Ragna EdithBirch

October 15, 1915 - June 28, 2016

100, of Wexford succumbed to the effects of a stroke on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, surrounded by her family.

Edith, born in Chicago, IL was the eldest of four daughters of Max and Ane Marie Mielow who eventually made their home in Longmeadow, MA; where Edith spent most of her childhood. After graduating high school and while working during the day, Edith continued her education at the Bay Path Institute taking night classes for secretarial courses. One day she came upon a brochure from the Gregg College in Chicago, where court reporting was taught. She enrolled by mail, and left home when she was 18 for Chicago, Gregg College, a career in court reporting and an incredible life that would span 10 decades and would touch the hearts of so many.
Following college, Edith began her career working as a Court Reporter for the Court of Common Pleas, Charleston, WV; thereafter she worked as an independent reporter, being recognized in all the courts; Common Pleas, Circuit, Criminal, and Federal Courts. She also reported the proceedings of the WV Senate Legislature for two terms.

She continued with her career and eventually met and married Homer Birch. They shared common interests in the Kanawha Trail Club and music and dancing clubs. They were living in Charleston, WV when they were blessed with their first child, Norman. The Birches eventually came to settle in Western PA where Edith continued to be active in Garden Clubs, local activities, community service and social issues. In the 60’s, when television was fast becoming the national past time, she wrote about other sources of entertainment, her suggestions at the time included “read a book, listen to music, take a walk, pursue a hobby, have a conversation”. She also wrote “Tree Sacrifice Called Bad Sign of Times”, where she was quoted as saying “…it appears as a symbol of what is gradually happening throughout our country and perhaps all over the world”. Issues still relevant today.

They received their second blessing, daughter, Emily Kristine after settling in Marshall. Edith served on the Arts Advisory Committee for Marshall Township as well as the Marshall Twp. PTA. She was a member of the North Area Toastmistress Club for many years, which was a local organization for women who would like to “learn to think on their feet, and members learned to conduct meeting and make impromptu speeches”.
Edith had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. She enrolled in Continuing Education classes at Community College of Allegheny County. Edith was not afraid to speak her mind or write an editorial in matters that were close to her heart; such as women’s rights. Edith prided herself on having voted in every Presidential election she was eligible for, and was looking forward to voting in the November election.

She and her husband broadened their horizons and extended their knowledge by attending numerous Elderhostel trips over the years; sharing the cultures and arts while making friends around the globe. Edith and Homer were long time members of The Pittsburgh Conference (Pittcon) which added to their travels and adventures.

Coming from humble beginnings and growing up during the Depression, Edith valued education and spent time continuing her education throughout her adult life. Edith’s love and deep appreciation of art and nature intertwined throughout her life, which helped express her creative side. She was always a fan of the great outdoors and everything it had to offer. She became a self-taught expert in the field of wild flowers, birds, and trees. She was instinctively an artist, and did not limit herself to one genre; she tried her hand(s) at everything. A number of her pieces won awards at the North Hills Arts Center and the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Edith was an accomplished silversmith and coppersmith as well.
Edith was a wonderful cook and baker, with testimonials from family that she made “the best cheesecake ever”. Edith enjoyed reading and doing crossword puzzles but loved playing cards and was known in bridge circles as “the woman who knows everything about bridge” and as a “card shark”, said with laugh.

Edith was quoted “I hope that those who appreciate this beautiful and wonderful earth are able to exert influence sufficiently and in time to keep it, the Earth, from being completely destroyed”. 1963

Edith was the devoted wife to the late Dr. Homer J. Birch ; Dedicated mother of Son, Norman J. Birch (Aileen), Wexford, PA ; Daughter, Emily Kristine Jones (Barbara), North Hills, PA; Loving Grandmother of Jessica Martin (Nate Johnson), Pittsburgh, PA, Ashley Philippeit, Dallas, TX, and Special Great Grandmother to Landon Martin, Pittsburgh, PA, Loving sister of Margrete Paulsen, Saco, ME, Adoring aunt to Sonja (Matt) Gerken, Saco, ME, Kris Paulsen, Saco, ME, Harold Paulsen, Concord ,N.H, Maggie (Peter) Muller, Swarthmore, PA, Karen (Chris) Christensen, Simsbury, CT , John D. Fisher, Charlton City, MA.; Along with many other loving relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by husband of 66 years, Dr. Homer Birch in 2010, sisters Erna Priskorn, and Ingeborg Fisher, niece Ellen M. Fisher, nephew Robert A. Fisher.

We invite you to join the family for a Memorial gathering on Friday July 8, 2016, from 4-8 PM at DEVLIN FUNERA L HOME, INC., 806 Perry Hwy, Ross Twp.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Edith’s name to: North Hills Arts Center, 3432 Babcock Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15237

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