Braddock woman was active in her church, NAACP
Bernice “Bun” Pitts, 87, a Braddock woman who was a pillar of her church, died Monday.
Born Bernice Howard in Marion County, S.C., one of five children, she came to Pennsylvania with her family as a child. Her family had relatives in Braddock and her father was told he could get work there. He did, at U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Plant, according to Ms. Pitts’ daughter, Karen Howard of Regent Square.
“We are a very close-knit family and she was the matriarch. We looked to her for wisdom and guidance. My mom was a woman of faith. And she always encouraged us to pray and to trust God,” her daughter said.
She was known by the nickname “Bun,” though Ms. Howard was uncertain of its origins.
“I even called her Bun,” she said.
She was active in her her church, Holliday Memorial AME Zion Church, in Braddock, and held many leadership positions.
“We grew up in a family that believed in church, and that was our way of life,” her daughter said.
“She was like the pillar of Holliday,” said niece Barbara Rawls, of North Braddock, adding that over the years Ms. Pitts was church treasurer, served on various church boards, taught Sunday school, and had been Sunday school superintendent. She also volunteered with the Salvation Army, was involved with the NAACP and was active in her seniorhousing community.
“My aunt was the type of woman who cared about people,” Ms. Rawls said.
Ms. Pitts graduated from Braddock Senior High School and went to work at the former Columbia Hospital in Wilkinsburg, where she was assistant director of the physicians’ dining room, according to her daughter. She retired in 1991.
Her daughter said Ms. Pitts was a sharp dresser who enjoyed shopping and “enjoyed makingthings look nice.”
“She was my champion, she always encouraged me,” Ms. Howard said.
She married Thomas J. Pitts; they later divorced.
“She was a quiet force, very gentle, always a smile on her face. She always saw the best in people, she encouraged people to be their best,” her daughter said.
“She will be missed by the church definitely; she will definitely be missed by the community,” Ms. Rawls said.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by one grandchild, two great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation is from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday at Holliday Memorial AME Zion Church, 600 Talbot Ave., where the funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday. Interment will be private. Arrangements are being handled by Watts Memorial Chapel, 808 Talbot Ave., Braddock.