Dorothy Merschrod Onisko, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, friend, pianist, organist, teacher, choir director, conservationist, and all around woman extraordinaire died on January 26, 2013 at the age of 92. Dorothy was born in 1920 in West Virginia to Chester and Emma Merschrod. She moved to Erie, Pennsylvania where she and her adored husband Tony raised their three children: Michelle, Kitty, and Bruce. Her beloved father Chester lived with the family until the youngest child moved out for college. To escape Erie winters, she and Tony moved to Smithfield, North Carolina in 1982. Dorothy was an exceptional musician giving her first concert at the age of 11. In 1942 she obtained her Bachelor of Music Degree from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, with a major in piano and a minor in organ. She taught music theory at Mercyhurst College, Erie, Pa. Dorothy played piano and organ, coached piano students, and directed choirs at a number of churches in Erie, Smithfield, Cary and Clayton. She was a member of the Johnston County Choral Society, program director for the Aelian Music Club, and organist of the Tuesday Morning Music Club. Dorothy started the Music for the Lunch Bunch summer program in Smithfield, providing an opportunity for local talent, especially youth, to perform a concert during lunch time. She created the "Poet's Corner" and read poems on WMPM radio station, and arranged for the entertainment for the annual Festival of Trees. She also was the Conservation Chair for the Keep Johnston County Beautiful and helped to get recycling started in the county! She and Tony loved to travel. Most notable was their fifty day trip around the world to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Dorothy was acknowledged for her many contributions: she received the State Citation for Distinguished Services to the Cultural, Musical and Artistic Life of North Carolina; the Conservation Award from Woodmen of the World; the Excellence in Leadership and Outstanding Support of the Cultural Arts award from the Johnston County Arts Council; and the Paul Harris Fellow Humanitarian Honor from Rotary International. Dorothy is survived by her two children Michelle and Bruce (Fran), her son-in-law Marty whom she considered as a son, her grandchildren Remlee (Steve), Sandra (Adam), David (Desiree), Laura, Amber (John) and Cooper and her grandchild Nia, the daughter of Sandra and Adam. She is predeceased by her husband Tony Onisko, and daughter Kitty Crowe. Services will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 215 S 3rd St, Smithfield, on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. Dorothy requested that any donations be made to Heifer International.
Published in the Erie Times-News on Jan. 28, 2013