Mystery solved (partially)

  • By Park Burroughs October 13, 2013
Mystery Photo No. 45

A couple of neighbors on Donnan Avenue in Washington, both named Phyllis, found a recognizable face in this week’s Mystery Photo. Phyllis Doria could hardly wait to show the paper to Phyllis Anderson last Monday, because Phyllis Anderson’s daughter was on the front page of the newspaper.

Contacted by telephone at her home in Homestead, Fla., Tracy Anderson DeVary, daughter of Bob and Phyllis Anderson, confirmed the identification.

“I know that’s me because of that dress,” she said. “I always hated that dress – red, green and white plaid. I have a first-grade picture somewhere of me in that same dress.”

After college, DeVary became an X-ray technician but changed careers and is now the manager of Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo. She and her husband, David, moved to Florida in 1998. They have three children: Damian, 18, Jacob, 12, and Madelyn, 10. “All of them are avid readers, by the way,” she said.

DeVary went to Seventh Ward Elementary School and graduated from Washington High School. She thinks the photo was taken, however, at Citizens Library in Washington around 1970. Phyllis Doria agrees.

“We used to take our girls there all the time for story time,” she said. “Those low shelves look like the ones they had for children there.”

Unfortunately, no one has come forward to identify the boy. Also, we have no idea for what purpose the picture was taken, or how it ended up in a box of negatives from the Observer-Reporter’s Canonsburg office, which closed more than 40 years ago.

We’re still hoping that someone might come forward with more information so that we can close this case.

Look for another Mystery Photo in next Monday’s Observer-Reporter.

Photo update: Bill Reese, who identified all the kids on Duncan Avenue in the Mystery Photo of Sept. 23 and 30, wondered if any of them beside him were still alive. Jean Duncan Hawthorne called last week to confirm she is alive and living in State College. (She is the tall girl with hair parted in the middle.) “I’m still getting around all right, and I was still downhill skiing until six years ago.” A friend from the state of California mailed her the photo clipped from the newspaper.

Park Burroughs has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1972. He is the winner of numerous state and regional awards for feature, column and editorial writing. He is the author of two books, “Enter, With Torches: Recollections of a Grumpy Old Editor,” and "Washington County Murder and Mayhem." He retired in September 2012 but continues to contribute to the O-R’s news pages.


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