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Pump Room owner Mary Witt was 'kindest person you could ever meet'

By William Jones

Mary Witt's love for her family, compassion for everyone she met and history with Worth's famed Pump Room are on the minds of friends and family this week after her sudden death Easter Sunday.

Mrs. Witt suffered a heart attack and died March 23 at Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights. She was 52.

Mrs. Witt was born in Chicago, moved to Worth when she was a young girl and attended Richards High School in Oak Lawn. She is survived by her daughter, Jamie Barta, her son, Shawn, her sister, Anna Paulauskis, and seven grandchildren.

"She was a very compassionate, kind person," Barta said.

Barta said she and her mother had a very close relationship and that Mary enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren. She also loved The Pump Room, the bar she owned since 1986, and its patrons, Barta said.

Mrs. Witt began working at The Pump Room, 6908 W. 111th St., when she was 22 years old. In 1986, after working at the bar for nine years, Witt and her late husband, Gary, purchased the bar.

"Her whole life was with the bar and she cared a lot about the people coming in and out of there," Barta said.

Bill Kuhn, a regular customer of The Pump Room and motorcycle enthusiast, said the bar was always a great place for bikers to gather. Kuhn said Mary helped organize fund-raisers for his mother when she was diagnosed with cancer. Mrs. Witt never turned anyone down for a charity event, Kuhn said.

Kuhn remembered one Easter Sunday when two homeless men showed up at The Pump Room. Mrs. Witt paid them both to help clean the bar's parking lot and then fed them, Kuhn recalled.

"She was a very giving person," Kuhn said.

Chris Barta, Mrs. Witt's son-in-law, said the last fund-raiser Mary held was for the local SWAT team, which is independently financed. Mrs. Witt also made donations to the Worth Police and Fire departments, and worked with senior citizens, the parent teacher association and other community groups for more than 20 years, Chris said.

Mrs. Witt was also a very spiritual person, Jamie said. She was involved with the LightSource Foundation Church and was a Reiki Master Healer, a fact not known by many people, she added.

Mary was an ordained minister and performed several wedding, funeral and blessing services, Jamie said.

"She was the kindest person you could ever meet," said Lydia Janacek, a spiritual friend who met Witt through LightSource. "She loved everyone unconditionally."

A memorial service for Mrs. Witt was held March 28 at Schmaedeke Funeral Home in Worth.