Ruth Podbielski, 90, passed away peacefully on April 3, 2017, at Indian Haven, Indiana, Pa.
The daughter of the late Maryanna Zydka Podbielski and Stanley Podbielski, she was born September 20,1926, in Beaver Falls, Pa.
Ruth (Pod) graduated from Beaver Falls High School (1944) and Slippery Rock University (1949). She continued her education earning a Masters of Education degree from the University of Pittsburgh and pursued additional graduate studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
Pod worked in the field of health and physical education for almost 40 years, 32 of them at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). She began her career at Butler High School and came to IUP in 1955 serving in many capacities. Her dedication throughout her career is exemplified in her early years at IUP. At that time, there was intramural basketball and volleyball for women but no opportunities to compete with teams outside of the university. With friends who taught at colleges in Western Pennsylvania, she organized “play days” for women. She transported players in her car, packed sandwiches for them and washed their “pinnies.” Pod saw a need to provide much more for women who were interested in athletics. That she did, as she was instrumental in the university adding 10 varsity sports promoting opportunities for women to compete.
Pod was well known in Western Pennsylvania for blazing a trail for women athletes in her efforts to break down barriers for girls and women in athletic competition. Many groups acknowledged her dedication. Pod was awarded the IUP President’s Medal of Distinction in 2013. She received the Heritage Award from the Division of Girls’ and Women’s Sports of the Pennsylvania Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 1995, recognizing her as a person “who did not follow where the path led but instead went where there was no path and left a trail.” Pod was honored by induction into four Sports/Athletic Halls of Fame: Indiana University of PA, 1996; Indiana County, PA, 1995; Slippery Rock, PA, 1999, and Beaver County, PA, 2001. In recognition of her contributions, IUP dedicated the new softball field in her honor in 2000.
Pod actively served various organizations in leadership roles. She was president of the Women’s Golf Association of Western Pennsylvania (WGAWP) 1994-95. Pod was the first woman to serve on the Board of Governors of Indiana Country Club and the first chair of the IUP Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996. She served as chairwoman and secretary of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Basketball Women’s Division; chairwoman of the Recreation Committee of the Greater Indiana Strategic Planning Committee; and volunteer member of the White Township Recreation Advisory Board.
Pod is survived by nieces and nephews: Carolyn Gries, Mary Alice and Jeff Koah, Richard and Mitzi Brashears, Christine and Jeff Marsico, Kay Podbielski, Henry and Barbara Podbielski, Tom and Sue Podbielski, Barbara and Douglas Dunlap, Cliff and Lisa Podbielski, Ann and John Trigueiro, and Tim Podbielski. Surviving Pod are 50 grandnieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her siblings: SteIla Koricansky, Henry Podbielski, Josephine Brashears, Alice Ristau, Wanda DiCicco, David Podbielski, John Podbielski and nephews, David Podbielski and William Ristau.
Pod leaves many friends who loved and respected her. No matter where she traveled, there was always a “Hi, Pod!”
GABAUER-LUTTON FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION SERVICES, INC., 117 Blackhawk Road, Chippewa Twp., is in charge of arrangements. There will be no visitation and burial is private. To send an online condolence to the family, please visit gabauerfamilyfuneralhomes.com.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Foundation for IUP, Ruth Podbielski Women’s Athletic Scholarship Fund, Indiana University of PA, Indiana, PA 15705.
A celebration of her life will be held when family from across the country can gather as they did for her 90th birthday.
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I had the opportunity to work and travel with her to many meeting's of PSAC and NCAA.
Best of all I had the pleasure to "roast her" at her retirement dinner at I U P.
Wishing you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead, and loving memories to forever hold in you hearts.
With deepest sympathies.
P.S. I, along with my boys, treasure all of the wonderful things which Miss Ruth did for us. We are delighted to have had her in our lives.
My sympathy to the family..