Fineview activist Mary Jane Barbush remembered for Step-a-Thon, other contributions to the neighborhood

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Left: Mary Jane Barbush was a leader in the Fineview community for more than 30 years. (Photo courtesy Fineview Citizens Council)

Long-time Fineview resident and community leader Mary Jane Barbush passed away on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, at the age of 73.

Barbush, who served for more than 30 years in multiple positions on the Fineview Citizens Council’s board, has been lauded as a committed, active neighborhood figure who took her role in the community seriously.

From writing proposals and treasury reports to producing the neighborhood newsletter, “Her heart was always open to making things happen for Fineview,” said Pat Buck, an FCC board member.

 “She was intense and stern about some things, but she was a pleasant lady who was very nice. She was a caring, committed, educated person who really cared about Fineview and the Northside.”

One of her proudest biggest accomplishment was founding the Fineview Step-a-Thon 15 years ago, Buck said, which has grown into a yearly event where challengers climb the 5 miles of steps throughout Fineview.  

Fineview resident and FCC board member Margaret Eldridge met Mary Jane shortly after she moved to the neighborhood and called her “a fun, generous woman.”

She described how she and Mary Jane once completed a survey of every vacant and occupied home in their neighborhood, walking street by street until the job was done.

“Mary Jane was very precise. She was really a no-nonsense lady,” Eldridge said. “As a neighborhood organizer, you could count on her. Any job she was given, she did it well. She was very effective.”

Mary Jane and husband, Michael, who sat on the North Side / North Shore Chamber of Commerce’s board for many years, attended almost every Chamber function, said Robin Rosemary Miller, Chamber director.  

 “She would always pitch in and help whenever we needed help with something,” Miller said.

Aside from her community work Mary Jane also was an avid gardener, Miller remembers.

“They had this beautiful outdoor garden that she took great pride in. Beautiful flowers, and you’d walk in and she’d tell you what kinds of plants they were,” Miller said. “She kept a beautiful house. She had great taste in art.”

“Mary Jane was a volunteer among the many hundreds of volunteers that helped to revive this city,” Buck said. “Her legacy will be that Fineview is a better place.” 

Mary Jane is survived by her husband, the owner of Burke & Michael, an interior design firm located in Allegheny West.

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