Ruth Podbielski

Ruth Podbielski


DEATH: 04/03/2017



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

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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11 entries.
Marge Trout from Lancaster wrote on April 25, 2017 at 11:59 pm:
My sympathy to her family, but she lived a wonderful life giving her true passion for sport opportunity to women.
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.
The Fedinick family from Indiana, PA (now Indiana state) wrote on April 15, 2017 at 11:31 pm:
Dear family of Miss Ruth and Dr. Gayle,

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.
Laurie Nicholson from Indiana, PA wrote on April 11, 2017 at 12:50 pm:
Pod was an outstanding model for all of us. When she saw the need for more equitable women's athletic opportunities, she worked tirelessly to create and support those . She spoke for fairness and equity in a way that helped people to listen and pay attention... without worry for who got the credit. Scholar athletes at IUP owe her a great debt. I admired and respected this great teacher and advocate. She did not seek glory or credit, she sought a better, fairer day for those who would follow her. The tributes to her attest to that life well lived. My condolences to all those who loved this amazing woman
Bob(59) and Bobbie Saylor(61)Cleminson from Nellysford, VA. wrote on April 9, 2017 at 7:56 pm:
Our condolences to Ruth's family and loved ones. My freshman year happened to coincide with Ruth's first year on the ISTC faculty. It was while visiting IUP that we really got to know her. She would always project a warm welcome. Her passion and devotion to women's athletics will place her among the Icon's of Women's sports.
Peg English Duffy from Westerville OH wrote on April 8, 2017 at 1:28 pm:
Pod was respected and loved even by those of us will less than stellar athletic abilities in the early 50s at BHS. Truly an exemplary teacher.
Patricia Singleton from Moon Township wrote on April 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm:
So sorry for your loss. I played basketball for Miss Podbielski in 1956- 57 at IUP. I am 78 years old now but I still remember her. That was all before women's sports became popular as they are today. Women like her laid the groundwork for that to happen. May God bless her.
Donna Shank from Mansfield wrote on April 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm:
I am a 1976 graduate from IUP, and Miss Pod was one of the best teachers that I had. But not only was she a great teacher - she was an awesome person. I will always remember many things that she taught me. I was blessed to have known her.
Ginny sleigh from Penn run wrote on April 7, 2017 at 12:01 am:
My sincere condolences to Pod's family. Like many others, I've been fortunate to have known her for nearly 30 years. We bowled together many years ago. She was a wonderful friend to many and will be sorely missed.
Cindy (Nastase) Klunk from Indiana wrote on April 6, 2017 at 11:49 pm:
I am a 1974 graduate from the Health & Physical Education Department at IUP. I was most fortunate to have had Miss Pod for many of my activities classes & enjoyed every one of them. She was a most outstanding lady & teacher, & was always one of my favorites!! She did so much in the life God provided for her, & I'm sure, she is being rewarded for it now. I can't even imagine how many jewels she's earned & how large her crown in Heaven must be!! I am so thankful to have known her, & my very deepest sympathy to her family.
Kim Johnson-Walker from Magnolia Delaware wrote on April 6, 2017 at 11:06 pm:
To my first mentor: Thank You
Allan Andrew from Bridgeville wrote on April 6, 2017 at 7:45 pm:
I had the good fortune to have Miss Pod when I was a student at IUP in the 60"s. and also as a colleague on the faculty at IUP for many years. She was a wonderful person and will be missed.
My sympathy to the family..