Rose Mallinger remembered as ‘sweetest woman I ever knew’ by family friend

November 20, 2018

Even at 97, Rose Mallinger walked everywhere in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood she called home.

She was sharp, witty and the “sweetest woman I ever knew,” said David Muskal, who grew up with Mallinger’s children and remains in close contact with the family and his old neighborhood of Squirrel Hill despite living in Charlotte, N.C.

Muskal, 63, said he was heartbroken to hear that Mallinger was among the 11 people killed Saturday in the Tree of Life Congregation. Mallinger’s daughter, Andrea Wedner, 61, was wounded in the attack and remains hospitalized, he said. Muskal said Wedner’s injuries are not life threatening but she may need another surgery.

“Words can’t express what a good woman this was,” Muskal said of Mallinger in a phone interview from his home. “She was like a second mom. My heart is crushed.”

Muskal and another close friend -- Guy Costa, Pittsburgh’s chief operations officer -- said they’ve known the Mallingers for 50 years. They attended Taylor Alderdice High School with Mallinger’s three children and were very close with her son, Alan, known to friends as “Mal.”

Muskal said spoke with Alan Mallinger by phone after the shooting.

“It probably hasn’t set in for him,” Muskal said. “Mal’s a strong character.”

He and Costa said Rose Mallinger watched over the neighborhood from the porch of her home on Ferree Street. She walked everywhere. She made the best Jell-O in the world and would skip rope on her porch for exercise well into her 60s, according to Muskal.

“She loved to walk,” Costa said. “I think that’s what kept her so spry. You never think that something like this could happen in your back yard, and this is our back yard. ”

Costa, 62, lives in Squirrel Hill and his mother lives around the corner from Tree of Life, he said.

Muskal said he is heading to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to help comfort the Mallingers.

“My heart pours out to Mal and his family,” he said. “The bottom line is a vibrant person lost her life. It’s sickening.”

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