Ann (Gontz) SkittleDecember 18, 2017
Ann Gontz Skittle of Canonsburg passed away peacefully on Monday, December 18, 2017, in Canonsburg.
She was born on January 17 in Canonsburg to Nicholas and Mary Kundrat Gontz who preceded her in death.
On October 28, 1950, she married Mike Skittle, Jr. who survives.
She was a member of St. John Russian Orthodox Church in Canonsburg, SNPJ Lodge 138 in Strabane, and the Russian Brotherhood Association.
Ann, with her sunny smile and disposition, was known by many from her work at Standard Drug Store in the 1940’s and 50’s as the Assistant Manager. She was a Kiwanis Harvest Queen in 1948.
She met her husband, Mike, at a polka party at the SNPJ Hall in Strabane. Their shared love of polkas and polka dancing brought them continued happiness throughout their 67 years together.
She was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. Her grandchildren affectionately called her “Bubbi”. She lived her life with a happy, positive attitude, studying and passing on healthy living techniques, tending flowers and gardens, and generally serving as a source of strength and advice for her family. She passed her love of reading and photography to her daughter and grandchildren.
She was a funny, kind-hearted, warm person who brought joy to everyone.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her only daughter Debra Skittle Bober of Canonsburg, her sister Mary Popeck (James) of Canonsburg, two grandchildren Timothy and Cynthia Bober and several nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by two brothers Nicholas Gontz, Jr., and Michael Gontz and a sister Eva Meredith.
At the request of the family, services at the funeral home and interment in Oak Spring Cemetery are private. Arrangements have been entrusted to Salandra Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc., Joseph P. Salandra, owner/supervisor, 304 West Pike Street, Canonsburg, 724-745-8120.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Humane Society in Washington.
We are gathered here today to celebrate the beautiful life of my Mom, Ann Gontz Skittle. A life lived with purpose. A life lived with joy.
My mother is described perfectly by her high-school yearbook inscription, “Sunny smile and disposition.” She was a cook, seamstress, photographer, health enthusiast (before it was popular), hair dresser, barber, gardener, dancer, advisor, and soulmate. She loved driving a car. She learned when I was 16. She was a loving, devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. Her home and family brought her happiness and satisfaction. My mom was smart and funny, vibrant and sassy, full of enthusiasm. Why just bake a cake when you can bake a 7-layer cake! Why buy a dress when you can make a fantastic dress in a fabulous material!
Before she was a wife and mother, my Mom was one of 5 children, with my Mom being the oldest. She always said they were like steps, Annie, Eva, Nicky, Mary, and Mikie. My Mom was thrilled to be the Kiwanis queen in 1948. She worked at the Standard Pharmacy in downtown Canonsburg as an Assistant Manager and Assistant to the Pharmacist. From this experience, she was always Doctor Mom to us, knowing just what over-the-counter medication to prescribe for an ailment. Everyone in Canonsburg knew her from that job.
Flowers were a source of vibrant color and happiness. Red impatiens, small and delicate, were her favorite flower, but she also loved big and bold flowers, irises, canna lilies, and tiger lilies. We all loved the circles of flowers and the big garden in the back yard.
My Mom’s life rule was “Look good, feel good.” She always exercised and took good care of herself. She was a natural barber and hairdresser, professionally cutting her family’s hair for many years. She enjoyed makeup, with red lipstick being a signature look.
Healthy eating was all important. We never ate anything that was “hydrogenated.” We are all label readers. Despite the healthy restrictions, she made the best ever miner’s bucket lunch for my Dad. The bucket had 3 tiers: the bottom was water, the middle layer was fruit and a cake slice (freshly-baked), and the top had a fabulous sandwich with tomato, lettuce, and onion. I had the best school lunches, with stew, meat and dumplings, and fried chicken, all homemade. When I opened my Thermos, all of my teachers wanted samples.
My Mom was practical. She found my first job for me, a summer job, working at Colaizzo’s Insurance Agency. She walked in to pay her taxes and asked “Do you need any help?” My daughter is looking for a job. She is a hard worker and will do anything. I got the job. She drove me to work on my first day. As I closed the door, she motioned for me to come back to the car. I said, “Yes Mom, what is it?” She said, “Deb, never stand around doing nothing. No one wants to pay you for doing nothing.”
My Mom was always a source of inspiration. One day, when Tim and Cyndy were 3 and 1, I was reading to them, one on each knee. I called my Mom to say that they could never be any cuter than they were at that age and that I could never be any happier. She said, “Don’t regret the passing of an age. Every age has something really special about it. You’ll see. There are so many wonderful experiences ahead. I’m still enjoying you.”
No set of stories about my Mom would be complete with telling our family’s love story, a fairy tale about how my Mom and Dad got together in the first place. Once upon a time, there was a handsome sailor and a beautiful Russian girl. The sailor was strong and tall, with beautiful curly blond hair. The Russian maiden was exquisite in form and kind in spirit. Although they had known each other before this particular night, they met again at a polka party in Strabane. The sailor saw the maiden coming down a set of stairs in a blue dress and his world changed. “Why hadn’t I noticed her before?” he thought. They spent the evening dancing polkas. At the end of the night, he asked, “Do you have a ride home?” Her infamous answer was, “I guess I do now.” Their song was forever “Blue Skirt Waltz.”
In truth, my parents spent their lives dancing around the kitchen to Slovenian polkas. The better the polka, the louder the volume. Although my Mother was Russian, she always said she was Slovenian at heart.
My Mom declared her times as a grandmother, my children’s Bubbi, as the best of the best. She could not wait for Timmy and Cyndy to arrive in the morning. They played and read books all day, instilling in both my children a love of reading. She read aloud frequently with enthusiasm and meaning. I would arrive home from work to find my Tim flying in his Batman cape in the garden and my Cyndy swirling around the kitchen in silk scarves.
I tell my children that success is being happy with yourself and your life. My mother was a success. She had a life well-lived.