Milica V. Pellington

She nursed her Colts linebacker husband after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and took part in charity events

March 18, 2010|By Jacques Kelly

Milica V. "Micki" Pellington, a homemaker who nursed her husband, Colts linebacker Bill Pellington, after his diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease, died of heart failure Monday at the Keswick Multi-Care Center. The Mercy Ridge resident was 82.

Born Milica Vukovich in St. Louis, Mo., she attended high school there and earned a degree at Washington University. She was an avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

In 1955, she met her future husband, William "Bill" Pellington, while he was playing at an exhibition game in her hometown. They married in 1957, a year before the Colts captured the NFL championship in New York. He was the team's defensive captain.

"I was with Bill the night he met Micki," said Gino Marchetti, the Colts defensive end. "She was with her sister. The family was extremely close. Micki was a strong lady."

After their marriage, Mrs. Pellington appeared at local charity efforts on behalf of the Colt wives.

"All the Colt wives were involved in civic activities," said her son, William M. Pellington of Lutherville. "It was an amazing time, and there was a great fraternity among the Colts and their wives."

According to a 2004 Baltimore Sun article, she told a reporter, "I'm Mrs. 36" at an event at the Babe Ruth Museum. Mr. Pellington's uniform number was 36.

"She had a very positive personality," said Joan "Pert" Mutscheller, a longtime friend and the wife of Colts player Jim Mutscheller. "When she had an opinion, that was it."

Her husband opened the Iron Horse Restaurant in Timonium in 1963, but she rarely visited the popular dining spot.

"She was never really in the restaurant," said Mrs. Mutscheller. "But she was always so proud that her husband, no matter how busy he was, came home every night for the family dinner. She thought he was the greatest guy in the world."

Her son said Mrs. Pellington devoted herself to raising her three children.

"She was awesome," he said. "She did the car pool and the rec council, made the lunches and attended the dance recitals. My father wasn't always around a lot, with his playing sports and running a restaurant. So she was the mother and the father at times. She administered the discipline and gave the love and the support."

More than 20 years ago, Mr. Pellington was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and she became his caregiver until his death in 1994.

"She was selfless and completely dedicated to him," her son said.

She was a two-term board member of the Alzheimer's Association of Central Maryland.

Sun columnist John Steadman wrote in 1993 of the football player's disease and his wife's role in caring for him:

"This 6-foot-2, 232-pound package of determination and the body of a stevedore has become childlike," Steadman wrote. "His wife, Micki, a winner if there ever was one, refuses to ask for sympathy nor does she engage in self-pity. Micki Pellington now has to think and act for her husband.

"Micki saw the early signs, too, but wanted to believe it was something else. Maybe a lapse of memory, a touch of amnesia. Then, with Bill not getting any better, she accompanied him on a visit to a specialist, and the medical opinion was one she didn't want to hear - Alzheimer's," the columnist wrote.

Her son said Mrs. Pellington enjoyed spending summers with her children at a family cottage on the New Jersey shore. She and her husband retired to a second home in the Bahamas, where she enjoyed walking the beaches and collecting sea shells.

She and her sister, Radmilla, later took numerous cruises to Europe, South America and the Caribbean. She also enjoyed reading and painting.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at St. Stephen's Traditional Episcopal Church, 11856 Mays Chapel Road, where she was a member.

Survivors also include another son, Mark J. Pellington of Los Angeles; a daughter, Stacey P. Zidi of Seminole, Fla.; and six grandchildren.

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