Joan Hoffman served as the welcoming face for three chancellors
Joan C. Hoffman, for 30 years the face and voice of the chancellor’s office under Chancellors Wesley Posvar, J. Dennis O’Connor and Mark Nordenberg, died May 7, 2022 at 90.
“Joan Hoffman was a one-of-a-kind wonderful person,” Nordenberg recalled. “She treated everyone with kindness and welcomed visitors to the chancellor’s office with a warm human touch. In fact, she was so nice that many of the people who came to see me probably would have preferred to stay in the reception area talking to Joan. She was the first point of contact for many University guests, and she left them all with an extraordinarily positive impression of Pitt.”
Referencing a quote often attributed to Maya Angelou — “People will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” — he added: “Joan Hoffman made everyone feel good about themselves and about the University of Pittsburgh.”
Reynolds Clark, Nordenberg’s chief of staff and vice chancellor for community initiatives, remembered how “she finally decided to take early retirement — at age 80.” One of her other duties was screening the chancellor’s mail, creating a log and drawing the chancellor’s attention to things that needed more immediate response.
“Whether it was a high-ranking elected official, a member of the Board of Trustees or a student who was there,” Clark said, “she treated everybody in a positive and professional way. I think that is a real testament to her. She had a high standard of professionalism with everybody.”
And she loved her job, he added. He remembered running into her after her retirement, as she walked near her residence in Oakland just a few blocks from her old office. “Pitt was truly her professional home and, in her late years, her personal home.”
Hoffman was a graduate of St. Justin High School in Mt. Washington and a member of Pitt’s class of 1954, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology. She joined the chancellor’s office as an administrative assistant in 1981 and retired in 2012.
She is survived by children Kurt (Patti) Hoffman, Paul (Michelle) Hoffman, Gail (Richard) Kepple and Stacy Hoffman; grandchildren James and Robert Hoffman; and cousin Cathy (Terry) O'Brien.
Memorial gifts are suggested to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
— Marty Levine
Psychiatry’s Peter Fabrega ‘was always a student’
Psychiatry Professor Horacio “Peter” Fabrega Jr., whose interest in medical anthropology led him to author or co-author books on culture and psychiatric diagnosis, the evolution of sickness and healing, and disease and social behavior, died Feb. 21, 2022, at 88.
“He was always a student, and an intellectual one,” recalled his long-time colleague, Loren Roth, emeritus distinguished service professor of psychiatry. “He enjoyed analysis of our world, the events of the day and other people. He certainly was a commentator, and that was often with a cross-cultural bent,” thanks to his early upbringing in Panama before coming to the U.S. for boarding school at age 13.
In his office stacked with books on every wall, floor to ceiling, as Roth remembered it, Fabrega could be somewhat reserved. He might listen to a group discussion for many minutes and say nothing, or very little, “and it was very difficult to know what he was thinking. Then he would make an extremely incisive statement. He was a thoughtful listener. And when he talked, people listened.”
A group of forensic psychiatrists from Pitt (including Fabrega, although he was not a forensic psychiatrist) in 1985 spent three weeks touring the then-Soviet Union and China under Roth, and Roth remembers in particular their last moments in Asia: “This was during a time in China when the atmosphere was still, shall we say, restrictive, and our Chinese guides wanted to be perfect,” he said. “When the bus was finally leaving … Peter was uncomfortably late. The Chinese guide we had panicked. She knew that things would probably not be good for her if we missed our plane.”
It turned out that Fabrega was late merely because he could not tear himself away from the country: “He was out talking to people or he got stuck in something that he thought was artistically interesting,” Roth said.
Born Jan. 6, 1934, Fabrega got his initial degree from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his medical degree at Columbia University in 1960, interning at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City and spending his residency at Yale Grace New Haven Hospital. His interest in psychiatry stemmed from his stint with the U.S. Army medical service, where he served as an officer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
His academic career began in 1969 at Michigan State University, after which he joined the Pitt faculty in 1977. He also opened a private practice.
He is survived by his wife Joan, daughters Andrea and Michele; and three grandchildren.
Memorials gifts are suggested to the ALS Association, Western Pennsylvania chapter, 416 Lincoln Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15209.
— Marty Levine
Kruper developed dental school’s behavioral sciences department
Emeritus Professor Donald Curtis Kruper, first chair of the behavioral sciences department in the School of Dental Medicine, died on Feb. 21, 2022.
Kruper earned his Ph.D. in psychology from Pitt. At the dental school, he started and developed his department, retiring in 1991.
During his tenure, he was instrumental in establishing the Dental Fears Clinic Evaluation and Treatment Center, which offers dental care to people whose fear of dentistry might otherwise keep them away from seeking and receiving such care. The clinic encompasses faculty members from anesthesiology, behavioral sciences, pharmacology and physiology.
He also was crucial to the creation of the Behavioral Sciences Group (now Behavioral, Epidemiologic and Health Services Research Group) of the International Association for Dental Research.
Before joining the dental school, Kruper oversaw a primate research laboratory involved in brain studies, which was affiliated with Montefiore Hospital, across from Salk Hall.
He was born in 1929, grew up in Smithton, Pa., and attended high school in Connellsville before joining the Navy, where he served as a hospital corpsman from 1948 through 1952.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Winnie; daughter Martha (Straw); sons Thom (Melinda) and Curtis; stepchildren Craig (Becky) and Mark (Vera) Shafer; grandchildren William, Madeline, Timothy, Rusty, Riley, Mahala, and Clay; and nieces and nephews James, Jay, Judy, Sally, William, Maryellen, Dean, Reed and Todd.
Memorial gifts are suggested to the White Elephant, 601 N. La Canada, Green Valley, AZ 85614.
— Marty Levine
Gruener helped design and run Pitt’s family law clinic
Harry J. Gruener, a top family practice lawyer who was instrumental in designing and implementing Pitt’s family law clinic and teaching students the skills to represent its low-income clients, died March 11, 2022 at 77.
“He was a teacher through and through,” said David Herring, School of Law faculty member and founding director of the school’s clinical legal education program, which includes the family law clinic.
Gruener first joined the school as an adjunct faculty member, teaching its large family law course, which was required of students but not exactly their favorite subject, Herring recalled. “He got rave reviews from his students. Harry viewed it as a kind of performance, engaging them as part of a large class.”
When the family law clinic started, Gruener was hired full-time in 1990 for that work. Each semester he took eight to 10 students downtown to help prepare and represent clients in divorce proceedings — clients who could not otherwise afford lawyers.
Gruener, Herring said, taught “much more than the law — it was human relationships, how to interview somebody, how to deal with the judge’s questions. That’s what he offered the students.
“We were good friends and would often talk about his teaching and how he was preparing,” Herring said. “He just lived and breathed this stuff.”
Overall, Herring added, “Harry was just such a positive person. He was always upbeat and he had a high sense of adventure. He knew how to have fun,” from golfing — where he still kept coaching Herring toward a better game, he said — to his red Corvette, coaxing Herring off the street, if Gruener passed by, to lunch in another part of town. “He was just a joy,” Herring said.
Gruener was born and raised in West View and graduated from North Hills High School. He earned his B.A. and J.D. degrees from Pitt and began his career as a civil trial lawyer in state and federal courts, eventually concentrating on family law for more than two dozen years. He founded the law firm Goldberg, Gruener, Gentile, Horoho & Avalli and was a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, serving as president of the Pennsylvania Chapter in 2000 and 2001. He was a member and former chairman of both the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Section and Allegheny County Bar Association.
He was also a member of the advisory committee responsible for guiding the 2005 legislative amendments to the Pennsylvania divorce code.
At Pitt, Gruener was clinical associate professor of law and associate director of family law curriculum. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the graduating law school classes in 2005 and 2012 — a rare distinction — and in 2009 was awarded the School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award. He also earned the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2013.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Christine (Larson); children Gretchen Busquets (Miguel) and Rachel Kress (Paul); and grandchildren Marisa and Talia Busquets and Catie and Jay Kress.
Memorial gifts are suggested to Animal Friends, 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237.
Engineering’s Vallejo helped mentor many international students
Luis Vallejo, a 37-year professor of civil and environmental engineering known for bringing students to Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering from his native Colombia, mentoring students from all over the world and helping them gain a career, died March 18, 2022.
“He changed my life,” said Sebastian Lobo-Guerrero, who was a student at the end of his bachelor’s degree program at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá when Vallejo was invited to teach there. Vallejo chose Lobo-Guerrero to participate in a National Science Foundation grant back at Pitt.
“I had no clue about where Pittsburgh was in the world,” Lobo-Guerrero recalled. But two weeks later — after Vallejo convinced Lobo-Guerrero’s professors that he could finish his bachelor’s degree 2,500 miles away — Lobo-Guerrero was here: “He gave me all those chances and I ended up doing both my master’s and Ph.D. under him. We ended up publishing 18 to 20 papers together. He had adopted me to his family.”
Vallejo eventually helped Lobo-Guerrero join the engineering company where he has worked for the past 16 years, which led to the presidency of the city’s geotechnical engineering society.
“He really helped a lot of people from Colombia to find a way into Pitt,” Lobo-Guerrero said. “He influenced an entire generation of geotechnical engineers in Pittsburgh today. Everyone is always appreciative, not only for his technical content, but for the personal connection. That’s what made him so unique.”
Through the years, Lobo-Guerrero recalled, “He was always asking about every student that he had. He helped me a lot to recruit people for the company that I work for. It just shows the kind of person he was. … If anything I have to remember from his life, it was the service he was doing to others. We literally traveled the world when I was at Pitt — he was always encouraging students to get involved” with conferences and other scientific meetings.
“When you come to this country as an outsider,” he continued, “you are very happy about the opportunity you have … but you don’t always understand about the culture. Before diversity and inclusion was a thing, he was already a king of that,” helping students from Nigeria, Malaysia, Japan and elsewhere to acculturate.
Vallejo earned his civil engineering degrees from Washington State University (BS, 1982), Michigan State University (MS, 1984) and the University of Wisconsin (Ph.D., 1977). Joining the University faculty in 1983 as assistant professor, he retired as emeritus professor in 2018.
He was a nationally recognized expert in geotechnical engineering with expertise in slope stability and the application of fracture mechanics and fractal theory in soil mechanics. He published numerous journal papers, several books, 34 technical publications in book format and 123 refereed conference proceedings. He taught more than half a dozen different courses here, mentored 12 PhD and 30 master’s students, and was a member of the editorial board of the international journals “Engineering Geology” and “Geomechanics and Engineering” and associate editor of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ “Journal of Geotechnical and Geo-environmental Engineering.”
He received the Morada al Sur award from the State of Nariño, Colombia, for contributions to education and technology; the award for superior performance from the Office of Surface Mining, U.S. Department of the Interior; and the Lilly Endowment teaching fellowship for excellence in teaching.
He served on the University Senate at Pitt, the annual promotion and tenure review committee in the Swanson School and as undergraduate coordinator in his department
N. Catherine Bazán-Arias, another one of Vallejo’s students, called Vallejo one of “the gurus of geotechnical engineering during my years at Pitt,” who “taught me the importance of looking beyond what is visible to understand the dynamics behind soil-structure interaction (where) so many critical parameters lie hidden from sight.”
After finishing her undergraduate degree in structural engineering here in 1992, Bazán-Arias was convinced by Vallejo and a few of his colleagues to remain here for graduate school. She was from Mexico, and it was important that she and Vallejo shared a language and “cultural resonance,” she said: “Being a Latina in engineering was relatively unique in the United States and also in geotechnical engineering. His technical expertise and his willingness to share his knowledge … finally provided me the path to focus my structural background.”
He also helped her learn to deal with setbacks, such as a graduate test in which a machine malfunctioned. “I learned that day that panicking is not a really good option and a mentor who can coach a mentee through the experience is the best. To provide me the confidence and the calmness to address complexities in a highly complex field is what I remember most.”
Radisav Vidic, Vallejo’s department chair, recalled his colleague as someone “who cared about students a lot. He was very willing to go out of his way accommodating students.”
He was also, Vidic said, “a top notch expert. He made significant contributions to this profession … He was a real gentleman and a thoughtful person who considered the well-being of the department, and he was dedicated to our students to help them master the topics he was passionate about.”
— Marty Levine
Trucco had 30-year career as Magee pathologist
Retired pathology faculty member Giuliana Trucco, a 30-year Magee Women’s Hospital pathologist (1986-2015), died March 5, 2022 at 72.
Rohit Bhargava, now division chief at Magee, recalls their time as colleagues: “She was wonderful — one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, always calm and friendly. An excellent pathologist, a fine diagnostician, with error-free reports. She had a good eye.”
Whether in her practice as a surgical pathologist doing breast and gynecological pathology, particularly cytopathology, or instructing residents in pathology one-on-one, he said, “She was wonderful. Everyone loved her.”
Born in Torino, Italy, on Sept. 1, 1949, Trucco earned her M.D. from the University of Torino in 1976, and completed residency training in gynecology, with a clinical focus in infertility, at UPMC. In medical school, she met her husband of more than 45 years, Massimo Trucco. She completed her fellowship training at Magee.
She is survived by her husband and children Sara Trucco (Tatum Tarin), Matteo Trucco (Christine Trucco), Elisa Trucco (Nicole Fava); her mother Maria Lanzetti Scansetti; and her grandchildren Luca, Lorenzo and Lucia Tarin, Paige and Claire Trucco and Ayden and Greyson Fava-Trucco.
Memorial gifts are suggested to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Paradise’s research on tonsillectomies and ear tubes was groundbreaking
Jack L. Paradise, a professor emeritus of pediatrics and otolaryngology whose innovative, rigorous and lengthy studies have prevented decades of children from undergoing needless tonsillectomies and ear tube surgery, died on Dec. 20, 2021, at 96.
“He was such a large contributor to both the institution and the community, not only locally but nationally, with the kind of impact we would all dream of,” said John V. Williams, faculty member in pediatrics and microbiology & molecular genetics. “There are a lot of physicians who are great researchers. There are a lot of physicians who are great clinical doctors. There are not that many who are great at both. Jack was. He set a model for people.”
As Paradise’s department noted in its memorial, his studies “were marked by clarity, elegance of design and adherence to clinical epidemiological principles and shed evidence-based light on broad areas of primary health care for children that previously had been clouded by uncertainty and controversy and characterized by conflicting and often divergent practices.”
Paradise earned his MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and undertook his residency and fellowship training in Salt Lake City, Baltimore, and Rochester, Minn.
In the 1950s, before joining Pitt, he teamed with other physicians to start a coal miners’ clinic in a small industrial town in Ohio. The Bellaire Clinic gave miners and their families access to free, full health care funded by the mineworkers’ union. The clinic received a 1967 federal grant to become the first Neighborhood Health Center in the U.S. outside an urban setting.
By 1966, Paradise was volunteering as a pediatrician at Pitt’s Cleft Palate Center, where he noted the association of cleft palates with ear infections and hearing loss, prompting early detection and treatment of the condition.
His research was groundbreaking even as a fellow, when he was able to dislodge the then-prevailing idea of the origins of colic in infants — that it was caused by mothers’ emotional state. Overall, his research focused on the management of otitis media with effusion — ear infections involving fluid build-up — and tonsil and adenoid disorders.
In 1970, he joined the Pitt faculty and became director of the Children’s Hospital outpatient department. There he began a series of pioneering decades-long studies — the first examining a question he first encountered as a practicing physician: Did severe throat infections lead to future illness and necessitate tonsillectomies or adenoidectomies? Finding no need for such widespread operations, Paradise’s findings led to an almost 80 percent reduction in pediatric tonsillectomies in the U.S. by the end of his study period.
Paradise then undertook another large study on the question of whether tympanostomy-tube placement was necessary in kids with persistent ear infections involving fluid accumulation. These ear tubes had been used with the intention of preventing impairments in speech, cognitive and psychosocial development, but no significant differences between ear-tube recipients and those who went without them were found, prompting pediatric physician associations to recommend alternative interventions.
From 1971 to 1991, Paradise was division chief for Ambulatory Pediatrics and medical director for the Ambulatory Care Center at Children’s Hospital, developing programs for teaching, clinical service and research in general pediatrics. He worked to organize community pediatricians into researchers, and developed interdisciplinary research teams that included ear, nose and throat specialists and those focused on infectious diseases, behavior, communication disorders, reading, psychology, epidemiology, biostatistics and audiology.
Even past his retirement, which came in 2006, Paradise was still active in three studies looking at the use of antibiotics in children with acute ear infections, the length of therapy for that condition, and the use of tympanostomy tubes when that condition recurs. All were published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), most recently in May 2021.
“We submitted a paper yesterday that he helped us analyze,” marveled Alejandro Hoberman, who knew and worked with Paradise since Hoberman’s arrival at Pitt in 1989. Hoberman now serves as the Jack L. Paradise Distinguished Service Professor of Pediatrics, and Clinical and Translational Science, a chair created in 2000 by Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Paradise was known as the oldest living NEJM contributor, but Hoberman corrects that notion: “According to the editor, he wasn’t the oldest, but he was the best.
“He was the main reason I came to Pittsburgh, to work with him,” Hoberman recalled. “He was my mentor and guided me in every research step I took in my life. He was known for his elegant and sophisticated study designs and always trying to answer the right clinical questions. At every step of the way, he didn’t take shortcuts — the best interest of research participants was paramount to him.
“He was undeniably the best mentor for research assistants and fellows,” Hoberman continued. “I tried to model everything I learned from him. In my mind, his ideas and his writing should be an example for clinical researchers to follow.”
Hoberman described Paradise as soft-spoken and caring, dedicated to helping the most underserved children at Children’s Hospital. Paradise would sit with parents of children in his research studies and urge them to decide on their participation based on what is best for their own children. “I’ve known him for 32 years. I believe doing the right thing is what I learned from him.”
Paradise received the 1994 Research Award of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association; was elected in 1995 as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and in 1998 was the first recipient of the Jack Paradise Investigators Award from the Pittsburgh Pediatric Society. He also received the Robert Ruben Research Award of the Society for Ear, Nose, and Throat Advances in Children in 1999, and that same year was named Pennsylvania Pediatrician of the Year by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
When John Williams was an intern at Children’s Hospital (1994-1995), he was able to watch Paradise in action as a physician every week.
“He was a model of patience and just a marvelous clinical teacher,” Williams recalled. “He taught me how to do ear examinations and remove ear wax, which sounds simple but is actually difficult to do without tormenting the child.”
He watched Paradise instruct the child’s parent to have the child lie down for the procedure. Then Paradise pulled out a custom otoscope head he had invented — still called the Paradise — which combined a magnifying glass and a small loop for wax removal. “He made it look effortless and fast with minimal discomfort for the child,” Williams said. “And I thought, that’s the gold. That’s my standard.
“A lot of our current trainees are benefiting from his impact and they don’t even know it,” Williams concluded. “We should remember our history — he is a big part of our history here in Pittsburgh and in pediatrics.”
— Marty Levine
Guggenheimer mentored hundreds in 55 years at dental school
James Guggenheimer, a 55-year professor in the School of Dental Medicine who conducted pioneering research in oral medicine and oral pathology, died Jan. 27, 2022, at 85 — having retired just the month before.
“He was one of the trailblazers who tried in the early sixties and seventies to make the connection between oral health and systemic health in diabetes and other medical issues,” such as oral cancer and smoking, said Bernard J. Costello, the school’s dean.
Guggenheimer joined the school in 1966, spending his years in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences. “He was obviously committed to Pitt and was your consummate clinical scholar,” said Costello. “He was your eminent scholar who worked very well with people.
“He was always asking questions and questioning what we thought was the case,” Costello added, including an early examination of the necessity of opioid pain medication. He recalled Guggenheimer as “a very invested teacher in teaching high-level clinical thinking. … He would engage with students in a way that made them feel he wanted to understand them.”
Guggenheimer was a mentor to “hundreds of students if not thousands” through the years, Costello estimated, and treated many patients in school clinics through the decades.
He also often chaired the school’s promotion and tenure committee. “He was very particular with policy and procedures,” Costello said, and contributed much to the University in his “gentlemanly, fair, honest way.”
Guggenheimer was honored with a plaque at the school upon his retirement, which was “a bit unusual,” Costello noted. “The faculty members felt very strongly” about recognizing his service to the department. “It’s one way for people to remember his impact and all the things he brought to our institution.”
He received the University’s Dental Educator of the Year award and his school’s Award of Appreciation.
Born in 1936, just after his parents fled Nazi Germany, Guggenheimer was raised in the Bronx and earned his undergraduate biology degree from the City College of New York and doctorate in dental surgery from Columbia, with postgraduate studies that included a fellowship in oral medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and Philadelphia General Hospital.
He is survived by his wife, Constance, sons Paul, Peter and Gregor, grandchildren Allison and Lucas, nephew Sean Brennan and sister-in-law Gail Brennan.
Memorial donations are suggested to a new fund in Guggenheimer’s honor at the Eye & Ear Foundation, which will offer dental care to head and neck cancer patients, at eyeandear.org, or 203 Lothrop St., Suite 251 EEI, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
— Marty Levine
Caginalp helped develop math department’s probability course
Gunduz Caginalp, a 38-year mathematics faculty member, died Dec. 7, 2021.
“He was very serious about his teaching,” noted Jon Rubin, Caginalp’s department chair. “He viewed it with high importance. His emphasis was making sure we maintained high standards and that students completing our courses were well trained in mathematics.”
Caginalp taught calculus, courses for math majors and graduate courses across the spectrum. He was heavily involved in developing the department’s probability course.
As a researcher, he first studied applied mathematics relating to physics and materials science. His most influential research, according to Rubin, dealt with differential equation models describing the energy and other properties of boundaries between two different phases (such as liquid and solid) in a material.
“He also made multiple contributions to quantitative behavioral finance,” Rubin said, “which describes various factors that influence valuations of assets. For example, his recent studies on bubbles in cryptocurrency pricing attracted significant attention.”
Caginalp’s departmental colleague Christopher J. Lennard noted that Caginalp was quite active in advocating for various local issues, including maintaining the air quality of Pittsburgh by opposing the opening of a new coking plant and any potential issues that could arise from redevelopment of the Nine Mile Run area, as well as supporting intellectual property rights of Pitt faculty and the establishment of the faculty union.
Born in Ankara, Turkey, Caginalp earned his AB, MS and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University, the last in 1978, and also taught at Cornell, Rockefeller and Carnegie Mellon universities. He published more than 100 papers in physics, materials science and economics/finance journals, including nine with Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith.
He served as the editor of the Journal of Behavioral Finance (1999-2003) and was an associate editor for many journals. He was the recipient of National Science Foundation and private foundation awards.
Caginalp is survived by his wife, Eva, and three sons, Reggie, Ryan and Carey, with the latter of whom he co-authored recent papers.
— Marty Levine
Favorini founded Theatre Arts department and Shakespeare festival
Attilio “Buck” Favorini, who founded the University’s Department of Theatre Arts in 1982 and the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival (1980-1993), died Jan. 22, 2022.
Favorini joined the Pitt faculty in 1969, having received the Richard Lanpher Fellowship from Yale and graduating with a Ph.D. in the history of theater. In 1971, he became head of the University’s Theatre Arts Division, which by 1982 he had shaped into a department. He was its head and chair for 27 years, including many years as director of graduate studies — another program he had shepherded.
Annmarie Duggan, whom Favorini hired in 2006 to take over as chair, worked with him until his retirement in 2013.
“He was lovely — a great colleague,” she recalled. “He had formed the department, so he brought all the important information with him. I used him as a model. He was really supportive, both as a colleague and then as an emeritus.
“There is a department because of him,” she said. “He was a man who when he thought it should get done, he got it done. He loved all students but … he was so proud of the graduate program. I can’t say enough about how he formed it and how well it worked under him.
“He was passionate about the plays that we did,” she added, which included the Gammage Project, for which Favorini received the 2012 Artistic Achievement award from the Pittsburgh Black Political Empowerment Project. The play explored the death of Jonny Gammage, a black man who died during a 1995 encounter with police in suburban Pittsburgh. The production, for which Duggan designed the lighting, first played on campus and then the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh.
“I want him to be remembered as a great teacher and a great champion of theater at the University of Pittsburgh,” Duggan said, “and a great champion of all students he crossed paths with.”
During his decades at Pitt, he oversaw the construction or renovation of the Charity Randall Theatre, the Henry Heymann Theatre and the Richard E. Rauh Studio Theatre. He served on many University committees, founding the sustainability subcommittee of the University Senate. He also was academic dean of Semester-at-Sea for the fall 1986 voyage. His Shakespeare-in-the-Schools program served more than 100,000 area students and teachers for more than two decades with performances, workshops and residencies.
Favorini served on the boards of the American Society for Theatre Research, the National Association of Schools of Theatre and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. He received a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and support from the Public Committee for the Humanities in Pennsylvania.
In 1979, he earned an award for distinguished service to the profession for his decade editing the American Society for Theatre Research journal. Pittsburgh magazine named him Pittsburgher of the Year in the Arts in 1989 in recognition of the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, which he directed for 13 seasons.
Favorini published an anthology on documentary theater and his first play, “Steel/City,” written with Gil Elvgren, made several local year-end best lists. He also produced the Jewish Play Festival and Conference on Jewish Playwriting in 1983; his play “In the Garden of Live Flowers,” written with Lynne Conner, won the Kennedy Center David Mark Cohen award in 2002.
In addition, he authored the plays “Hearts and Diamonds” (1980), “Yearbook” (1993), “Rachel Carson Saves the Day!” (2006) and “Lessons from the Birds” (2010) — all of which had Pittsburgh settings and subjects. His productions ran in theaters across the country, from Lexington and Chicago to Los Angeles and Houston, and one was featured on the “Today” show in 1976.
He also worked to keep other local theaters alive, for a time reviving the old Pittsburgh Playhouse, which morphed into the Pittsburgh 99¢ Floating Theatre Festival, which specialized in avant-garde productions. He secured a grant to form the City Theatre Company out of another company that had lost its performance space, hiring Marc Masterson as artistic director for its 11-year run at the University.
He is survived by his wife, Lisa; children Francis Favorini, Marie (Ben Frandzel) Favorini, Anton (Sarah Larson) Favorini-Csorba and Francesca (Luca Nygren) Favorini-Csorba; grandson Jeno Favorini-Larson and sister Cecilia (Robert) Balog and many cousins, a nephew and a niece. ‘
A local memorial is planned for this spring.
— Marty Levine
Schwartz was specialist in 16th-century French language and literature
Jerome Schwartz, a 32-year French faculty member and well-known scholar in early modern French studies, died Jan. 12, 2022.
“I first had the pleasure of reading his 1990 book “Irony and Ideology in Rablelais” while I was a Ph.D. student,” recalled Todd Reeser, chair of the Department of French & Italian. Schwartz’s early work also resulted in the book “Diderot and Montaigne.” “Since then, I have cited his important work in my own scholarship on Renaissance France.”
Born Feb. 10, 1935, in Queens, New York, Schwartz earned his BA, MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University, the latter in 1965. He had already taught at the prestigious Lycée Henri-IV in Paris (1956-1957), where he met his wife, Sandra, who was in France on a Fulbright scholarship.
He joined the Pitt faculty in 1965 — the year his department was founded — and was tenured in 1968. He was promoted to full professor in 1989 and retired as professor emeritus in 1997.
While at Pitt, he brought students from Pitt and other universities to spend the year in Rouen, France (1970-1971), a part of a University program to study French literature, and wrote many articles for scholarly reviews and presented at conferences across the United States.
Schwartz became a specialist in 16th-century French language and literature, and widened the study of French literature from Francophone countries, Sandra Schwartz said. He was involved with analyzing translations “and how often they were mistranslated,” she said, and was very meticulous in his study.
“He became obsessed with one essay that Montaigne wrote,” she recalled, and needed to find out whether a comma or a semi-colon had been used in one spot in the original. That meant traveling to the French library where it was held. She remembers him being greeted with: “You’re the man who traveled all the way here in search of a comma.”
In fact they spent all his sabbaticals in France, doing research, she said.
He was a fine pianist and took a tremendous interest in that study, but pursued painting upon retirement with a particular passion. That created an entire second career, she noted: “For 10 years he painted nonstop. He sold paintings. He won prizes. He belonged to galleries. He had exhibitions.”
The couple’s friend Merilee Salmon, emeritus professor in the history and philosophy of science, recalls him as “a very educated man. He would converse about a lot of things. He was a delight to be with. A great sense of humor. Just a charming man — a wonderful man and a good friend.”
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Sandra Schwartz, and his two daughters, Lena Bennet and Monika Schwartz. A memorial service will be planned in the future.
Donations are suggested to The Plastic Club (www.plasticclub.org) or Curtis Institute of Music (www.curtis.edu).
— Marty Levine
Peggie Dunklin always helped others, even in the face of adversity
Margaret “Peggie” Miller Dunklin, 55 — a 33-year Pitt employee, including the last nine years as director of budget and human resources for the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA) — died Dec. 7, 2021.
“She brought the Pitt to it,” Marc Harding said of Dunklin’s work here. Harding, head of OAFA, recalled that “Peggie’s love of Pitt really shone through. She was one of the foundational workers for the work she did.”
That’s why her office was next to his, he said. “It's important for a person in that position to hear everything that is going on. It was a very, very large job,” since Dunklin was responsible for the administration of OAFA work toward new undergraduate enrollment for the Pittsburgh campus and financial aid for all students, as well as oversight of OAFA’s 107 employees, including a direct supervisory role over several.
“She handled all new hire processes and staff development for the office” as well as the 200 Pathfinder student tour guides overseen by OAFA. “She also knew how to balance a budget to the dime … If staff traveled and needed reimbursements, or the department needed to pay for muffins for guests, or purchasing for the office,” Dunklin handled it expertly, he said.
“Peggie knew how to juggle all this responsibility,” he added. However, “she was first and foremost known as a compassionate staff member. It was her ability to connect with people, her caring, her kindness. … I witnessed her dealing with every human resources issue. If someone fainted, she was there. … She would make sure staff felt connected and engaged and she was part of creating as welcoming and inviting a culture as any unit of the University.
“It was so much more than just a job for her,” Harding said. “Pitt was her life.” Her office was decorated with Pitt sports memorabilia and she could often be seen at Pitt games and in Pitt gear.
Peggie Dunklin was one of 11 children, all of whom attended Pitt. Her father, John Miller, worked as a superintendent of maintenance in Tower A, and her sister Katie is now a dental hygienist working at Pitt, meaning that the Miller family has worked a total of 75 years here.
Dunklin’s brothers Jack and Mike were lettermen in Pitt baseball, and her daughter Maura graduated from Pitt and now conducts research at Magee-Womens Hospital.
Peggie Dunklin served as chair or co-chair of her office’s United Way campaign for every year of her employment there, and made fresh waffles in the office each year as her personal fundraiser. “It's just something we couldn't wait to do every year,” Harding said.
OAFA in turn has created a permanent endowed scholarship fund in her name — the Peggie Miller Memorial Fund — to raise at least $25,000 before Feb. 21, 2022. It will support at least two undergraduate students with financial need from the Pittsburgh area with $500 book awards each year. The fund has raised nearly $17,000 so far.
Dunklin was a lifelong Pittsburgher, growing up in Cranberry and moving to Oakdale to raise her own family. Born June 9, 1966 to the late John F. Miller Jr. and Ruth Rodgers Miller, she graduated from Seneca Valley High School (1984) and then earned her bachelor’s degree in communications at Pitt (1988) and a Master of Law Studies degree here just last year. Her Pitt career included work in the Office of University Communications and Marketing before joining OAFA.
“One of Peggie’s greatest legacies,” recalled Harding, “is her affinity to help others, even in the face of adversity. Two weeks before Peggie’s death, she asked me to visit her. … She looked at me and made me promise that after she passes, I would remind the entire staff of two important things: to bank their sick time because you never know when you’re going to need it, and to make sure you put as much money as possible away toward retirement. She told me this as she was trying to manage through great pain, and sadness. This was Peggie. Putting others before self and channeling her favorite quote,” which has been attributed to Maya Angelou: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
“This was a Pitt person through and through,” he added. “This was her home. This was her place. This was her love. This was her passion.”
She is survived by her husband, Marvin; her two children, Michael Hohn (Ashley) and Maura Hohn; her grandson William Flynn; her 10 brothers and sisters, John F. Miller III (Page), Michael Miller (Carla), Dennis Miller (Leslie), Susan DeFrancesco (Gary), Michelle Miller, Colleen Mahoney (Peter), Mary Lococo (Sam), William Rodgers Miller (Cindy), Timothy Miller (Jennifer), and Kathleen McKay (Gary); and all of her nieces and nephews.
— Marty Levine
Rycheck was a 42-year epidemiology faculty member in the Graduate School of Public Health
Russell Rule Rycheck, a 42-year epidemiology faculty member in the Graduate School of Public Health with three Pitt degrees, died on Dec. 17, 2021 at 89.
Evelyn O. Talbott, Rycheck’s student, teaching assistant and eventual departmental colleague, recalls him as “just an amazing mentor. He was kind; he was personable. He built you up. And he always gave constructive criticism.”
Rycheck taught Introduction to Epidemiology, a primary course for the entire school, and by 1994 Talbott had become a secondary teacher in the course. He was a “wonderful, lovely man,” she remembers. “He was incredibly organized.” If students had a problem in the course and came to see him, “his door was always open. You would never leave without the question being answered. He brought a lot of clarity to teaching” and was “just selfless. He was a clear thinker, a clear writer, and he helped students tremendously.”
She recalls her research work with Rycheck to map rates of rubella immunization, which was a new vaccination campaign at the time and required geocoding 169,000 children. Rycheck performed a lot of work for the Allegheny County Health Department as well, she says, and worked on vaccine compliance for another new vaccine among the elderly in the 1990s. He also did work early in his career on the transmission of droplet nuclei that spread tuberculosis. “He had a keen mind,” she says. “He was an epidemiologist’s epidemiologist.”
Born in Racine, Wisconsin, Rycheck received his B.S. degree from Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., in chemistry and biology in 1953 and earned the rest of his degrees from Pitt: an M.D. in 1957, and both the M.P.H. in maternal and child health (1959) and the Dr.P.H. in epidemiology (1964) from Pitt Public Health. He completed his post-graduate work at Pitt as well, from his internship at what would become UPMC to a residency and fellowships at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and a research fellowship in Pitt Public Health that ended in 1964 – when he began his teaching career here. He had a joint appointment in the School of Medicine and retired in 2006.
Rycheck was a diplomate in General Preventative Medicine for the American Board of Preventative Medicine and a fellow in the American College of Preventative Medicine. He worked with the Centers for Disease Control and was a member of the consulting staff at UPMC Children's Hospital and the infection committees at UPMC Presbyterian and Magee-Womens hospitals.
He received the Excellence in Teaching award from the students of his school, the Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni award at Pitt, the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award from the University multiple times, and the Margaret Gloninger award for his teaching and service to his school and the community.
Pitt Public Health has established the Russell Rule Rycheck Award for a promising Master of Public Health student (https://publichealth.pitt.edu/home/admissions-aid/tuition-and-financial-aid/types-of-aid/grants-and-scholarships/rycheck-award) which gives $500 to students for professional development or other “opportunities that would enhance their training as a public health practitioner.”
His department chair, Anne B. Newman, memorialized him in a statement as “the embodiment of the kind and wise professor,” while former colleague Elsa S. Strotmeyer wrote that “Dr. Rycheck’s encouragement and support of me as well as countless other students was limitless. The quality of his interactions with students was something that I admired greatly, even more so after I became a faculty colleague of his.”
Epidemiology faculty member Thomas Songer was Rycheck’s student in 1983 before he became a colleague and then took over teaching the introductory course when Rycheck retired.
“He must have taught 10,000 students,” Songer says, and “the vast majority of the students will speak lovingly of him.
When Songer inherited the course, “I went through his materials and I still use some of them today, because they are so wonderful … They help students tremendously to understand difficult concepts.
“When he was teaching, he just had a soft manner,” Songer recalls. “He wasn't pressuring you if you didn't have the right approach” to understanding a concept immediately.
“His office was the messiest office I've ever seen,” Songer adds. “He held onto everything. But he knew where everything was” and could find it in an instant. “He was always very accommodating to other faculty.
“The University needs all kinds of different faculty members for it to truly function as a university,” Songer says. “Russ was a very important faculty member to make our department, our school,” function as it should. Other faculty may be more proficient at gaining grant money for research, but “we need solid teachers and we need faculty who understand the university process and help students.
“I think we undervalue these types of faculty members. Russ is the model for the type of faculty members universities need right now.”
Rycheck was the husband of Joan for 59 years, the father of Michael (Ron Hernandez) and Juley (David) Stragand, and the grandfather of Zachary.
Memorial gifts are suggested to The Dr. Russell Rycheck Student Award in Public Health, Philanthropic & Alumni Engagement, 128 N. Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.
Koch was first chair of French & Italian languages department
Philip Koch, first chair of the Department of French & Italian Languages & Literatures (1965-72) and professor emeritus in French, died Oct. 19, 2021.
Born Dec. 31, 1927, in the Bronx, N.Y., he was raised in Queens and Brooklyn and graduated from Harvard College in 1949 with an AB magna cum laude in Romance Languages and Literatures, earning his Ph.D. there as well, in French.
Shortly after marrying Frances A. (Bonanno) Koch in 1952, he was awarded a pre-doctoral Fulbright scholarship for research in Naples (1953-54), and a Fulbright Research Travel Grant a decade later for research in Paris, and took two subsequent trips to France to further projects on 18th-century French literature.
He began his academic teaching career as an instructor at Northwestern in 1955 and moved to Bryn Mawr College the next year, earning the assistant professor rank in 1958. Koch joined the Pitt faculty in 1961, quickly moving to professor in 1966 and remaining here until his retirement in 1992.
At Pitt, he oversaw the completion of many doctoral dissertations, was a member of the University Senate Council and Faculty Assembly and was active on committees in his school and department. He contributed to many journals and books during his years, while lecturing throughout the world.
Francesca Savoia, professor emerita in Italian, worked alongside Koch in his last decade as a faculty member. “We shared (and often discussed) our research interest in the European 18th century,” Savoia recalled, “and especially the theater of the time (including the influence that Commedia dell'Arte had in France and … that French classical tragedy had in Italy).”
He also recruited her to join the committee he chaired organizing an annual American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies conference in Pittsburgh in 1991, one year before his retirement.
She remembered fondly the hospitality of Koch and his wife when she first arrived in Pittsburgh “and the friendship they demonstrated to me and my family” throughout the years.
Koch helped to hire Benjamin Hicks, now an emeritus faculty member in French. “At the interview,” Hicks said, “I remember thinking he’d be a very good colleague, and he was. I was very impressed” by his demeanor and interest.
His former students spoke of his influence — and style:
“I took a class on 18th century French literature with Dr. Koch in his last semester before retirement, which was my first year of graduate school,” said Aparna Nayak, now a faculty member at California State–Long Beach. “Even at the end of his career, he remained an engaged and committed educator. His deep and harmonious voice was perfect for theater and it remains etched in my mind.”
“Professor Koch’s impeccable French and beautifully crafted lectures were a privilege,” said another former graduate student, Rajeshwari S. Vallury — now a French faculty member at the University of New Mexico. “His classroom presence and delivery remain a timeless model for university professors and a personal inspiration. He exercised his profession with grace and intelligence. No one could carry off his elegant full suits, complete with waistcoat and pocket watch!
“Till today, every time I teach “Madame Bovary” by Flaubert or “L’étranger” by Camus, I recall my afternoons in the French Room at the Cathedral of Learning, and Professor Koch’s incisive remarks on a passage or moment in the narrative. Getting an A from him on my term paper was one of the proudest moments of that first year at Pitt. Here is to a life well-lived.”
Koch and his wife retired to Maine in 1995.
He is survived by two sons, Philip S. Koch and Erec R. Koch; two daughters-in-law, Faith Curtin Koch and Joaniko Kohchi; and four grandchildren, Larissa Koch Ursprung and Andrei, Nicole and Antonia Koch.
— Marty Levine
Harper was law school’s first Black tenured professor
Robert Berkley Harper, first Black tenured professor in the School of Law, died Oct. 12, 2021 at 82.
“Bob was a larger-than-life figure in the law school for many years,” said his former colleague Arthur Hellman, now professor emeritus, who arrived at Pitt in the middle of Harper’s first Pitt Law post as the school’s assistant dean (1973-77). “He was one of the most engaged teachers we've ever had at the law school, because he loved being with students and talking to students.”
Hellman recalled seeing Harper in the school’s hallways, surrounded by debating students. “They'd follow him on the elevator to get up to the fifth floor,” where faculty offices are located, and continue the discussion there. “For Bob, the class meetings were just the start of what he felt were his responsibilities as a teacher.
“He was something of a performer, always conveying ideas in a way that would help students understand them but also keep their attention,” Hellman said.
“Bob was a very bright, big-hearted person,” said another long-time colleague, Lawrence Frolik, now emeritus professor. “He cared about the law and he cared about people.
“Bob had an upper-level class in evidence and that class was always heavily enrolled,” Frolik recalled — even though this course was not required and Harper could be tough on students who weren’t prepared to respond in class discussions.
“When he retired, he was a loss to the school,” Frolik said.
Born in the Hill District, Harper graduated in 1958 from Fifth Avenue High School as a member of the National Honor Society. He earned his undergraduate degree in education from Pitt in 1962; had a stint in the Army, including time in Korea as a first lieutenant; and eventually entered Pitt’s law school, graduating in 1971. He worked for the city’s police bureau as chief legal adviser before joining the Pitt faculty.
Hellman and Frolik both remembered Harper as a force for compromise in a profession trained to argue persistently for your own side. In committee meetings, Hellman said, “he was always focusing on the task at hand and pushing us to do it efficiently … In faculty meetings, he was always one to find the middle ground — to bridge the gap and allow faculty to reach a consensus.”
Relatively late in his career, Harper began a new focus on education law, which was rare at the time. This placed him greatly in demand at education conferences, Hellman said.
“He really did have a gift for taking complex legal topics and explaining them in a way that people without a legal education could understand … without distorting them or making them simpler than they were,” Hellman said. “Bob found an entirely new audience for Pitt expertise … In that sense he was an ambassador for the law school.”
Harper is survived by his brother Henry (Yvonne).
A memorial service will be held in March 2022 in Pittsburgh.
— Marty Levine
LaPorte pioneered registry for diabetes patients
Ronald LaPorte, an emeritus professor of epidemiology who had a unique and lasting impact on everything from diabetes research to open-access academic lectures, the modern Library of Alexandria and care for homeless veterans, died on Oct. 30, 2021 at 72.
As LaPorte finished his Ph.D. in psychology at Pitt in 1976, he jumped at the chance to take a post-doctoral fellowship in a completely new field for him, epidemiology, to work under that department’s new chair, Lew Kuller (now emeritus) and his research program. LaPorte soon struck out in his own direction as well, examining the benefits of steady, rather than intense, physical activity and of low to moderate alcohol intake on cholesterol levels.
He completed an M.S. Hyg. degree in epidemiology and served as a faculty member for 35 years.
Early on, he proposed and organized the first registry for insulin-dependent diabetes patients in Allegheny County, then worked through the World Health Organization to establish similar registries in 50 countries, which has been a boon to diabetes research.
As his colleagues note in the funeral notice composed after his death: “The most remarkable feature of this project was not the extensive and novel data collected, nor the methodology that was established (including capture-recapture to determine completeness of case ascertainment), rather it was the fact that this was achieved with virtually no funding despite WHO recognition. Ron’s enthusiasm, passion and willingness to help collaborators day or night was sufficient for them to work, for free, on this project and on related studies,” including Diacomp, a worldwide study of type 1 diabetes complications, and Diabetes Epidemiology Research International, a study of mortality in the disease.
This led to early population genetic studies as well as short, intensive diabetes epidemiology training courses. These efforts prompted the establishment of a WHO Collaborating Center at Pitt, which LaPorte directed and for which he received the Kelly West Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Epidemiology from the American Diabetes Association in 1988.
His colleagues also noted on the department webpage: “To his many friends and collaborators across the globe, Ron LaPorte was both the inexhaustible investigator who led them down the path of constant enquiry and an instant friend who brought energy and fun to any gathering.”
LaPorte’s connections around the world were astounding, Kuller recalled. LaPorte insisted Kuller look up LaPorte’s contact in Beijing when Kuller and his wife vacationed there, and Kuller ended up with a tour of a Chinese chronic disease hospital and a symposium with Chinese graduate students. The same thing happened to Kuller on trips to Korea and Japan, he said.
“They were basically one huge family of scientists all over the world who collaborated” on the registries, he said, thanks to LaPorte.
Kuller recalls LaPorte as “a very unique man” whose impulse to make epidemiological findings open to the world, along with his fascination with the possibilities of the internet, prompted him to create the Supercourse: a collection of free lectures from leading experts on all aspects of public health. Today it has reached approximately 2 million scientists around the globe with 203,050 lectures in 38 languages.
“He continued through his entire life to build on his idea of an open-society approach to information,” Kuller notes, most recently adding early COVID-19 studies as soon as they were available. “He was way ahead of his time on this. The Supercourse was a super-activity he was undertaking. He had very little funding. … It’s truly amazing that he fought through all these barriers” to get his projects done.
That included shipping thousands of books that were no longer needed here, but which had not been seen in certain developing countries, to the Library of Alexandria, Egypt. He asked scientists across the world to donate epidemiology and statistical textbooks, thus making them available to African students. The library’s emeritus director, Ismail Serageldin, memorialized LaPorte as “always smiling, always brimming with new ideas, always questioning why we could not make this a better world. Always laughing at the boldness, not to say the craziness, of his own ideas. Ron always had the confidence that, somehow, by working together we could make it happen… (He had) endless energy. He would write emails at all hours. 24/7. Always inventing something new to do.”
In more recent years, LaPorte took up the problem of homeless veterans, and began asking people to contribute their old cell phones to allow these vets to stay in contact with their families and with health care providers — a concept that the Veterans Administration has since adopted, Kuller said.
“He was a very good teacher,” Kuller adds, pointing to the students who went on to great success after his tutelage as ministers of health, presidents of national societies and leading positions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its National Center for Health Statistics. LaPorte earned the Lilienfeld Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award from the American Public Health Association.
One of his first doctoral students was Lucile L. Adams-Campbell, associate director of minority health and health disparities research and oncology faculty member at Georgetown. “Mentoring was his strongest suit,” she said. “He was considered the mentor’s mentor.
“He was really good at guiding and instructing and teaching on an individual basis,” she added, “and simplifying concepts. I talked to Ron seven days a week as a student. This was a 24/7 guy. He was always engaged the entire time. He enjoyed working, doing the science, talking about it.
LaPorte helped organize a department gathering of students and faculty every Friday during her years at Pitt (1979-83). “The key to that … was to get the faculty and students constantly talking and engaged. I haven’t seen that anywhere else. He definitely made certain that people were working together, collaborating.”
LaPorte is survived by his wife of 24 years, Jan Dorman (professor emerita in the School of Nursing), his sister Susan Bennett, her husband Jerry and their children Timothy and Jennifer Bennett.
Visitation is 6-8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Nov. 9 at Schellhaas & Sons Funeral Home, 1600 Stone Mansion Dr., Sewickley. Memorial services will be in the funeral home at 11 a.m. Nov. 10.
Memorial gifts are suggested to the Department of Epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health, giveto.pitt.edu/ronlaporte or 412-608-0058.
— Marty Levine
Wolke had a knack for making chemistry understandable to all
Chemistry Professor-emeritus Robert L. Wolke — known for his ability to interpret chemistry to the least-experienced students and the public, and his talent for developing faculty and facilities — died Aug. 29, 2021.
“He was a brilliant scientist, gifted teacher and a real raconteur,” said W. Richard Howe, associate dean for administration and planning in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. Howe recalled Wolke as “an active contributor to any discussion with a wealth of insights, facts and personal experiences.
“Bob’s core teaching assignments were graduate-level physical chemistry and nuclear chemistry,” he said. “However, he had a special knack for teaching chemistry for undergraduate non-science majors. Bob had a flair for presenting basic chemical principles in a fashion that was clear and meaningful to those students who didn’t have a mathematical background,” in the classroom and in the textbooks Impact: Science on Society and Chemistry Explained.
Wolke was the first director of the University’s Office of Faculty Development (1977-87), working with new and experienced faculty as well as graduate teaching assistants. He was also chair of the chemistry department’s Facilities Planning Committee, which worked with the architects and lab designers to consolidate the highly scattered chemistry unit “to address the department’s current needs and to provide for the future requirements of faculty research in fields that hadn’t even been identified,” Howe said. The result was a new 15-floor science facility, since dubbed the Chevron Science Center.
“Bob provided comedic updates on campus politics whenever the opportunity presented itself,” Howe remembered. “Former Chancellor (Wesley) Posvar held a series of off-site, annual leadership conferences. Although Bob never shielded the chancellor from his hard-hitting satire, Chancellor Posvar enjoyed Bob’s view of the University and didn’t hesitate to include Bob as part of the evening entertainment.”
After his retirement in 1990, Wolke channeled his many talents into a column for the Washington Post, titled Food 101, and wrote a series of popular books that included “What Einstein Didn’t Know”; “What Einstein Told His Barber”; “What Einstein Told His Cook”; and “What Einstein Kept Under His Hat,” the latter two of which were nominated for best technical or reference book by both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
He won both the IACP’s Bert Greene Award for best newspaper food writing, and the American Chemical Society’s 2005 Grady-Stack Award for interpreting chemistry to the public.
Born April 2, 1928, Wolke earned his B.S. in chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from Cornell.
He began his Pitt career directing the Wherrett Laboratory of Nuclear Chemistry (1961-77), and was academic dean of Semester at Sea (1982).
In addition, he taught chemistry in Spanish at universities in Puerto Rico and Venezuela, was a higher-education consultant for UNESCO and the USIA in Bangladesh, and served as a resident fellow in French history and culture at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.
One former colleague who joined the chemistry department in 1968, Alfred Moye, counts Wolke as a mentor. “I was really very fortunate that Bob Wolke embraced me,” Moye said. “He was a fellow who was really interested in teaching and how to make chemistry less intimidating to his students. He was quite a role model for me. And I believe he was among the faculty who submitted my name for outstanding teaching award” during the award’s first year, Moye said.
“The fact that he started writing about cooking was not a surprise,” Moye added. “He was bringing alive the chemistry that all of us see” — but don’t always understand as chemistry.
He is survived by his wife Marlene Parrish; daughter Leslie Wolke; and brother Arthur Wolke. Memorial gifts are suggested to World Central Kitchen.
— Marty Levine
Ake Grenvik was a giant in critical care medicine
Ake Grenvik, founding chief of the Division of Critical Care Medicine — eulogized by his department as “one of Critical Care Medicine’s giants” — died Sept. 5, 2021, at 92.
"Ake was one of a special small group of visionaries who paved the way for the rest of us in critical care,” said Ann Thompson, School of Medicine vice dean, in the department’s memorial.
Critical Care Medicine chair Derek Angus called him “A North Star for critical care.”
Grenvik was editor of the first major textbook on the subject, a founding member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and instrumental in the national effort to define such critical care concepts as “critical care triage” and “brain dead” and the ideas of “letting die” and “terminal weaning,” including participating in White House councils on the subject.
Grenvik’s former colleague, Michael R. Pinsky, vice chair emeritus of the department, knew him for 40 years. Pinsky joined Pitt in 1981 as director of one intensive care unit — another concept Grenvik helped to pioneer — while Grenvik headed another ICU.
“When you met Ake, he just had an aura about him that you could just trust him,” Pinsky said, and that he was interested in collaboration above all. “He was gracious and involving. He was a profoundly honest and fair man,” in assessing fellows’ daily reports, for instance — correcting legitimate issues they might have found but also gently explaining reasons why procedural changes perhaps weren’t needed.
Grenvik was instrumental in the multidisciplinary critical care training program, Pinsky said — the first such program to combine surgeons, anesthesiologists and internists. He also worked closely with pioneering transplant surgeon Thomas Starzl on the ICU component of liver and lung transplants.
“When he became one of the first critical care medicine doctors, he discovered right away that you could keep people alive forever using artificial means, and that raised a very important question: Should you?” Pinsky added — thus instituting a more humanistic approach to management of the critically ill. “He constantly brought the conversation back to: ‘What does the patient need or want?’”
Born in 1929 in Sweden, Grenvik earned his medical degree from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in 1956. He completed residencies in general and thoracic surgery, mostly in anesthesia at the University of Uppsala, and there completed crucial clinical studies on cardiopulmonary interactions in the critically ill.
“His studies linked the fragmented laboratory and clinical observations from the past into a cohesive picture of heart-lung interactions that forms the basis for what is known today,” his department said. “That work also prepared him to understand and guide the care of critically ill patients.”
He was recruited to Pitt in 1968, where he was an anesthesiology resident and head of a new intensive care unit at what would become UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. It was second ICU of its kind in the world — both begun by Peter Safar, then at Pitt but earlier in Baltimore. Grenvik received the University’s Distinguished Professorship award. His 43-year Pitt career ended with his retirement in 2011.
Grenvik is survived by his children Anders, Monica and Stefan, their spouses and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
From 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 25, the family will receive visitors at Beinhauer Funeral Home, 2828 Washington Road, McMurray, PA 15317. A graveside service will follow immediately at Forest Lawn Gardens Cemetery.
A reception for all guests will be held that day from 4 to 7 p.m., at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh at the Meadow Lands, 340 Racetrack Road, Washington, PA 15301.
Memorial gifts are suggested to the Grenvik Family Foundation at the Society of Critical Care Medicine, 500 Midway Drive, Mount Prospect, IL 60056, or www.sccm.org/donate.
— Marty Levine
Yousem was internationally recognized lung pathologist
Samuel Alan Yousem, head of anatomic pathology in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology, died at 64 on Aug. 17, 2021.
George Michalopoulos, department chair, wrote in eulogizing Yousem for the Pulmonary Pathology Society: “I always knew that I had made the right decision by appointing Sam Yousem as the executive vice chair for anatomic pathology around 1997. … In addition to expanding the depth and scope of our department, he and I worked together to make the academic center a team of deeply subspecialized pathologists, so that we would provide the best diagnosis not only for our immediate hospitals, but also for all the 30-some community hospitals and centers owned by UPMC.
“In the years that followed, Sam and I worked closely together towards maintaining a high caliber of faculty, both in the academic and the community hospitals. I will miss Sam as a friend and partner.”
In the introduction to the society’s remembrances, Yousem is lauded as an internationally recognized lung pathologist and premier in his field.
Sam Yousem was born on Oct. 17, 1956, in Baltimore. He graduated from high school at 16 and then from Duke University, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, in 1977. He earned his M.D. from the University of Maryland Medical School, graduating Alpha Omega Alpha and magna cum laude in 1981.
Yousem completed anatomic pathology training at Stanford (1981-85) and became best known throughout his career as a pulmonary pathologist, an interest he developed while working at Stanford with Charles Carrington, one of the giants of pulmonary pathology at that time. Yousem published approximately a dozen peer-reviewed journals papers while at Stanford, including the first detailed descriptions of obliterative bronchiolitis following lung transplantation.
Yousem then joined the pulmonary division at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (1985-87), publishing nearly three dozen peer-reviewed articles during this time. He was then recruited to Pitt, starting his career here as an assistant professor but quickly ascending the ranks, becoming the Leon Barnes Professor, as well as director of anatomic pathology and vice chair of anatomic pathology services (both 1994-2020).
During his years at the University, he also served as residency program director (1992-98). A former trainee, writing about Yousem, remembered him as using stories to make his teachings tremendously memorable and for taking great care to walk trainees through the thought process toward a difficult diagnosis.
In 2001, while vice chair, Yousem converted the UPMC Anatomic Pathology Division into an organ-based Center of Excellence subspecialty system — one of the first in the U.S. He advocated for the use of new techniques in pathology, such as molecular diagnostics, and is remembered as an innovator in telepathology. He also was known for creating and furthering relations among American and foreign institutions.
Yousem’s research through the years reported early descriptions of light chain disease in the lung, myoepithelioma of the lung, alveolar adenoma, bronchiolocentric interstitial pneumonia, respiratory bronchiolitis associated interstitial lung disease, intravascular lymphomatosis, HPV in lung cancer, clonality in pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis, genetic studies of pulmonary IMTs and other entities that have since become widely recognized.
He is best known for studies and writing about the pathology of lung transplantation and biopsy surveillance for rejection, which resulted in invitations to speak across the globe.
Yousem is survived by his children Jack, Bailey and Emilie; brother David (Kelly); and mother Stella. Memorial gifts are suggested to North American Butterfly Association, 4 Delaware Road, Morristown, NJ 07960.
— Marty Levine
Levey helped transform the Department of Medicine
Gerald S. Levey, a transformative leader of the School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, died June 25, 2021, at 84.
Alan Robinson, vice chair under Levey, recalls the state of the department when Levey took the leadership post in 1979: “When he came there, the department was in debt, it didn't have any organized plan. He started a unified practice plan” — before such things were common, Robinson said.
“He hired a number of new division chiefs and new faculty members and in three short years the department was in a positive situation financially. That was a huge contribution” to the entire school, Robinson said.
He and Levey were colleagues across four decades, at Pitt and later at UCLA, where Robinson is associate vice chancellor of medical sciences and associate dean of the School of Medicine. In both places, Levey displayed a “fantastic memory for names.” In Pitt division and department meetings, if a colleague asked a question, “he invariably knew their name. He knew all the residents and interacted with them. He knew them years after they had left the program.
“Jerry had a tremendous sense of humor,” Robinson added, recalling how, long after Levey’s 2010 retirement, the two of them still enjoyed reviewing the jokes Levey had collected as meeting ice breakers
Levey left Pitt in 1991 to take a job at Merck for three years, Robinson said, after then-UPMC head Thomas Detre advised Levey he didn’t yet have the requisite training to lead a large academic medical center. He moved to UCLA to do exactly that three years later and recruited Robinson to follow him.
“I knew him so long,” Robinson said, that, when asked to edit any piece praising Levey’s work, he knew to give most of the credit to Levey’s faculty, “because I knew that's what Jerry would want.”
Linda Marts, administrator for undergraduate medical education under Levey for his first decade here, recalled: “Those were the best years of my life. He changed the whole trajectory of the Department of Medicine. He really got the faculty more involved. He brought in new faculty who were known nationally.”
When Levey drove into work with colleagues, he would sometimes pass Marts at her bus stop in Shadyside and pick her up. “By the time we got to Scaife Hall, I had two or three projects I had to handle. And I had to keep it in my head until we got to work. I always found that delightful — although sometimes a little stressful if I forgot something.”
However, she added, “I always felt that he had my back. He was just a really good and kind man.”
Another Pitt colleague, emeritus Medicine faculty member Frank Kroboth, wrote in a remembrance: “To a brand-new faculty member, Jerry was the best. He was always positive, encouraging, with just the right amount of advice and feedback. … He took personal interest in developing my skill even though he presided over a large department. His boundless energy proved very effective in constructing a new department around a core of veterans. … Jerry was able to be a great leader and a most memorable friend.”
Famed for his fundraising, particularly at UCLA, he wrote a book on the subject, “A Gift for the Asking,” and another on leadership, which he titled after his favorite expression, “Never Be Afraid to Do the Right Thing.”
After graduating from Cornell, Levey earned his medical degree from Seton Hall and took subsequent training at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard and Massachusetts General. His wife Barbara, who died in 2019, joined him at Pitt in 1979 as associate dean and director of admissions.
He is survived by children John and Robin, a sister and three grandchildren.
Memorial gifts are suggested to the Parkinson’s Disease Research Fund at UCLA.
— Marty Levine