Elena “Helen” Maria Pettigrew, 103, of Greensburg, passed away Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020, at the home of her daughter, Jill Bevilacqua and Gary Lynn. She was born April 11, 1917 in Darragh, a daughter of the late Joseph and Mary Baio Cambruzzi. She was preceded in death by her husband, John E. Pettigrew; two brothers Tony and Andy Cambruzzi, and two sisters, Marie Pidutti and Emma Jane Franklin. Helen is survived by her three children: Lt. Col. (ret) John E. Pettigrew Jr. of Melbourne Beach, FL, Jill Bevilacqua of Ligonier and Jason Pettigrew of Cleveland, OH; six grandchildren: Christopher Pettigrew, Justin Bevilacqua, Leah Bevilacqua, Tina Pettigrew, Zachary Pettigrew and Debbie Pettigrew; and three great-grandchildren, Talon Bevilacqua, Ethan and Cullen Pettigrew.
Before getting married in 1942, Helen would travel to Pittsburgh from the Greensburg train station with her sister Marie to work at a law firm. Not long afterward, she trained on business machines and began working for the Porcelier Company in South Greensburg before landing at Bartley’s Plumbing in East Liberty. As a mother, she was quite hands-on in her children’s lives, acting in a number of roles from homeroom mother giving students shiny new pennies, Cub Scout den mother, and child advocate, visiting the Hempfield Area Schools bus garage to insure that all the children on the bus route were being safely transported. She loved to travel and had enjoyed her trips to Venezuela, St. Thomas and Europe, especially to Fonzaso, Italy, where she visited relatives of her parents.
Helen was never employed in the service industry, but she dedicated her life to help make someone else’s easier. If an errand had to be done or a meal needed to be prepared and delivered for whatever reason, she took to it immediately. Even in her late 80s, she refused to slow down and “act her age,” doing things that would demonstrate her continued love for friends and family alike. Be it a great niece/nephew or a distant in-law, there was never a birth date she ever forgot. Whether it was preparing and delivering meals for shut-ins or picking up her friends for card parties-sometimes physically assisting them into her car when necessary-there was nothing she wouldn’t do for someone in need. And if Helen couldn’t do it, she strived to ultimately find someone who would. She would accomplish things and inspire people to pay that mindfulness forward.
That kindness was often extended to her children’s friends, where she often played the role of de facto parent, confidante and shoulder to cry on. The side entrance to her home was always open, and she would chide this extended circle of acquaintances for knocking on her door instead of just walking right in. Those people found Helen to be a disarming, caring presence who was non-judgmental and quick with everything from a meal to the occasional ribald joke to a genuine interest in that person’s life. When dictionaries refer to the term “people person,” Helen’s photo would be perfect posted next to the entry.
Her passing brings her family and friends great sadness. However, they will find solace in the joyous memories of time spent with Helen in a life that was long, fruitful and constantly giving.
There will be no public visitation. A funeral mass will be celebrated on Saturday, November 7 at 11am in Holy Trinity Parish 342 W. Main Street, Ligonier. All guests are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing. Interment will follow in Union Cemetery of Greensburg.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Ligonier Valley Meals On Wheels.
KEPPLE-GRAFT Funeral Home entrusted with the arrangements. For online condolences and information, please visit www.kepplegraft.com.