will be held in the A.J. Bekavac Funeral Home, 555 5th St., Clairton, on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friends and family can also remember Ms. Brenner at a memorial Mass on Saturday in Holy Angels Parish in Hays at 10 a.m. The family asks that guests arrive at the church no later than 9:45 a.m., as there will be no procession from the funeral home. Contributions can be made to the Phipps Conservatory, One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
Megan Doyle; firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1953.