Richard Gottfried: A Tribute to the Tree of Life Victim

Facebook Richard Gottfried with his wife, Peg

Richard Gottfried was a well-liked man who volunteered in his community and ran a dental practice with his wife of almost 40 years. In his spare time, he volunteered for charities.

Tragically, he lost his life in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting at the hands of an anti-Semitic gunman. Gottfried was one of 11 victims to perish in the shooting. You can read more about the others here. The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97. To the one, they are remembered by those who knew and loved them as kind souls who cared about their faith and their families.

The same is true of Richard Gottfried.

Here’s what you need to know:


Richard Gottfried Ran a Dental Practice With His Wife, Peg Durachko

richard gottfried

FacebookRichard Gottfried

Richard Gottfried and his wife, Peg Durachko, ran a dental practice together in Pittsburgh.

According to The Washington Post, Gottfried was a regular attendee of the synagogue. He met his wife, who was Catholic, at the University of Pittsburgh, and they were married more than 38 years.

“He died doing what he liked to do most,” Don Salvin, Gottfried’s brother-in-law, told The Post.

The couple’s dental practice has a website called Gottfried & Durachko Dentistry. The website’s URL is “pittsburgh teeth.” The website says, “We make dentistry fun and safe. Emergency calls are always welcome. When emergency calls are made during early office hours we make every attempt to see you the same day. We are continuing education junkies who love what we do. Because we take our mission statement seriously we get to know our patients and their wants and desires. Then we thoroughly examine so that our treatment plans will be the best recommendation for them. We have 30 years and 29 years of experience between us, 26 of them right here on Center Avenue in West View.”


Gottfried Was a Volunteer Dentist

GettyTree of Life synagogue.

Richard Gottfried, who was also called Rich Gottfried by some, found time to help others. Gottfried’s biography on the dental practice website says he was a volunteer dentist who also counseled engaged couples. It reads:

“Dr. Richard Gottfried graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1974 with a Baccalaureate degree in English literature. He received his dental degree in 1980 also from Pitt, the year he and Dr. Durachko married. He began working in a large group practice until 1984 when he and Dr. Durachko started their own practice together. In 1996 they joined the Discovery Study Club, a local group that is part of a world wide organization of dentists and dental specialists who pursue excellence in dentistry through continuing education lectures and hands on workshops. In 2003 they completed the advanced curriculum at the Dawson Academy with a focus on advanced occlusal problems and TMJ diseases.

Dr. Gottfried is a volunteer Dentist for Catholic Charities Free Dental Clinic. He also enjoys working out; playing golf, reading, and running (he has completed 28 city of Pittsburgh Great Races.) He and Dr. Peg also prepare couples for marriage for St. Athanasius church.”

The bio for his wife adds, “She and her husband Dr. Rich Gottfried make their home in Ross Township. You may see them exercising at one of their favorite hangouts – Club Julian fitness center in their spare time. They have also been active in the West View Chamber of Commerce for many years.”


Gottfried’s Wife, Peg, Told Fellow Parishioners at Her Church That Everyone Must ‘Turn Away From Evil & Hatred’

synagogue victims

Getty People brought flowers to the scene.

Gottfried’s wife attends a Catholic Church. That parish, St. Athanasius, wrote on Facebook, “This tragedy has deeply affected all of us, but especially so as we found that one of the victims is Rich Gottfried, husband of St A’s parishioner Peg Durachko. Heartfelt prayers go out for Peg and all those families that were impacted by this senseless violence.”

A woman responded on the comment thread, “Yes knew both. Great people. My heart breaks for Peg.”

A friend wrote on Facebook, “More shock and sorrow this morning as we learned the identities of the synagogue shooting victims…we knew one of them personally, Rich Gottfried. His widow Peg was at church this morning. As we reached out to comfort her, I asked, what can we do to help. Peg said, ‘Tell everyone that evil took Rich’s life, and that we all need to repent, and turn away from evil and hatred.’ I promised to honor her wishes…please share if you are so inclined. Here is a photo of Peg & Rich taken during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year…I helped them write an article about it in our parish newsletter. Please keep all the victims and their family and friends in prayer.”

A woman added, “I unfortunately knew one of the men that was murdered yesterday at the Tree of Life synagogue…Richard ‘Dick’ Gottfried. I was his uncle’s caregiver for nearly 4 years which meant I would ‘schlep’ Dr B to most family functions. I grew to look forward to these outings because of the massive amount of love this family possess…love that hatred can not break. Please keep the Gottfried family in your prayers….”


The Other Victims Include a Retired Secretary & a Doctor

synagogue victims

Other victims of the shooting include (clockwise from left): Richard Gottfried, Cecil Rosenthal, Daniel Stein, and Joyce Fienberg,

The biographies of the other victims are starting to emerge. They include a new grandfather; two brothers who were well-known around the synagogue; a researcher married to a prominent professor; and a beloved doctor. You can read their stories here.

The names of the victims are as follows:

Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, City of Pittsburgh

Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township

Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough

Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill

His brother, David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill

Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg

Her husband, Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkinsburg

Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh

Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh

Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington, City of Pittsburgh

3 Comments

3 Comments

Diane Schafer

My Last Name is Gottfried. I could be a relation. I am a Jew living in Ohio. My deepist sympaphy for Richard and family.

Ellen Kent

My heart goes our to the families of all the victims. We will never know why this terrible tragedy happened. You are all in my prayers.