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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A trip to the dentist is filled with anxiety and fear for a lot of folks, but not for the patients of 65-year-old Dr. Richard Gottfried, or as they called him, Dr. Rich.
“His patients loved him. He was a great man of great compassion and great service,” Catholic Charities executive director Susan Raucher said.
Gottfried, of Ross Township, was killed in Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue as he was preparing for a new stage in life, retirement.
For 34 years, he ran dental offices in Ross and Westview with his wife, Margaret, better known as Peg. She is Catholic and the couple used their faith to help others.
“He was about helping everybody,” Raucher said. “Everywhere he could possibly be helpful, he was taking those hours and absolutely doing that. Regardless of source or background or any of that sort of things.”
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Gottfried graduated from Pitt’s dental school in 1980 and married Peg the same year. From there, he would volunteer at free dental clinics for patients who couldn’t afford the care.
“We reached out to his family because I can’t even imagine, if it’s this hard for us, what it must be like for them,” Raucher said. “But it brings us all back to knowing, believing and loving a god that takes care of us and helps us when we grieve.”
Growing up in Uniontown, he was the only boy in a family of four kids.
His youngest sister, Carol, was in the synagogue with him and survived the shooting. Loved ones called him the epitome of a family man who just celebrated his 38th wedding anniversary.
In a tweet, his nephew Jacob said, “Today I lost an important person in my life. My uncle was murdered doing what he loved, praying to God.”
A devout man of faith, Gottfried was president of the New Light Congregation. Last year, he carried sacred scrolls of the Torah to the Tree of Life when his congregation found a new home.