Rita M. McGinley had many passions in life, and one of the biggest was her love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ms. McGinley, 94, died on Friday.
A long-time Steelers’ shareholder, Rita McGinley lived a life filled with Steelers football after her father, Barney McGinley, became a part owner of the team in the 1946 along with Art Rooney Sr. Barney McGinley went into the football business with Art Rooney Sr. because Bert Bell had to sell his shares in the franchise once he became the NFL Commissioner.
Rita McGinley grew up in Braddock, Pa., and became a biology major at Carlow University in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section, and she went on to teach science in both the General Braddock and then the Woodland Hills School Districts. In February 2012, Ms. McGinley donated $5 million to Carlow University, the largest gift in school history, to create and endow the Rita M. McGinley Center for Student Success.
But throughout her life, Ms. McGinley’s love of the Steelers never wavered. She attended games at Three Rivers Stadium and then Heinz Field for as long as she was able, and she also was a regular visitor to the team’s training camp at Saint Vincent College every year, including this past summer.
“Rita had a great spirit and was always interested and a great supporter of everything we tried to do in terms of the management of the Steelers,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “She always attended shareholder meetings.
“She came to games for as long as she could. The last few years she wasn’t able to get to as many games. She came to training camp in the summer and worried about being on the field. As long as she was able, she tried to be here and be a part of things, and it was always fun to have her be a part of whatever events we were having.”
Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney said, “She was a very dedicated teacher. That was what she did growing up, but she also loved the Steelers. She would come to training camp, and then sit in the press box during games, and we would go in and talk with her. She would come to dinner at training camp and say hello to everybody.
“She was also very charitable and gave to a lot of different organizations in the Pittsburgh area. She has always tried to help people. She was that kind of person. She was a good person.”
Ms. McGinley’s giving culminated last February with the Rita M. McGinley Center for Student Success, which is part of the Carlow University Learning Commons.
“I came to Carlow and never regretted it for a second,” said Ms. McGinley last February. “I had many wonderful teachers and made many dear friends. I gave this gift so that Carlow can use it to help people have the same experience I did.”
Ms. McGinley also helped establish the Rita M. McGinley Chair in Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College, which is to help advance and continue the legacy of Pittsburgh icon Fred Rogers, the familiar figure on the children’s show “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,” at the school’s Rogers Center.
“She was an all-around great lady who was extremely generous with her time and financial wherewithal,” said Rooney II. “Many organizations benefited from her generosity down through the years. She was a wonderful person and someone we will miss very much."