Jan. 31, 2018
Mrs. Agnes "Jo" Marie (Reiter) Dzombak, 86, longtime resident of Latrobe and resident of Asbury Villas in Mt. Lebanon since 2016, passed away in the loving embrace of her five children on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.
She was a good friend of many in the Saint Vincent College community as the wife of the late Dr. William Dzombak, longtime professor of chemistry at Saint Vincent, and the mother of Dr. David Dzombak, C’79, a member of the Saint Vincent Board of Directors, and Ivan Dzombak, C’83.
Agnes was born Feb. 17, 1931, in Chicago, daughter of the late Agnes and Joseph Reiter. Agnes grew up on the South Side of Chicago and had a Catholic education, beginning with St. Augustine School, followed by high school at Academy of Our Lady, and then Mundelein College (on full scholarship), from which she graduated in 1952 with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Upon graduation, Agnes taught in the Chicago public school system and began graduate studies part time at the University of Chicago. During her time there, she attended a series of lectures by the famous Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain. Following the first of these lectures, while waiting in line to meet the noted philosopher, a fellow in line, Dr. William "Bill" Dzombak, introduced himself. They attended the remaining lectures together. In 1953, Bill accepted a faculty position in chemistry at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. Shortly after arriving in Latrobe, Bill proposed marriage by telegram, and Agnes accepted. She left her teaching position, put graduate studies on hold, and boarded a train to a small Pennsylvania town she had never seen and where she knew no one except Bill. Agnes and Bill were married in the Saint Vincent Basilica Crypt Chapel in November 1953. Agnes and Bill started a family, with five children born between 1955 and 1962. Starting in the late 1960s, Agnes fit master's courses into her busy life, and then in 1971 started substitute teaching in the Derry Area and Greater Latrobe school districts. In 1976, she began a full-time appointment teaching middle-school language arts for Greater Latrobe and completed 20 wonderfully rewarding years of service to several generations of students when she retired in 1996. She loved teaching middle-school-age students; she believed that she had a special opportunity to help children at a critical stage to advance their reading skills, views of the world and possibilities for themselves. Agnes was a woman of many interests, including literature, art, music, history, nature and religion. Among many activities in her retirement years was daily pursuit of her lifelong interest and passion in writing poetry. Agnes also had a lifelong scholarly interest in the ideas, philosophy and achievements of Abraham Lincoln. She was a longtime member of The Lincoln Forum, participated enthusiastically in the annual meeting of the forum in Gettysburg each November, and valued her friendships made through the forum with people from across the country. She was involved with many professional and community groups, including the Latrobe Art Center, the Loyalhanna Watershed Association (former board member), Pittsburgh Poetry Society (former president) and the University of Pittsburgh Western Pennsylvania Writing Project (fellow). She was active at both Holy Family Parish and Saint Vincent Basilica Parish during her years in Latrobe, and also involved with Saint Vincent College and Archabbey in various ways. She valued very much the friendships forged through these activities. Of special importance were her friendships with fellow teachers from the Greater Latrobe School District. The energetic and scholarly way in which she conducted her life was an example for her children, grandchildren and students. Agnes was preceded in death by her husband, Bill, and her sister, Marie (Reiter) Werner. She is survived by daughter, Deborah McMahon and her husband, Stephen, of Pittsburgh; son, Dr. David Dzombak and his wife, Carolyn Menard, of Pittsburgh; daughter, Laura Warren and her husband, Douglas, of Richmond, Vermont.; son, Ivan Dzombak and his wife, Paula Penrod-Dzombak, of Pinckney, Michigan; daughter, Stefanie Puccetti and her husband, John, of Pittsburgh; and nieces, Marianne Werner King and Virginia (Werner) Devona. She was the proud and loving grandmother of 15 grandchildren: Elizabeth, Jenna, Patricia and Joseph McMahon; Daniel, William and Rachel Dzombak; Kathleen and Gregory Warren; Christopher, Rebecca and Jesse Dzombak; and Justin, Adam and Jacob Puccetti.
Family and friends will be received from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, at JOHN J. LOPATICH FUNERAL HOME INC., 601 Weldon St., Latrobe. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, in the Saint Vincent Basilica Crypt Chapel. Everyone is asked to please go directly to the Crypt Chapel. A lunch reception will be held at the Saint Vincent Fred Rogers Center immediately following the memorial Mass.
In accordance with her wishes, Agnes' body has been donated for medical research through Humanity Gifts Registry and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Brother's Brother Foundation (1200 Galveston Ave., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233) or Saint Vincent Basilica Parish (300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, Pennsylvania 15650). The family thanks the many friends of Agnes for their concern and prayers and the staff at Asbury Villas and UPMC Family Hospice for their care and kindness during Agnes' final days.
Photo: Mrs. Agnes Dzombak