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Posted: October 3, 2012 9:48 a.m.

Elderly victims die in Rockdale fire

Investigators have released the names of the two victims in the house fire at 1573 Mountain View Circle. Peggy Stanich, 78, and Frank Bitterman II, 68, were found unconscious when firefighters arrived to the burning house.

Stanich, a long time Conyers resident and a member of the Olivia Haydel Senior Center for the past 11 years, owned the home and rented a room to Bitterman, a retired veteran who initially lived out of state but came to Georgia for medical treatment at the Veteran's Administration hospital.
Senior Center members Dorothea Cox and Chris Tinker recalled that Bitterman had been sleeping in his car when he came to town for medical treatments.

Cox and Tinker described Stanich as unstoppable and constantly involved in activities and trips at the Center. Stanich was a chaplain for the Red Hat Ladies club that Cox ran. Stanich had also been a part of the Memory Lane singers and Golden Steppers dance group.

"She insisted on going on every trip, even if we had to help her," said Cox. Stanich had foot problems and walked with a cane, but she didn't let that slow her down.
Senior Center administrator Susan Morgan recalled Stanich attended a trip earlier this year out to a game ranch that involved a lot of walking. "She was such a trooper. She wasn't going to let anything stop her."

"Peggy was very self sufficient," said Tinker. "She lived within her income. If she didn't have the money, she would do without."

She was also thoughtful and positive and never sat around and complained, said Tinker. "If you did something nice for her, she would bring you a gift."

"She lived for the future every day," said Tinker.

Stanich had a daughter who lived in the area and occasionally attended covered dish suppers at Conyers First United Methodist.

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