Passings

Welsh made life easier in Financial Information Systems

Richard S. Welsh, a staff member with more than 25 years at Pitt – for the last 17 years as development manager in the Financial Information Systems department of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer – died Nov. 19, 2019.

Rich Welsh was born on March 1, 1963. After studying computer science at Pitt, Welsh’s first University job was student programmer in the housing services department in 1993. He was hired as a full-time programmer analyst there the next year, then joined Financial Information Systems in 2002, where he worked as a developer and manager. A statement from his department called Welsh “a well-respected, excellent leader and an innovative developer.”

Welsh’s work involved creating websites, including his department’s own website, and smaller applications, such as forms. His supervisor for most of his time in Financial Information Systems was Carol Zielinski, applications director.

“He always worked extra hard,” Zielinski recalled. “He would work at home to get things done. All his staff had respect for him, and he knew how to motivate people. There wasn’t anything he thought was beneath him.”

Approached to work on new technology, “whatever it was, he would figure it out,” she said of Welsh. “He worked day and night to figure it out. He was there for me, and he made my life easier as a manager.”

He is survived by his son, Richard H. Welsh; long-time companion Tina M. Stone; parents Richard K. and Laverne Welsh; siblings Shawn, Steven (Dana) and Lori McDonald (Larry); stepchildren David J., Brittney E. and Victoria A.; and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Former med school associate dean Levey was an advocate for women faculty

Barbara Levey, a former associate dean and director of admissions and assistant dean for curriculum at the School of Medicine, who is remembered for helping to increase female medical student admissions and serving as a role model for female medical faculty, died Oct. 29, 2019, at 84.

Barbara Ann Cohen, born March 7, 1935 in Newburgh, N.Y., graduated from Cornell University in 1957 and in 1961 she earned an M.D. from the State University of New York at Syracuse — the only woman in her graduating class of 120. She joined Pitt, 1979-91, as a professor of pharmacology and of medicine, serving on Association of American Medical Colleges committees supporting women in medicine.

Alan Robinson, a former endocrinology Pitt faculty member and vice chair of medicine, recalled Levey as “a real proponent of equality of admissions for women. That was the stand-out achievement of her time there at Pittsburgh.”

For School of Pharmacy Dean Patricia Kroboth — a clinical pharmacist — Levey’s work as a clinical pharmacologist was most impressive. Kroboth recalls her division and Levey’s department cooperating in new ways: “We established a wonderful relationship where pharmacy students and medical students could see patients with interesting pharmacological challenges.” The pairing also created the first grand rounds for pharmacy and medical students to examine medically complicated cases related to medications.

“I remember Barbara’s enthusiasm for the interaction and for educating students.” She also recalled Barbara and her husband, Gerald Levey, who was chair of the department of medicine at the Pitt School of Medicine from 1979-1991, as “gracious hosts who often had groups of people to dinner at their home. It was a wonderful time.”

Mary Korytkowski, a medicine faculty member who joined Pitt in 1989, recalls the Leveys as both very welcoming: “As a junior faculty member, I felt very supported by her husband, but I held her in particularly high regard. She was certainly a role model for women who were junior faculty at the time. I remember talking about having a family, because my children were very young when I came here. … She was very supportive of having a family and a career together.”

Patricia Bononi, an endocrinologist with Partners in Nephrology and Endocrinology who graduated from the School of Medicine in 1985, said: “She was a tremendous role model for me, especially during medical school. I remember someone telling us the first day of medical school that our class was 30 percent female — the highest percentage of enrolled women at the time. I am certain that was entirely due to her efforts.”

Barbara Levey left Pitt with her husband in 1991 and in 1994 joined the UCLA faculty as assistant vice chancellor for biomedical affairs and adjunct professor of medicine and of molecular and medical pharmacology. There, she received National Institutes of Health grants to support training and research in clinical pharmacology — in particular, patient-oriented research training that focused on medical issues affecting minority populations. She was president of the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and on numerous academic committees to support clinical pharmacology.

Barbara Levey is survived by her husband of 58 years, son John Levey and daughter in-law Michele Kersman; daughter, Robin (Levey) Burkhardt; three grandchildren, Lia, Jaden and Simon Burkhardt; sister-in-law Beverly Cohen; brother and sister-in-law Robert and Paula Westerman; four nephews, a niece, and 10 grandnieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Barbara A. Levey, M.D., and Gerald S. Levey, M.D., Scholarship at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Checks to the UCLA Foundation, with Levey Scholarship in the memo, may be sent c/o Emily McLaughlin, UCLA Health Sciences Development, 10889 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90024, emclaughlin@support.ucla.edu, 310-794-4763.

— Marty Levine

Bernard Fisher in library

Bernard Fisher advanced breast cancer research while serving in School of Medicine

Bernard Fisher, pioneering breast cancer researcher and a distinguished service professor in the School of Medicine, died on Oct. 16, 2019, at 101.

Fisher advanced the understanding of the clinical biology of breast cancer and pioneered the design and implementation of large-scale multi-institutional randomized clinical trials.

He earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees at Pitt in 1940 and 1943, respectively, joining Pitt shortly after as the medical school’s first full-time Department of Surgery faculty member. In 1953, he established the University’s first Laboratory of Surgical Research and contributed to the development of transplantation and vascular surgery. He performed the first kidney transplant in Pittsburgh in 1964 and directed surgical research here in liver regeneration, transplant rejection and hypothermia.

In 1958, Fisher began to focus on cancer research, becoming a founding member (1958) and later chairman (1967-1994) of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP). His subsequent research led him to challenge breast cancer treatment dogma that had prevailed since the 19th century — that patients were best treated with radical mastectomy. His studies in the 1970s proved that less extensive procedures — lumpectomies — had similar survival rates.

Fisher’s research also showed the value of adding systemic, adjuvant chemotherapy or hormonal therapy and of employing tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention. “No clinical therapy should be determined by emotion or conviction — the determinant must be the scientific method,” Fisher said in a 2009 video interview shown at that year’s annual Pitt lecture named in his honor.

“Bernard Fisher was one of the great medical pioneers of our time,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher in remarks released by Pitt. “His research at the University of Pittsburgh fundamentally changed how clinicians treat breast cancer — and saved an untold number of lives along the way.”

Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, called Fisher “a titan. His research improved and extended the lives of untold numbers of women who suffered the scourge of breast cancer. His work overturned the dominant paradigm of cancer progression and, to the benefit of all, demonstrated the systemic nature of metastasis. This work offered us great insight into the biology of all cancer.”

Fisher received numerous honors throughout his career, including the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, the American Association for Cancer Research Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research and an honorary doctorate from Pitt. A member of the National Academy of Medicine, he was appointed to the President’s Cancer Panel and the National Cancer Advisory Board and was the first surgeon to serve as president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

He is survived by his three children — Beth Fisher (Dr. Harvey Himel), Joseph Fisher (Debra) and Louisa Rudolph (James) — five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Jan Smith in hospital scrubs

Jan Smith was the ‘conscience and soul’ of anesthesiology department

Jan Smith — likely the longest-serving faculty member in the School of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, who worked in the greatest number of Pitt and UPMC medical facilities locally and worldwide — died Sept. 6, 2019.

His departmental colleague Mark Hudson says Smith “was always considered the conscience and soul of the department.”

Jan Daniel Smith was born on Feb. 6, 1939 in Pretoria, South Africa. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pretoria School of Medicine in 1961. He interned at McCord Hospital, Durban (an American mission hospital) and took additional training in pediatrics, internal medicine and anesthesia in Durban’s Addington and King Edward VIII Hospitals

In 1964, Smith joined the anesthesiology residency program at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, then completed both a critical care and a pulmonary fellowship at Pitt.

In 1969, he began internal medicine training at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa, then returned to Pitt in 1971 to finish this training and join the University faculty.

Smith moved to the University of Iowa College of Medicine’s pulmonary division in 1974; to the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio in 1976 as a pulmonologist and then in both anesthesiology and internal medicine; to the chairmanship in anesthesiology at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in 1983; and to the Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine in 1985.

In 1987, he returned to Pitt and was appointed chief of anesthesiology at UPMC Presbyterian, 1988-1996. During his sabbatical year of 1994, he earned a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from the Royal College of Physicians.

In the years that followed, Smith’s roles shifted with the expansion of UPMC. He became chief of anesthesiology and medical director at UPMC Beaver Valley until 2000, when he moved to help develop ISMETT, the UPMC transplant and major surgical center in Sicily. He returned to the Pitt campus in 2002 as vice chair for clinical operations until his retirement in 2006 as professor of anesthesiology, internal medicine and critical care medicine.

As an emeritus, Smith continued his association with the department as a volunteer teacher and, in 2009, assisted with the development of UPMC Beacon Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, as its associate medical director. Volunteering as a teacher in sub-Saharan Africa, he also was appointed an Extraordinary Professor of Medicine at the University Pretoria School of Medicine.

In 2011, the Allegheny County Medical Society recognized his 50 years of service with its Award for Volunteer Work, and in 2013, his department’s Education Office named a classroom in his honor.

“Jan has been a presence in the department and participated even after his retirement with mentoring,” recalled Hudson, who first joined UPMC under Smith’s leadership and eventually took over for Smith as vice chair for clinical operations in 2006.

At ISMETT, Hudson said, “Jan was instrumental in the creation of the academic environment for the institution,” while Hudson aided with the clinical staff. Smith used his love of travel for good, Hudson said, “helping to improve the medical care in many places. He was a remarkable gentleman anesthesiologist” who excelled at “establishing relationships in a very thoughtful way.” He called Hudson’s group of Pitt anesthesiologists “the generation that really established the anesthesiology department.”

Smith’s expertise was centered on pulmonary medicine, lung injury, patient safety issues and critical care medicine applications. The departmental classroom was named in his honor, Hudson explained, because Smith “really influenced the educational program for our residents.”

“He and his wife were some of the most generous, genuine people I have known,” Hudson added. “He was just a genuinely friendly, thoughtful person. Everyone loved him.”

Jennifer Branik, executive assistant to the chair and vice chair of the anesthesiology department and Smith’s right-hand person for the past 17 years, recalled him as “the historian for the department … doing essentially anything that was asked of him.

“He was absolutely one of a kind,” she continued. “He was a class act and in my personal opinion he was thoughtful, caring, and probably the most generous man you’d meet in your life. He made an appreciable difference in people’s lives, both personally and professionally. He was the consummate man and the consummate professional.”

Smith is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jeanette Niemeyer Smith, and three children, Robert (Kathy Van Stone), Andrew (Sandra Espinosa) and Anita (Dr. Andrew Murray) and nine grandchildren. 

Memorial gifts are suggested to Baptist Homes Foundation, 500 Providence Point Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15243 or the Salvation Army.

— Marty Levine

Doerfler brought real-world expertise to teaching dental residents

Richard Doerfler, a practicing orthodontist whose teaching took students from anatomy to the business of practicing dentistry, died Sept. 18, 2019.

Doerfler earned his undergraduate degree from St. Vincent College in 1982 and graduated from Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine in 1986, where he was a teaching assistant. In addition, he received master’s degrees in anthropology and anatomy from Pitt, as well as a Master of Dental Science in Orthodontics degree from the dental school here.

He had orthodontic practices in Clearfield and State College, from which he travelled to the School of Dental Medicine beginning in 2001 to lend his expertise as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

“The residents enjoyed working with him and appreciated what he had to offer them,” said department chair Joseph Petrone, “particularly because it was seasoned with a private practice (perspective). He was teaching them what made him successful.”

When Doerfler sold his practice several years ago, he increased his commitment to teaching at Pitt, adding anatomy classes to his repertoire. But he was particularly valued by the residents, Petrone said: “He definitely mentored residents in their transition to their careers in the private sector,” advising them on everything from contracts to partnering in a practice, which is a complicated business decision.

“His mentoring role for the residents in that transition to the real world was really important,” Petrone added.

Doerfler started an endowed fund, the Orthodontics Residency Fund, to provide support for Pitt dental school residents’ travel and research. He received the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award in 2019 for advanced education. 

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Jane Gravatt Doerfler; his son, William Reed Doerfler; his daughter-in-law, Lindsey Saldin; and his daughter, Bethany Doerfler, as well as his mother, Barbara Doerfler, and siblings Linda (Joseph) Bartolacci, Judy (Angelo) Napoleone, James (Theresa) Doerfler, Mary (Thomas) Callaghan, and Bethany (Samuel Karow) Doerfler.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Pitt Dental Medicine Orthodontics Residency Fund or to the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

— Marty Levine

Biology lecturer Bledsoe was avian expert and honored teacher

Anthony Bledsoe, a 31-year biological sciences department lecturer and accomplished avian expert, died Sept. 14, 2019.

“Tony was truly beloved by his students,” said his long-time departmental colleague, Walter Carson. “He was a spectacular ornithologist.”

After earning a master’s from the University of California–Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. in biology from Yale, Bledsoe joined the Pitt faculty in 1987. In 2006, he won the student-selected Bellet Teaching Excellence Award as an outstanding undergraduate teacher in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences.

He conducted two classes at Pitt’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology — ecology and ornithology — and on the Pittsburgh campus he taught Foundations of Biology II as well as courses on taxonomy and vertebrate morphology. He also served for many years on students’ Ph.D. committees. He retired from Pitt in 2018,

From the beginning of his career here, as a post-doctorate, Bledsoe teamed with colleague Robert J. Raikow on ornithological research, eventually earning the cover of the prestigious journal BioSciences in 2000. He also studied specimens at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in early efforts to recover their genetic materials. His research focused on DNA hybridization in avian evolution and phylogeny, as well as the anatomical and molecular structures of birds.

He also was a member of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania’s board of trustees.

Carson recalled Bledsoe as “very erudite, very professional,” and that his teaching methods were “classic,” avoiding PowerPoint in favor of chalkboards or whiteboards and an overhead projector. “He was particularly adept at conveying difficult concepts,” Carson said.

Another departmental colleague, Laurel Roberts, met Bledsoe when he arrived at the University. She was a graduate student at the time. “He had a kind of reserved and refined (demeanor) — but he was also a warm and generous person,” she recalled. “He had incredible attention to detail and high standards for students to meet.”

Roberts remembered joining a bird walk Bledsoe hosted at Pymatuning. He showed up in his classroom garb of chinos and a pressed white shirt. “I came back with mud everywhere … and Tony looked like he had just stepped out of the dressing room at Macy’s. Tony had this jazzy cool when he was in his element.”

He was generous to the end, she said, calling her three months ago to say he was proposing her for the local Audubon chapter’s board. “It came out of the blue,” she said. “I am nowhere the ornithologist he was, but he is really interested in promoting diversity. … He worked hard to make sure my nomination had been presented. He called me (in early September) and told me it was going well. I think it was his last project. I feel like he passed the torch along, making sure that science at Pitt was represented.”

He is survived by his wife, Meg, and brother, Paul.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Pymatuning Lab of Ecology discretionary fund at giveto.pitt.edu or to the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Rosemary Scully

Rosemary Scully helped put Pitt Physical Therapy on the map

Rosemary Scully, former chair and associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, passed away August 7, 2019, in Sun City West, Ariz., where she resided after her retirement. 

She joined the physical therapy faculty in 1972 and remained until 1992 when she retired. She served several in leadership roles including as chair and worked continuously to enhance physical therapy training at Pitt.

She successfully implemented innovative ways to incorporate clinical experts into entry-level and post-professional educational offerings by convincing the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration, Presbyterian University Hospital and the Center for Sports Medicine to create combined clinical/faculty positions. These models proved mutually beneficial by greatly enhancing the educational programs and strengthening clinical learning within the Department of Physical Therapy while providing teaching opportunities to practicing clinicians.

She also hired two orthopedic experts, Richard Erhard and Rick Bowling, both of whom put the Pitt on the map as one of the best orthopedic post-graduate programs in the country.

Scully grew up in Weirton, W.Va., where she developed her love of sports. At 14, Scully was one of the youngest women to try out for the women’s baseball league made famous in the movie “A League of Their Own.” She was not offered a baseball contract but did go on to earn a degree from West Virginia University in 1957 in physical education. She then completed the one-year physical therapy education program at Columbia University in New York City. 

She worked at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and later at Columbia Presbyterian, where she got a taste for education by becoming a supervisor for clinical education. She left New York briefly for a stint at Albany Medical College but was recruited back to NYC to work at Downstate Medical Center in a newly created physical therapy education program.

Scully met Pitt’s School of Health Professions’ founding dean, Anne Pascasio, at an American Physical Therapy Association district meeting, and was eventually convinced to return to her hometown region and join the physical therapy faculty at Pitt.

She was an expert in clinical learning. She studied the physical therapist-patient interaction in her doctoral work and consulted extensively as an educator. She co-authored a book entitled “Physical Therapy” and published several papers about physical therapy education.

She was a Lucy Blair Service Award winner and a Catherine Worthingham Fellow, recognizing outstanding achievement in practice, research or teaching. The award is the second highest given by the American Physical Therapy Association.

She loved all things sports but especially the Pittsburgh Panthers. She and her mother could often be found watching a baseball or football game on TV or playing with their amazing dog, Boomer. 

The Endowed Scully Visiting Scholar Program at Pitt was developed after Scully’s retirement to honor her mother and father. She felt that it was important to promote the excellence of the Department of Physical Therapy by inviting distinguished scholars to give a lecture and to meet with students and faculty for open forums and discussions. 

Donations may be made to Endowed Scully Visiting Scholar Program, University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Therapy, 6035 Forbes Tower, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

This is an edited version of a remembrance of Rosemary Scully on the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences website.

Miroslav Klain

Miroslav Klain worked on many projects during 40 years in Anesthesiology

Miroslav Klain, professor emeritus in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, died on May 18, 2019.

Klain was born in 1927 in Czechoslovakia. He trained as a physician at Charles University in Prague (MUDr., 1951) and earned a PhD as well. He began his medical career as a cardiac surgeon.

He first came to the U.S. in 1965 when he completed a one-year research fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. At the end of that year, he returned to Prague, but when the Soviets invaded, he and his wife, Eva, moved to Austria and soon found refuge in the U.S., moving to Texas with their two children and all the possessions they could carry. They returned to Cleveland, where Klain was hired to direct artificial heart development at the Cleveland Clinic.

He eventually shifted his research and clinical focus to anesthesiology. A lecture Klain gave in 1972 resulted in a job offer at the Pitt Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine/UPMC Presbyterian, beginning his 40-year relationship with the department.

Klain contributed to numerous projects over the years, most notably his early work with high-frequency ventilation and his contributions as a co-inventor on seven U.S. patents awarded between 1990 and 2002 related to portable cardiopulmonary bypass apparatuses and aortic balloon catheters.

He was a member of an interdisciplinary team of researchers known as the University of Pittsburgh Disaster Reanimatology Study Group (DRSG), which, in partnership with a team of Russian and Armenian physicians, conducted the first international interdisciplinary disaster evaluation research field survey study of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia. The Armenia study led to a series of post-disaster field studies by the DRSG in Costa Rica (1991), Turkey (1993), and Japan (1994).

These studies helped to establish the "Golden 24 Hours" of emergency response in disasters and inspired Norwegian anesthesiologist and humanitarian Knut Ole Sundnes to establish the Task Force of Quality Control of Disaster Management under the auspices of the Nordic Society of Disaster Medicine and World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine.

In 2006, Klain retired from Pitt and UPMC but continued to serve on the department’s Resident Education Committee for several years.

Klain met his wife, Eva, at a hospital in Czechoslovakia where he was working as a doctor and Eva as an X-ray technician. He was a polyglot, speaking English, German, Czech, Russian, Latin, and several other languages.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children and six grandchildren who live in Prague, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

— Edited and reprinted from the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine website.

Jere Gallagher

Jere Gallagher brought energy as associate dean of Education

Jere Gallagher, former associate dean in the School of Education known for her dedication and hard work in a sometimes-unheralded job, died Aug. 20, 2019, at 70.

John Jakicic, current chair of the school department where Gallagher was a faculty member — Health and Physical Activity — was a graduate student in the early 1990s and remembered Gallagher as a professor. “Talk about high energy!” he said. “Sure, there was a lecture, but she tried to get students actively engaged in their learning process, with hands-on activity, far before that became the way (of education generally).”

Jakicic experienced her administrative side as well, when he joined the faculty in 2002: “She was constantly advocating for students, student involvement, student experiences, both in and outside the classroom,” he said. “She always tried to be very fair and equitable to her students; when students had special circumstances, she would always find a solution to help students to thrive.” In administrative meetings, he recalled, “She was always the one who brought up, ‘Yeah, but what about the students?’ ”

Gallagher created the department’s Kinder Kinetics Program for kids ages 3-12 and ran it for a quarter century. It was designed to promote not just more physical activity but the right kind of healthy movement, especially among underserved children and those with physical and cognitive/emotional disabilities. After Gallagher’s retirement, the program was renamed Pitt’s Kids: Honoring the Vision of Dr. Jere Gallagher.

Alan Lesgold, former Renée and Richard Goldman dean (2000-16) of the School of Education, recalled her ability to adapt to changing academic trends. When child development was moved from the school’s Health and Physical Activities Department, for instance, Gallagher “worked extremely hard to assure that every one of her doctoral students was able to continue and complete the doctoral degree. I also never heard her complain that her own area of interest had been pushed aside.”

He also remembered her taking on fresh duties unasked: “She dramatically improved the quality of the alumni magazine … and turned it into the kind of alumni magazine that schools do when they're doing it right.”

He fondly remembered “how responsible and helpful of a person she really was. If there was a problem in the dean’s area, she was the one who kept our spirits up.”

In eulogizing Gallagher last month, Lesgold said: “She was a positive, uplifting spirit, and she cared deeply about the people she encountered and the University of which she was a beloved part.”

He noted that, as the child of Army officers, Gallagher moved often because of her parents’ careers and later chose to honor them by establishing an endowment in Pitt’s Office of Veteran Services.

“Career coaches counsel their clients not to become too useful, lest one get stuck in roles one is ready to outgrow,” he concluded. “Jere was far too altruistic to follow that principle; she was quite indispensable and helpful, even though there were seldom rewards for her efforts.”

Noted Jakicic: “In this day and age, where faculty in many universities jump from place to place, I think she found her place many years ago.” She felt a deep sense of loyalty, he said, “and tried to make this place a better place.”

Gallagher earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health and physical education from East Carolina University and a Ph.D. in motor development from Louisiana State University. She is survived by her husband of more than 30 years, H. Yale Gutnick; his children, Laura and Todd; and her sister, Salli Gallagher; as well as nieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the University of Pittsburgh Office of Veteran’s Services or the Department of Health and Physical Activity.

— Marty Levine

Audrey Champagne was a pioneer at LRDC

Audrey B. Champagne, a pioneer who studied science and mathematics learning at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), died Aug. 14, 2019, at 84.

Her former colleague Richard Goldman, who met Champagne when she joined the School of Education as a lecturer in 1968, said, “Audrey is the smartest person I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot of smart people.

“She really respected teachers and practitioners,” he recalled. “She respected what teachers did and saw teachers as the catalysts for improving science education, not researchers and professors.”

Alan Lesgold, LRDC senior scientist and former Renée and Richard Goldman dean (2000-16) of the School of Education, remembered Champagne as “energetic and imaginative, and just plain kind.

“In the early years of the Learning Research and Development Center, it was really doing something new” in studying the psychology of learning inside the classroom. “Schools of education were very much in the ivory tower at that moment. … Research journals weren’t even interested in publishing research that took place in classrooms.”

Champagne was an innovator in bringing research out of this cloister: “She was a major contributor to … this new enterprise,” he said. “She helped to build the good strengths that the school and the LRDC have today.”

Two years after joining Pitt, Champagne became a research associate at the LRDC and earned her Ph.D. in education at Pitt in December 1970. She became a research assistant professor at the school in 1971, and two years later was named co-director of the Individualized Science Project. The next year, she was promoted to research associate professor.

At LRDC, she led the way in developing instructional software for physics and elementary mathematics. She was well known for collaborating across disciplines and wrote widely on such topics as expert and novice performance in problem solving, knowledge about physical properties, problem solving in science teaching and reasoning about physical concepts. 

She served on the editorial boards of the journals Science Education and Studies in Science, and for the yearbook of the National Science Teachers' Association. She was also a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Educational Research Association, and Kappa Omega Phi.

From July 1984 to June 1986, she took a leave of absence to direct the Project for Science and Technology Education Planning at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C., departing Pitt in 1987 to become AAAS’s associate director for education. Later, she joined the faculty at State University of New York–Albany, with joint appointments in educational theory and practice and in chemistry, from which she retired an emerita professor.

She served on several prestigious committees, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which created science frameworks and performance standards, and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), researching science education. NARST awarded her its Distinguished Contributions to Science Education Award. In 2016, she and her co-authors won the William Elgin Wickenden Award from the American Society for Engineering Education.

Goldman recalled the years in which their families were friends, including their young children. When his kids were in preschool, Goldman said, Champagne would lead family hikes in the woods. “She would make science lessons for hours, just on a short little hike, on flora and fauna and mushrooms and all kinds of things lay people would never see.”

— Marty Levine

 

Frederick W. Crock

Crock was ‘consummate cardiologist and an outstanding educator’

Frederick W. Crock, an echocardiologist teaching in the School of Medicine who died Aug. 16, 2019, is recalled by his supervisory colleague Jenifer E. Lee as “a consummate cardiologist and an outstanding educator.”

Lee, medicine faculty member and director of medical student education in the Division of Cardiology, remembered Crock as “Superman — that’s all I have to say. The bottom line is, Fred was perfect.”

Crock was one of the instructors of second-year courses for School of Medicine students focused on individual organs for 15 years. Students at all levels “really adored him,” Lee said. “He had a broad fund of knowledge,” and could communicate very complicated information in a very clear manner, she remembered.

Lee quoted a 2018 course evaluation for Crock that notes his “virtuosic mastery of his field and an infectious enthusiasm for both teaching and the subject matter,” calling him “an amazing professor.”

Crock won many teaching awards here. However, Lee said, “You would never know because Fred never talked about those things.” Cardiology trainees voted Crock outstanding teacher in 2005, 2010, and 2018, while medical students chose him for the same honor in 2010 and 2011 and medical residents in 2012. The school’s Alpha Omega Alpha Society awarded Crock its Charles Watson Teaching Award this year.

He also was part of a structural heart disease research team that Lee termed instrumental in introducing percutaneous catheter-based treatments for valvular heart disease at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. As a substitute for traditional open-heart surgery, “that is really in the vanguard to what we are doing nowadays,” she said.

The pair worked together as non-invasive imaging cardiologists on staff at UPMC, and she remembered him being last in the office, helping to close up. “He was one of those guys who really loved what he did. … He was the kindest, most joyful person to work with.” Crock also volunteered as a lead cardiologist in the Birmingham Free Clinic on the South Side, which serves those without medical insurance, helping the organization to acquire specialty diagnostic equipment.

Crock was a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Society of Echocardiography). He was born Feb. 7, 1952, in Greensburg and graduated from Indiana Area Senior High School in 1970 as president of his senior class. He received his bachelor of science degree from Pitt in 1974 and his MD from Temple University in 1978.

He trained in internal medicine at Mercy Hospital and was chosen as a chief resident. He then completed a cardiovascular fellowship under Pitt’s James Shaver before joining the teaching faculty at Mercy in 1984, when he also was appointed assistant clinical professor of medicine at Pitt. In 2004, he joined UPMC's Cardiovascular Institute and was promoted to assistant professor.

On May 14, 1983, he married Kathleen Nagy. He is survived by her as well as children Tyler, Kirsten and Marco, and siblings Mary Ann Crock, Kathleen Harrison (Mark) and Diane Daskivich (Bruce), as well as many in-laws, nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations are suggested to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the Birmingham Free Clinic (University of Pittsburgh, Institutional Advancement, Records Management, Attn: Tina Beckett, 128 N. Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260), with donations allocated to the Birmingham Free Clinic in memory of Dr. Frederick William Crock, MD, FACC, FASE.

— Marty Levine

Cohen remembered for his love of teaching math and his tennis prowess

Henry B. Cohen, a Department of Mathematics faculty member whose interests ranged from teaching theory to inspiring young children to value math, died July 29, 2019.

A graduate of Columbia University, Cohen was a Pitt professor for 40 years. As a researcher, he was “a pure analyst working in infinite dimensional spaces,” recalled his departmental colleague Juan Manfredi in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. But Cohen also was noted for taking his love of mathematics to middle-school and elementary children as Professor Puzzle.

“He always wanted to teach children the value of mathematics and the value of working quantitatively,” Manfredi said. “It was amazing he could go from one to the other” — from instruction for grade-schoolers to his favorite class, Pitt math majors’ introductory theoretical course.

Cohen also founded the College in High School program at Pitt, which for more than 35 years has been offering Pitt credits to aspiring high school students to aid in their college preparation.

When Manfredi joined the department in 1989, Cohen was the chair for instruction, assigning courses. “He was a very good associate chair,” Manfredi said. “He enjoyed teaching and I remember at the very beginning when I was teaching, we worked together, and he took my hand and told me what to do. He was unusually kind (to a beginning professor),” he added.

Cohen, who retired as an emeritus faculty member, was also known for his hard-to-beat tennis serve. He started a faculty tennis group in the 1980s that continues today. Manfredi was a member of the group for his first decade at Pitt.

“He was a tall guy,” Manfredi remembers. “He really capitalized on his strength. He was very competitive and I remember for me it was very important to break his serve.”

Stuart Hastings, emeritus faculty member in the department (and still a member of Cohen’s tennis group), arrived as chair of the department in 1987 from outside of Pitt, when Cohen was already assistant chair. They worked together on department administration for the next eight years.

“He showed me the ropes,” Hastings said. Each term, Cohen would design the schedule of teaching assignments for the department, and Hastings knew he could depend on Cohen’s efficiency. “I got to sit and look out my windows while he did all the work,” Hastings joked.

He also recalled Cohen as a popular teacher with a fine sense of humor. “He always had wry remarks for me — he kept the atmosphere light in the department.”

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Reva, as well as children Jennie Cohen, Abby (Jonathan) Maeir, Stuart B. Polonsky, Jeffrey (Inna) Cohen, and Andrew (Claire) Cohen; grandchildren Coby and Noa, as well as siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews.

— Marty Levine

‘Dean Jeanne’ kept arts and sciences running as assistant to dean

Jeanne Martin, known for her ability to deal effectively with all 31 Pitt arts and sciences departments as top assistant to several deans, died on July 29, 2019, just a few months before her 100th birthday.

In a note to Martin written by then-Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Dean Jerome Rosenberg during his tenure (1970-1986), he told her: “When people in other divisions speak wistfully of the smoothness with which things run in 1001 (Cathedral of Learning), they are paying tribute to you. I don’t need their judgment, however, because I know full well how valuable a person you are. I can’t imagine anybody who would have your flair for organizing a very complex office operation, solving the most delicate interpersonal problems among a large staff, anticipating and solving all problems affecting me personally and professionally, and maintaining a gentle disposition through all of this.”

“She was a wonderful colleague,” Rosenberg said earlier this month. “She always collected background information for issues I had to deal with. In fact, she often resolved issues before I had to deal with them. All of our constituencies trusted her. She was a pleasant colleague whom everyone liked.”

Martin attended Pitt as a business administration major, with additional studies at Duff’s Business College and the Grace Martin’s School of Business. Apart from one year working in the Department of Speech and Theatre Arts, Martin’s 26 years at Pitt (1962-1988) were spent in the office of the dean in what would become the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She started as secretary and retired in the late 1980s as assistant to the dean.

Peter F.M. Koehler, professor emeritus in physics and astronomy and Rosenberg’s successor as dean, took office in 1986 and found Martin poised to retire. “But I asked her to help me get started, and she graciously agreed to do that,” Koehler says. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made, because she knew that place inside and out.”

Martin assisted Koehler for an additional two years, giving him “a careful briefing” prior to his initial meeting with each school department, he recalls: “She was very pleasant, always polite. She was certainly the senior staff member and had tremendous connection with administrative assistants in the various departments.

“She was the consummate professional,” he adds.

W. Richard Howe, retired associate dean for administration and planning, and Linda Huchber, data analyst in the Dietrich School’s dean’s office, compiled a remembrance that notes: “Many of the FAS department chairs and administrative staff affectionately referred to Jeanne as ‘Dean Jeanne.’ She was recognized as the door keeper for the dean and knew when to open it and when to keep it closed. When ‘Dean Jeanne’ said that she would take care of a problem, the departmental chairs and staff had full confidence that they had been heard and that their concerns would be quickly and effectively addressed.”

The memorial letter adds: “Among her many formal and assumed responsibilities was her intense devotion to looking after the many FAS staff members. She felt a personal connection to all who worked within the extended Arts & Sciences umbrella. She was always ready to provide a departmental chair with just the right candidates to interview for jobs within her broad sphere of influence. She was a one-person human resources coordinator who evaluated individual performances and identified those staff members who were ready for promotions to more demanding and rewarding positions.”

Nancy Kasper, department coordinator manager in the social science division of the Dietrich School, remembers helping to organize a retirement dinner for Martin in the William Pitt Union ballroom with nearly 300 in attendance, “which was very hard keeping secret from her since everyone that ever came into the dean’s office always sat and spoke to Jeanne before their meeting with the dean…. Everyone had some sort of story they wanted to tell about their interactions with Jeanne, or they just wanted to express their gratitude for her help throughout the many years.

“About halfway through the reception, the dean made an announcement that, on behalf of everyone present and those that couldn’t attend, he wanted to thank Mrs. Martin — he very rarely called her by her first name — for all of her help over the past few years and he presented her with an envelope which contained a collective contribution so that she could take that trip to Alaska she’d been talking about. …  Jeanne thanked everyone, said she’d miss us, and wouldn’t have traded her time at the University for anything — but now she was going to take that trip.”

In retirement, Martin did indeed travel extensively, but also continued to serve the school through its temporary employment pool. As Howe noted, “Jeanne was the glue that held the Arts and Sciences together. She was an organizer extraordinaire, a marvelous communicator, possessor of an infectious sense of humor and good will and a beloved friend to all who came in contact with this wonderful lady.”

— Marty Levine

Daniel Gallagher was dedicated to custodial supervisor job

Daniel H. “Sluggo” Gallagher, a custodial supervisor in Facilities Management, died July 14, 2019.

Randy Schmotzer, a former custodial supervisor and now manager of special events in athletics, recalls Gallagher starting at Pitt in the fall of 2008: “He was dedicated, he loved his job, and he always gave 110 percent. He was fair and he wouldn’t ask you to do anything he wouldn’t do — but when he asked you to do it, he expected you to do it right. If you didn’t know how to do it, he would train you.”

Schmotzer says his friend “was one of those guys, he would literally give you the shirt off of his back. He was just a good guy.”

Gallagher was immensely proud of his daughter Marlie, Schmotzer recalls: “She was the love of his life. Every day that’s all he talked about.”

Besides Marlie, he is survived by his brothers William J. (the late Nancy) and Michael T. (Chris); nieces and nephews Kerri, Michael, John, Ryan, Maeve, Keegan and Brenna; and many cousins.

Memorial contributions are suggested to TheNancesPitch2Park@gmail.com.

— Marty Levine

Stezoski was essential to success of Safar Center research

Stanley William “Bill” Stezoski — a rare staff member named research assistant professor in recognition of his vital work in the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research — died on July 8, 2019 at 84.

Stezoski arrived at Pitt in 1955 and became the right-hand laboratory aide to Peter Safar, the pioneering resuscitation medicine professor in the School of Medicine. Patrick M. Kochanek, now Safar Center director, saw Stezoski at work beginning with Kochanek’s arrival at Pitt in 1986.

“He was Peter Safar’s key technician,” Kochanek recalls. “He was just an amazingly great technical resource. Papers he’s been on have been cited a thousand times.”

Stezoski was essential to the success of Safar’s early research that simulated intensive care unit conditions, including 24/7 care, in animals, leading to the creation of today’s ICUs.

“Bill was critical for overseeing the research team of doctors,” Kochanek says — work that led next to a 15-year clinical brain resuscitation trial involving 20 centers worldwide. “It was the laboratory research that set the stage for those studies.”

Stezoski was in charge of assisting Safar’s trainees at every level, from medical generalists and specialists to graduate and undergraduate students: “He was the go-to guy in the labs. He was savvy at finding out what your role should be … and inviting young people so they felt like they belonged. Bill was there in essence to hold their hands and guide them through the details.

There were many visitors and funding agencies touring Safar’s labs, including top officials of the Department of Defense, looking for demonstrations of success, Kochanek says. Faced with such pressure, other research teams might have chosen a routine experiment as a demonstration, but not Stezoski and Safar: “Bill and Peter, they never took that approach. When they had guests coming, they went for the most exciting possible study. It was amazing how Bill Stezoski led those studies and they never seemed to fail. That level of capability was instrumental to the success of Peter Safar. It was a reflection of Bill’s confidence and capability in laboratory research.”

Stezoski retired in the mid-2000s. “He was a University of Pittsburgh guy through and through and always revered Pitt,” Kochanek says.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Cheryl; children Brad (Stacey), Jason (Sharon) and Bret; grandchildren Gabriel, Quinn, Amelia, Chance, and Audrey; siblings Vern and Theresa; and many nieces and nephews.

— Marty Levine

William Brown

Brown left legacy in law school classes and University Senate

William J.W. Brown, an emeritus School of Law professor (1968-2000) who excelled at making a potentially dry subject — federal taxation — attractive to his students, died June 12, 2019, at 81.

“He was really appreciated by the students as someone who was both great in the classroom and really cared about them,” recalled his law colleague Larry Frolik, a recently retired emeritus professor who taught federal income tax law while Brown focused on federal taxation as it applies to corporations, estates and gifts.He counselled them individually and they knew he wanted them to succeed — both in the classroom and afterwards.

“Bill was a first-rate teacher,” Frolik said. “He could be lighthearted; he could make jokes, both about the topic and himself … But he really cared about the subject” — especially as it influenced the way in which society was organized and how people behaved. “He believed in its importance, particularly for lawyers.”

His twin sides emerged when the law school instituted a fall semester that started before Labor Day, Frolik remembered, and Brown began teaching the first week’s classes in a sport coat, tie and Bermuda shorts. “I won’t say it was a protest, but it was an acknowledgment that we were still in summer. That was very Bill,” Frolik said: sticking to standards while adding his own style.

Seniors in the School of Law thrice voted Brown their annual Excellence in Teaching Award (1994, 1999 and 2008); Brown also was honored with the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award (1991).

Born June 7, 1938 on Staten Island, N.Y., Brown earned his B.A. from Seton Hall University in 1960 and an LL.B. from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America in 1963, adding an LL.M. from Yale’s law school in 1968. He joined the New York law firm of Beekman and Bogue (1963-65), then began his teaching career at the Columbus School (1965-67) before joining Pitt the following year. Among his publications were a book on the federal taxation of corporations and one on tax strategies for separation and divorce.

He was twice elected University Senate president and chaired the Affirmative Action Committee and the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee. He also served on the University Press Board. “Bill had a strong belief that the faculty should have impact on how the University is run,” Frolik said, noting that Brown also was elected by his law school colleagues to the school’s steering committee.

Upon his retirement, Brown spent six years as director of the graduate tax program at Duquesne University's school of business and continued to teach at Pitt, Duquesne and Carlow until age 78.

Other public remembrances have noted his enthusiasm for many pursuits, including construction of his second home in Rector, PA. “Bill had a very full life,” Frolik marveled. “Bill was a very enthusiastic person when he got involved in something. He was very artistic and had a good eye for art and architecture. I was amazed at the kinds of projects he would take on.” Brown also wrote and published a memoir about his Catholicism, Canticle of Returning, in 2017.

He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Eliza Smith Brown, and children Will, Brendan and Regina.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services of Pittsburgh.

Baranger worked with all deans as vice provost for graduate studies

Elizabeth Baranger, credited with helping to institute high-quality graduate programs throughout Pitt as vice provost for graduate studies, died May 30, 2019.

Former Provost James Maher was her colleague in the Department of Physics and Astronomy beginning in 1970, before Baranger joined him in the provost’s office. “She was a very well-known and well-respected nuclear physicist before she became an administrator,” he notes.

As vice provost, Baranger worked closely with the deans of all Pitt schools, Maher recalls, “to make their graduate programs as good as we could make them. The high quality of graduate programs throughout the University is certainly a wonderful legacy.”

He also describes her as “a very generous colleague, never really looking for credit for herself, even though she deserved lots of it.”

Baranger earned her B.A. in mathematics from Swarthmore College in 1949 and her Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 1955, joining Pitt that year as an instructor after two years as a research associate at California Institute of Technology. Apart from a brief stint at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1969-1973), she spent all her career here. She became dean of graduate studies for the arts and sciences upon her return, then moved to the vice provost position in 1989. She retired in July 2004.

During her long Pitt career, Baranger was a liaison to the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns, “one of several of her activities aimed at improving the status of women at Pitt,” a University Times article noted upon her retirement. She was only the second woman physics faculty member when she joined the University and the first female member of the provost’s senior staff.

She also pushed graduate programs into the Internet era, encouraging online applications, theses and dissertations and the modernization of Pitt’s graduate studies website.

As she retired, Baranger was honored with the Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Organization Elizabeth Baranger Teaching Awards for graduate student teachers, given annually to a pair of recipients in each of the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities.

 

Karen Cameron Scanlon remembered at UPJ

Karen Cameron Scanlon, a former education professor at Pitt–Johnstown, passed away May 21, 2019.

Scanlon was first hired in 1996 at Pitt-Johnstown as an assistant professor in Elementary Education and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2000. She retired with emeritus status on Dec. 31, 2008.

“Karen Scanlon … was always friendly, patient and supportive to the students while encouraging them to work hard to achieve their goals,” said Donna Kowalczyk, Education Division faculty member who worked with Scanlon for more than 10 years. “Her positive attitude, commitment to the Education Division, and her genuine enjoyment of teaching will always be remembered.”

Scanlon was named winner of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators’ Teacher Educator of the Year Award in 1999.

“Dr. Scanlon genuinely cared about her students, not just their intellectual and professional growth, but also their emotional well-being. Preparing our teacher candidates to become effective in the classroom was very important to her,” said Nina R. Girard, associate professor of Mathematics Education. “Likewise, Karen cared about her colleagues. She always made time to talk, no matter how busy she was at the moment. She was an exceptional administrator as Education Division chair for several years.”

Pitt–Johnstown President Jem Spectar said, “Dr. Scanlon was a consummate teacher, a warm, thoughtful and caring person whose life’s work transformed countless people and made our world a better place.”

Donations may be made in memoriam to Catholic Charities of Fredericksburg, 1101 Stafford Avenue, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.

— From the Pitt–Johnstown website

Sussna developed MBA program that grew into Katz School

Edward Sussna, who developed Pitt’s MBA program — which evolved into the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business — died April 24, 2019 at 92.

“In a sense that’s his monument,” said Jacob Birnberg, Robert W. Murphy Jr. professor of management control systems emeritus at the Katz School, whom Sussna hired in 1963. “He was very critical to the development of both the MBA and the doctoral program.”

Sussna joined the Katz faculty in 1957 and was charged by then-chancellor Edward H. Litchfield in 1960 with professionalizing business education at Pitt, Birnberg recalled.

“Ed was one of the reasons I came” to Pitt, said Birnberg, who credited Sussna as a mentor. Sussna was an economist, and “it was his view that what we were teaching was decision-making,” Birnberg says: How people decide what kinds of economic actions to take when there is ambiguity and risk.

The pair team-taught a seminar on integrated decision-making, a forerunner of experimental or behavioral economics.

The MBA became very attractive to engineers who wished to move into management, Birnberg explained, and to other professionals wanting to expand their skills and further their careers.

“They had real problems to talk about, which he liked,” he said of Sussna, who in turn could speak their language about business issues. “He cared about students and talked about things they really needed to know. He enjoyed teaching and the students enjoyed him.”

Sussna’s interest in such executive education programs, and his love of travel, translated into a long career of bringing Pitt’s business education abroad. In addition to serving as director of the Center for Executive Education at the Katz School, Sussna was academic director of the Katz program in Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China, and inaugural professor of the Master of Business Administration program at the Bratislava (Slovakia) School of Economics.

He also was a visiting Fulbright professor at the University of Tehran, and visiting professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, the Ecole Superieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales in Paris and at universities in Hong Kong and Macau, as well as visiting scholar at the International Institute of Management in Berlin.

Sussna served with the Merchant Marine, 1944-1947, and with the Army, 1954-1956, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He retired from Pitt in 1998.

Sussna’s colleague Jo Olson described him as “a renaissance man, not just interested in economics but in politics and international affairs.”

Indeed, said Birnberg, Sussna had developed an interest in opera as a student at the Bronx High School of Science, when one of his teachers procured affordable tickets to the Metropolitan Opera, and Sussna passed on his love of other cultural events — theater and symphony — to his colleagues.

“He wasn’t a workaholic,” Birnberg said. “He was just a well-rounded person who was a pleasure to know and wound up introducing a lot of people to things that made their lives better.”

Sussna is survived by children Audrey Sussna and Ellen Heyman and grandchildren Andrea and Ben Heyman. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

GSPIA’s first female professor Altenburger focused on ethics

Christine Altenburger, the first female professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, died on April 26, 2019 at 91.

Kevin Kearns — once Altenburger’s student and later her colleague — recalls her focus on ethics and best practices in municipal governments, helping to refine their structure and management. “She was absolutely outstanding,” both as a classroom teacher and working with local governments on the ground.

“She was very, very organized, very focused on practical skills that could be applied to government,” he said. “There were a whole generation of students who benefited from her engagement, including most of the municipal managers in the region. She was instrumental in writing various state municipal codes and procedures as well.”

Altenburger joined the GSPIA faculty in 1962 and retired as professor emerita in 1989. She was associate dean when Kearns arrived at the school in 1978 and held a variety of posts there throughout her career, including co-leading the Institute for Local Government, which provided technical assistance to local municipalities.

She also provided a tremendous amount of uncompensated consultation in the community, he said: “She was constructive, she was helpful, she was focused on the mission, and she was a very important force in my life and the lives of many others. She was really unselfish. It was her life and she gave it her all.”

That same attitude was evident in her classroom, Kearns said: “No class was routine for her … and I’ve tried to follow that example myself. She gave me some of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard from anyone: ‘The day you’re no longer nervous when you walk into the classroom is the day you should retire.’ ”

Living most of her life in Penn Hills (where she later was elected to a term on its municipal council), Altenburger served in the Women’s Army Corps after earning her undergraduate degree from Penn State. She worked in military intelligence and was stationed in Germany and at the Pentagon.

Altenburger is survived by her niece Gail, nephew Denis and great-niece Carley .

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Christine Altenburger Endowment, University of Pittsburgh, 128 N. Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260, or via giveto.pitt.edu.