October 30, 2004
LIMA — Looking through boxes upon boxes of school supplies Friday, 3-year-old Rhea Pintor was asked if she knew who had collected it all. “Daddy” was her answer. The supplies will be shipped to children in Iraq, a request from Rhea’s father, Army Capt. Dennis Pintor, before he was killed in a roadside bombing Oct. 12 while serving in Baghdad, Iraq. Family members of Pintor were shocked at the amount of school supplies the community has donated, the family looking at least 30 boxes stacked in Elida schools central office. Pintor was a 1992 Elida graduate. “It would not have been as successful had he been still with us, but this is a very apropos memorial to a man who did the job and did it well, and had a good time doing it,” said his mother, Ellen Pintor. Supplies have also been collected at St. Gerard School and all Lima school buildings. Ellen Pintor is a retired Lima schools teacher, and the family attended St. Gerard Catholic Church, where a memorial service was held Friday night. Residents, other schools, businesses and organizations donated supplies. There are also ongoing collections in Columbus and New York, where Pintor’s three siblings live. “This is kind of a reminder of the kind of person he was,” sister Diana Pintor, of Columbus, said while looking at the heap of supplies. “I know it makes Dennis look down on us and smile,” sister Sara Gartland, of New York, said later during the memorial service. She thanked people for their donations. Friday marked the last day of the collections of school supplies. Pintor had asked family members to send supplies and had e-mailed The Lima News a day before his death asking residents to send supplies. While surprised at the amount of supplies collected, family members were not surprised that Pintor wanted to help Iraqi children. “It is not a surprise that he asked,” Ellen Pintor said. “I think he himself would just be overwhelmed. Things like awesome would come to mind.” Pintor’s widow, Stacy Pintor, of Killeen, Texas, said her husband was in charge of overseeing several schools in Iraq. He was responsible for securing the schools’ safety and going after suspected terrorists. “Dennis believed in his country and he believed in that mission there (Iraq),” she said. “It pains me that nobody sees the good that is being done there. Not only did he believe in that mission, but he believed in the Iraqi people and he gave them the dignity and respect that they deserved.” Stacy Pintor said Dennis showed this to the men and women he led, and that they are carrying it on with his spirit. “That’s what made him so different than any other leader,” she said. “He was truly a leader above his years and rank. And his heart was always there. He lived and died for those soldiers because they become families when you are in situations like that.” Ellen Pintor said her son grew up around educators so education was very important to him. He had planned to teach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he was a graduate. Ellen Pintor remembers her son taking time to visit her classrooms at North Middle School on Veterans Day a few times. He would give them orders, assign platoon leaders and tell them to line them up in a certain way. “When a platoon didn’t do what they were supposed to do quick enough, he would say, ‘drop and give me five,’ but he also dropped and did the push-ups with the kids,” she said, the story making the rest of the family laugh. Ellen Pintor said the supplies will be sent to members of Bravo Company, 20th Engineers in Baghdad. Pintor served as the company’s commander. The service men and women there will distribute the supplies. While the collection of school supplies ended Friday, the family is still accepting donations to help with the cost of shipping the supplies. Donations can be sent to Lillian Abelita at 4101 Spencerville Road, Lima, OH 45805.