Homage to a Duquesne Icon

Today, I learned of the passing of Mrs. Rosemary Denne (nee’ Curran). Mrs. Denne  was the city Treasurer and Tax Collector for the City of Duquesne, retiring  in November 2014 after 12 years of service for the city.



I met Mrs. Denne when on a visit to Duquesne after I had begun writing this blog. She was still at City Hall, working diligently as City Treasurer. She was kind enough to meet with me and talk about her myriad of memories of Duquesne and the people. She wasn’t familiar with my blog at that time, so I gave her the necessary information to access the posts, and she seemed very excited about reading it.

Months later, I heard from Mrs. Denne about the difficulty she was having in being able to find the time and resources to read the blog. As a favor to her, on my next visit to Duquesne, I had printed a large collection of my posts and the subsequent comments from those who had been reading the blog. I gave her a rather weighty binder, full of  posts for her to read and hopefully, enjoy.

I am reposting an excerpt from a post on this blog from 2011 that speaks to the spirit and love Mrs. Denne possessed for her community. She had written a comment about Duquesne High School sports and her enthusiasm for the teams.

Mrs. Denne…… you will be missed.

Homage to Duquesne High School Sports!

A devoted fan of the Duquesne High School sports teams, Ms. Rosemary Denne, has followed and cheered for Duquesne High School for over 70 years! A few months ago, Ms. Denne sent in some information about herself:

Rosemary Denne

Maiden Name = Curran, my dad was a Dentist here

Years in Duquesne = I have lived here since 1936 and still do

Comments = I am so excited about this [blog].  I am the city Treasurer and Tax Collector for the City of Duquesne and use my computer here at city hall.  I am very busy now, since the Real Estate taxes have just gone out, but I want to keep getting these pictures and comments.  I don’t know whether anybody still remembers me, as I am 83 years old.

Ms. Denne has graciously allowed me to post the article that she wrote that was published in the local newspapers:


Farewell faithful followers of the red and white! From John Donelli to Pat Monroe, from Bill Lemmer to Montel Staples, from Alex Medich and the hundreds in between, to Elijah Fields, the Dunn brothers and all of the Washingtons, I have been here cheering you on and I have loved every minute of it.

Because you did your best for Duquesne High, I have stood a little bit taller all of my life as I have stood right there beside you.

My dad played football and baseball in 1916 and 1917. Among our most treasured family heirlooms are team photos of my father and his teammates on the front steps of our alma mater. The 1917 team finished their season without a coach since Vance Allshouse (a Duquesne dentist) was called away to World War I in midseason.

From 1936 to the present, I have been there. When I was a child, we didn’t have an automobile, but my father, my brothers and I walked to every home game. We took the streetcar and walked up Cardiac Hill in Oakland for playoff basketball games. Powerful, positive memories of those bygone days and those of the ’90s and 2005 don’t fade with the passage of the decades. I am grateful!’ Following Duquesne athletic teams was our main form of entertainment.

After I got married, I turned my husband into a Duquesne fan and he was one of the most faithful and loyal of them all. Our marriage was strengthened through our mutual devotion to “our Dukes.” Our oldest child played football under the firm direction of Mike Kopolovich, who was instrumental in securing a. fine football scholarship for him. One of our daughters played basketball and two others were cheerleaders. Our grandson scored the first three points in our beautiful new gym and another grandson received the John Phillip Sousa Award for his talents in the band. We worked in the refreshment stand, arranged fan buses and helped organize banquets.

During the past 20 years, if anything, our support for Duquesne athletes only became more important to us. The dedicated coaches, as well, as the cheerleaders and athletes, treated us like family When my husband’s health started to fail, Montel Staples made sure that we could ride on the cheerleader or team bus to playoff games. I am convinced that my husband lived longer because of his anticipation of the 2002 playoff run. On some of those days, when his heart was so weak that he slept for 16 hours a day, his first waking words were, invariably, “What about the Dukes? Call Montel.”

Since my husband died five years ago, Duquesne coaches and fans have made sure that my life’s best form of entertainment has continued. I am so grateful! My grandson holds the record for the most three-pointers scored in any game by a DHS player.

As of the last home basketball game, I was still selling 50/50 tickets and I really enjoyed it. I will miss all of the good friends I have made and love. I will miss the thrill of winning and the painful important lessons of losing. We won so many more times than we lost. Between 1941 and 2005, I attended seven state championship games with my Dukes.

During the last 40 years and particularly during the last 20 (since our steel mill closed), we reveled in the role of underdogs, consistently finding ways to demonstrate excellence while competing against bigger, stronger, and much larger (in population) opponents. We were survivors! We were champions! We consistently overcame the odds. With the deck stacked against us, we. never blinked. What a glorious ride!

I went from a little girl fan to a surrogate grandmother. I worked hard to support the athletes through the years. But they gave me so much more than I gave them. We are told to “Bloom where you are planted.” I was planted in Duquesne arid I thank God for the opportunities provided to me as a DHS fan over the past decades.

I will remain a high school sports fan, but the thrill will be gone forever. I’ll never again holler “Let’s go Dukes.” Thanks for the memories and may the Lord go with all of you.

Rosemary Denne is the current City
Treasurer of Duquesne and longtime
Duquesne High School fan.

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18 Responses to Homage to a Duquesne Icon

  1. Jerome Dittman says:

    Sorry, but the Ponist name does not ring any bells in my memory. I went to St. Joseph’s for the first eight school years; the next 4 in the public school graduating in 1945. I checked my 3 year books and found a Martin Ponist as a senior in the 1943 Echo. His photo does not bring any memory of him. Resembles the star of 3 Men and a Boy, I can’t think of his name. That means I did not know him personally; he was a senior and I a sophomore. Sophomores stayed away from the seniors to reduce the chance of an encounter with them around the corner of 1st and Grant. If, caught there you took the chance of having your pants removed and thrown into the drug store alongside of the Plaza, initiation to high school. Our, seniors and myself, paths never crossed; some others weren’t so lucky.

    • rich ivory says:

      John Ponist graduated with me in 1958. He lived on 2nd Street not far from Grant Ave.
      As I recall from a class reunion , he was living in California. Really a nice person.

      • Roger Yurko says:

        John was my cousin. To the family he was (is) called Jack. Has a brother Ronald. Jack is a lawyer in California. Not sure about the address. But the Ponist’s owned the house on 2nd Street. Thanks for the response.

  2. richard ivory says:

    Akex :(Head) Medich passed away in 2003.
    Part of an article from the Post Gazette at that time

    Alex Medich, a legendary sports figure in the Mon Valley and the driving force of the Duquesne Serbs basketball team for many years, died of kidney failure Wednesday in West Penn Hospital. He was 77.
    Mr. Medich was a member of the Serbs in the 1940s, ’50s, and early ’60s. In those days, the Serbs were former college players who practiced daily in the Duquesne Library gymnasium and barnstormed the tri-state area in search of top competition.
    “We were looked on at that time as one of the best teams in the Pittsburgh area,” Mr. Medich said two years ago. He also served as the team’s owner, coach, general manager and publicity director over the years.
    “We have everything wrapped around our sports program,” Medich said of the Serbian community in Duquesne. “Without our basketball, we would have faded away.”
    Mr. Medich, a three-sport standout at Duquesne High School from 1942 to 1944, was the point guard on the Dukes’ basketball team that won the state championship in 1944. He also was an end on the football team and a pitcher for the baseball team.
    Mr. Medich pitched in the minor leagues in the Cleveland Indians system and had a tryout in football with the Green Bay Packers. His football career ended with a knee injury during the preseason. He was an assistant manager and trainer with the Pittsburgh Pipers of the old American Basketball Association from 1968 to 197

  3. ken denne says:

    Ruhe,Denne,Manns, Gruber…Those families contained 51 first cousins….When Buck Denne married Rosemary Curran, he added one beautiful,caring, icon to our relationship. Good night sweet princess, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!!Ken Denne..glad to have known such a remarkable, loving human being…

  4. Paul R. Sebastian says:

            Thank you so much for the news of Rosemary Denne.  She’s a real gem and her children too.  I would see her often at St. Joseph Church and at the St. Agnes Charismatic Prayer group.  She was a kindly person and was wonderful with my brother, Fred who had a severe mental illness…….bless his soul.  We’ll have one big party someday in eternity with all of those great Duquesne icons, including my mother who did all that free dental work for religious and modest pricing for all through the depression.  Until she died in 2006 she was horrified by the high prices that dentists today charge.         Thank you for continuing with the Duquesne Hunky.  It’s keeping alive childhood memories along with the history and old traditions of our town from its hey day.  It continues to keep alive what’s left of Duquesne.           Thank you for being a follower of my blog (paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com).  I feel honored.  God bless. 

    • Jim says:

      Paul, you are very welcome. I believe I told you before, your mother was my dentist when she was at the bank building on Grant Ave and also from your home in Duquesne Place!! I was never fearful when going to see her. I remember her delightful accent as well. All the best to you!

  5. bornyek says:

    Jim,   Thank you for sharing this remarkable story.  Mrs. Denne was a devoted person and a superb writer.  Mentioning her father being a dentist, my dentist as a kid in Duquesne was Dr. Umholtz, not sure if that is the spelling.  There are about 700 of my most recent graphics on my Facebook page and here is my latest, the ‘Star Signature Signet’ of Adam Carolla, created from his signature.  Regards,  George Bornyek  

  6. Rosemarie Palinsky says:

    My grandparents had the first house on the right side of Dell Street and an alley separated them from the homes on Kennedy Ave. Rosemary and her father passed through the alley on the way home from church every Sunday and always spoke to my grandparents. Whenever Rosemary passed through she always had a kind words and a smile for them. After my grandfather’s brother passed away her husband always kept after his grave at St. Joseph’s cemetery as my grandfather aged and could not keep after it. ITheir name was Sakson. I remember Rosemary well and her father too. May she rest in peace.

  7. richard ivory says:

    Strange as it seems … her dad was my dentist. he had his business on the corner of 4th and Grant in what was a ultra modern building for the time. (white – Spanish). I never appreciated going to a dentist until years later when other dentist remarked on his skill. As I remember her brother was a college quarterback.. Do I have the right Dr. Curran?

    If so …he was a class persont

    • Ken Denne says:

      Rich, Doc Curran walked from his home on Highland every day to his office on 4th St. Still see him walking down Kennedy ave. waving to me as I lived on Friendship!!!

  8. Jerome dittman says:

    I went to St. Joseph’s with both Rosemary and her husband, Carl for the full 8 years. Thanks for posting of her passing; they are leaving us one by one. Should anyone from those days at St. Joseph’s, 1935 -1941, be reading this and remember me; I would love to hear from them . I have a photo of the 8th grade class of 1941, of which I was a member. Copies for anyone wishing. All of the class members are identified, so, no guessing who is whom. I also still have my “43, “44, & ’45
    ECHO year books will provide photo copies should you have a relative graduating in those years.

    I now live live in Boonsboro, MD and recently started the second year of my 9th decade. My objective now is to try to match the excitement of passing from the 20th to 21st century, with my passing from my first century to the start of my 2nd century. Everything looks good right and God willing I just might make it.

    As I am a family genealogist should anyone be related to any Dittman family branch contact me to see whether I have you in my files, and find out about the Dittman family back to the 16th century hwen the family name was DÜTMANN..

    • Roger (Matthias) Yurko says:

      Just read your post. I am somewhat familiar with Duquesne at that time. Does the name Ponist mean anything to you. Lived on Wylie Ave and the 2nd Street. The boys, my uncles were active in the mill (John)’ the police (Joe), the Passion play at Holy Trinity ( several of the boys). Connections with Getner’s, Kloska and us, the Yurkos. Would love to hear from you to investigate any other connection

  9. Sharon Denne Beal says:

    Thank you so much. I am crying as I read this, because Rosemary Denne was my Mom. I have always been and will always be so proud of my parents. They led by example.

    • Jim says:

      Sharon, my deepest sympthies and your entire family. Your Mom was a wonderful person that I unfortunately knew for only a short time. She certainly will be remembered.

    • Candice Adams Manspeaker says:

      Sharon. I am crying while reading this too. You have soooooo many reasons to be very proud of your parents. They are awesome people. So classy, so kind, so giving, and so fun. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. Hopefully knowing that your parents are in paradise together will help you get through this tough time of losing your mother. I’ll be praying for you and your family to help you through this rough road of your lives.
      Love Candice Adams Manspeaker.

  10. John Nagy says:

    Great blog, Jim. When I was 16, I drove a “Mr Frosty” ice cream truck for Alex Medich. I wonder if he is still with us?

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