Obituary: Dorothy Marie Hentosz / Made afghans for people who needed them

Oct. 10, 1922 -- Aug. 2, 2013

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Dorothy Marie Hentosz, a crocheter whose generosity could be measured in the hundreds of afghans she made for family, friends and those in need, died Friday due to congestive heart failure. She was 90.

A native Pittsburgher, Mrs. Hentosz always put family first, her three daughters said. For much of her adult life, she worked night shifts as an office cleaner before returning home to take care of her children during the day. Mrs. Hentosz found an outlet for her boundless energy in crocheting, an activity that kept her especially busy after she retired, always looking for ways in which the afghans she made could help people.

"It was her ministry -- her calling," said her daughter, Michele Blosel of Peters.

Mrs. Hentosz's husband of 26 years, Anthony Hentosz, died of a stroke in 1975, and she moved from Beechview to Peters to live with Ms. Blosel's family 12 years later. Ms. Blosel said her mother had been making afghans for as long as she can remember, offering them to nuns in the retirement home, as fundraisers for Meals On Wheels and raffles for the local cross-country team.

She would take advantage of any opportunity to celebrate an acquaintance's wedding or new baby as well as to support friends in times of sickness and grief, always with an afghan in hand.

"When someone would do something nice, my daughter would say, 'They're getting an afghan, aren't they?' " Ms. Blosel said.

Mrs. Hentosz was able to produce about an afghan a week. For a while, she offered many of them to Center Presbyterian Church in Peters. When the parish became overwhelmed with all the afghans, she shifted her focus to St. Thomas More.

Mrs. Hentosz had a stack of cards from people she had never met before thanking her for the afghans, Ms. Blosel said.

"She was magnanimous in her generosity," said her granddaughter, Jeannette Boner.

Mrs. Hentosz came from a relatively poor background, growing up in Pittsburgh's North Side during the Great Depression. Her father, a mill worker, died when she was 6, and she spent some of her childhood in foster homes.

This background contributed to her desire to make every day as special as she could for her own family, embracing, for example, the full splendor of holidays such as Christmas, said her daughter, Denise Shipe of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

When all her children were old enough to enter school in the mid-1950s, Mrs. Hentosz started cleaning offices during the night at the Oliver Tyrone Corp. and later IBM. She would often catch only three hours of sleep a day, between the time her children left for school and when they returned home for lunch, Ms. Blosel said.

After Mrs. Hentosz retired in 2001, she became restless sitting around at home and decided to volunteer in the kitchen for Peters Meals On Wheels, said Susan Ruether, the program's director.

"She just couldn't stand for her hands to be idle," Ms. Ruether said. "She was one of those people who just had to be doing something."

As Mrs. Hentosz grew older, her hands continued to work. Ms. Blosel said her mother never had arthritis.

"She would say so many times, 'I thank God that I can do this,' " Ms. Blosel said.

In addition to Ms. Blosel and Ms. Shipe, Mrs. Hentosz is survived by daughter Carol Horney of Bethel Park; a brother, Lawrence "Bud" Simon of West Mifflin; a sister, Loretta Coronado of Beechview; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

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Gavan Gideon: or 412-263-4910.


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