At the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition's annual run/walk at North Park on Sept. 8, Janey Waldman made an unexpected choice at the fork in the trail. The strong-spirited, upbeat Point Breeze resident with an innate flair for fashion took the path for the 5-mile walk while the 30 or so family members and friends who accompanied the cancer victim veered the other way.
"We had to pull her back and say 'No, we're not doing the 5-mile walk. We're doing the 1-mile,' " recalled her brother John Waldman.
Ms. Waldman, who with her late mother operated three women's clothing boutiques, died Thursday at her Point Breeze home of ovarian cancer. She was 55.
"She had a lot of energy, a lot of fight in her," said Debbie Tanzer Poel of Sugar Land, Texas, who knew Ms. Waldman since preschool.
Karen Silverblatt Nameth of Sewickley said Ms. Waldman's fashion sense was evident the first time she met her longtime friend. A teen-aged Ms. Nameth was dating John Waldman at the time and he drove her to Winchester Thurston School to pick up his sister. All but one of the girls waiting to be picked up wore the private school's trademark plaid skirt, a plain white blouse, and conventional shoes. The lone exception was Ms. Waldman, who accessorized the skirt with a Christian Dior blouse with ruffles at the neck, black patent leather designer shoes, and a Farrah Fawcett hairdo.
"She was a knockout," Ms. Nameth recalled, laughing that Ms. Waldman made her want to step up her game.
Ms. Waldman's other brother, Hal, said it was a foregone conclusion his sister would join their mother, the late Ilene Waldman, at Name-Dropper, a boutique their mother started in 1973 in Shadyside. Ms. Waldman joined the store after receiving a merchandising degree from Syracuse University. Stores were added in Mt. Lebanon in 1984 and Sewickley in 1992. Janey Waldman was in charge at the Sewickley store.
Customers could not enter and just start shopping, Ms. Nameth said. First, Ms. Waldman sat them down and asked about them and their families. Eventually, she selected sophisticated sportswear, cocktail dresses or gowns for them to try on, then provided her honest opinion.
"She could sum you up and tell you what looked good on you," Ms. Poel said.
The stores were closed following Ilene Waldman's death in 2002.
Five years later, her daughter, who was living in Calabasas, Calif., at the time, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ms. Waldman moved back to Point Breeze and became an active volunteer for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition as a speaker, encouraging other women who had the disease. She also researched the disease meticulously and took part in several clinical trials to further progress toward finding a cure.
"She was just a very empathetic person," Hal Waldman said. "She was one of those people who collected friends wherever she went."
In addition to her brothers, Ms. Waldman is survived by her father, Morris, of Pittsburgh and her son, Douglas, of Pittsburgh.
Friends may call today at Ralph Schugar Chapel, 5509 Centre Ave. from 10:30 a.m. until noon, when there will be a service. Ms. Waldman will be buried at the West View Cemetery of Rodef Shalom Congregation.