To share a recent passing of a member of the Pitt community, Please submit a request to the Pittwire editorial staff. Publicly available obituaries of current and former faculty and staff, students, and alumni will be considered for inclusion in Pittwire Passings.
June 6, 2021
Stewart Cole Blasier, founder of Pitt's Latin American Studies Center
Blasier, founder of Pitt's Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), a pioneering scholar, and a veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and World War II, died June 6 of a suspected heart attack at his retirement home in Mitchellville, Md. He was 96.
During his 10 years as CLAS director, beginning in 1964, Blasier recruited key faculty members and curated a vast collection of Latin American journals, books and other resources at Pitt, currently numbering more than 380,000 volumes and known as the Eduardo Lozano Latin American Collection. It remains one of the 10 largest such collections in the country.
Blasier authored numerous books and papers and continued teaching political science and international relations at Pitt until 1987, when he became chief of the Hispanic Division of the U.S. Library of Congress.
May 14, 2021
Nancy Hrinya Tannery
Nancy Hrinya Tannery, a retired assistant provost and former senior associate director of Pitt's Health Sciences Library System who was recognized as Academic Medical Librarian of the Year by the Medical Library Association, died on May 14, 2021. She also held faculty appointments at Pitt's schools of information science and medicine.
April 19, 2021
Franklin Toker, architectural historian known for scholarship on Pittsburgh, Fallingwater
An architectural historian and archaeologist whose scholarship unearthed revelations about Italy’s Florence Cathedral, Fallingwater and Pittsburgh landmarks, Toker died on April 19, 2021, at his Squirrel Hill home, 10 days shy of his 77th birthday.
For more than 40 years, he taught the history of art and architecture to students at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University. His two best-known books are “Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait” and “Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann and America’s Most Extraordinary House.”
March 30, 2021
Larry E. Davis, pioneering dean of the School of Social Work, dies at 74
Larry E. Davis, dean of Pitt’s School of Social Work from 2001 to 2018 and founding director of its Center on Race and Social Problems, died on March 30, 2021.
Under his leadership, the School of Social Work was ranked among the country’s top 10 social work schools by U.S. News & World Report. He recruited faculty members with wide-ranging specialties, made the school’s doctoral program more rigorous and gained a reputation for being the kind of leader who helped others be successful.
January 31, 2021
Abraham Twerski, Pitt professor emeritus and Gateway Rehabilitation Center founder, dies at 90
Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, a Pitt associate professor emeritus of psychiatry and an international authority on addiction who founded Pittsburgh's Gateway Rehabilitation Center, died from COVID-19 on Jan. 31, 2021, in Israel.
January 30, 2021
Allan R. Sampson, founding chair of Pitt's Statistics Department
Sampson, the founding chair of Pitt's Department of Statistics from 1997 to 2000 and an active researcher, teacher and mentor as an emeritus professor, died on Jan. 30, 2021.
Rory A. Cooper, director of Pitt's Human Engineering Research Laboratories, said Sampson also was "a pioneer in the field of accessibility and inclusion for scientists and engineers with disabilities, having led by example as a leading scientist with a disability."
December 31, 2020
Dick Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. attorney general and a Pitt alumnus and trustee
More pragmatic engineer than passionate ideologue when it came to politics, Thornburgh—a Pitt Law alumnus—maintained a largely untainted reputation that won the trust both of voters who elected him Pennsylvania’s chief executive from 1979 to 1987 and of multiple presidents who tapped him for key roles before and after his governorship.
Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said, "Dick Thornburgh stood in rare company as a leader, colleague and friend, and we're indisputably better off—as a university and a society—due to his incomparable integrity, ingenuity and dedication to serving others."
November 26, 2020
Robert Lee Gale: Pitt professor was prolific biographer of famous authors
Gale's body of work, an astonishing 68 tomes written over the decades, includes critical biographies of literary giants such as Mark Twain, Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
A World War II veteran, Gale was penning yet another book when he fell Nov. 11—Veterans Day—severely injuring his hip. He died on Nov. 26, 2020, of complications related to his injuries. He was 100.
November 26, 2020
Anicet Mundundu, African drum master and ethnomusicologist
A respected multi-instrumentalist, scholar and producer, the Congo native died on Nov. 26, 2020, from complications of pneumonia. He was 62.
Mundundu earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in Pitt's ethnomusicology department, where he also taught music fundamentals, piano, world music and music technology, and directed the University's African Drumming Ensemble.
November 26, 2020
Staniland, a professor emeritus in Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) who played a central role in building the school and shaping its international affairs and development programs, died on Nov. 26, 2020.
Staniland joined GSPIA in 1984 as an associate professor. He was subsequently promoted to full professor and went on to serve as the school’s interim dean from 1995 to1996, interim associate dean in spring 2012 and the director of the International Affairs Program. He twice received the Joseph Pois Award for Distinguished Service from GSPIA. He retired in April 2018.
November 17, 2020
David Young Miller
David Young Miller, a faculty member at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) since 1998 who served in various administrative roles at the school, died Nov. 17, 2020.
He was the founding director of the school's Center for Metropolitan Studies, as well as founding advisor of the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT), where he spearheaded and championed an award-winning national model of networked approaches to leveraging shared policy and program opportunities and resources between the City of Pittsburgh and more than 35 surrounding municipalities.
Miller served as GSPIA’s interim dean (2006-07) and associate dean (1998-2006) and was co-director of the Center for Public Policy and Management in Skopje, Macedonia (2000-06).
September 8, 2020
James G. Greeno, distinguished experimental and educational psychologist
James G. Greeno, a leading scholar at Pitt's Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) and Department of Psychology from 1976 to 1984, died on Sept. 8, 2020, following a prolonged illness. He was 85.
After retiring from Stanford University, Greeno returned to Pitt from 2003 to 2012 as a visiting professor and adjuct professor at the School of Education as well as a center affiliate at LRDC and resident fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science.
August 31, 2020
John Najarian, Pioneering Transplant Surgeon, Dies at 92
John S. Najarian, a groundbreaking transplant surgeon who made headlines for taking on difficult cases, died on Aug. 31, 2020, in Stillwater, Minn. He was 92.
Najarian served as an immunology fellow at Pitt from 1960 to 1963.
August 30, 2020
Demetreus Gore, the 'spark plug' for Pitt basketball in the 1980s, dies at 54
A key figure in Pitt’s rise to national prominence in the late 1980s, Gore died on Aug. 30, 2020, after suffering a heart attack while working out at a gym in the New York area. Current Pitt Men's Basketball Head Coach Jeff Capel tweeted in tribute to Gore, “RIP to a Panther great. Another brother gone too soon!”
August 16, 2020
William Hayes Thies
Pitt alumnus William Hayes Thies died on Aug. 16, 2020, in Lake Forest, Ill.
After earning his PhD in pharmacology from Pitt's School of Medicine, Thies was a faculty member in the medical schools of Pitt and the University of Illinois before joining the American Heart Association, where he formed a new stroke division that later became the American Stroke Association. He took on senior leadership roles at The Alzheimer's Association National Office starting in 1998. He retired In 2013 from full-time work as the Chief Medical and Scientific Officer. Under his leadership, the Alzheimer’s Association awarded millions of dollars to Pitt that resulted in significant advances in Alzheimer’s research.
August 11, 2020
Assistant treasurer, Susan Gilbert, stayed positive despite struggles
Pitt’s assistant treasurer, Susan Gilbert, died Aug. 11, 2020, after an eight-year battle against breast cancer.
Gilbert joined Pitt as assistant treasurer in 2000. “Throughout her tenure,” noted Chief Financial Officer Hari Sastry in a remembrance, “she provided strategic oversight and effective management of the University's capital finance structure, banking and cash management policies/systems, and short-term investment management.”
July 27, 2020
Richard Prosser Mellon / Quiet philanthropist was ‘a giant’ in conservation
Richard P. Mellon, remembered as having done more for land conservation than any private individual in American history, died at age 81 at his summer home on Cousins Island, Maine.
The scale and breadth of giving under his leadership at the Richard King Mellon Foundation touched nearly every aspect of life and culture in southwestern Pennsylvania. But it was his commitment to the creation of Pitt’s Cancer Institute (now the UPMC Hillman Cancer Institute) in the mid-1980s that helped transform the region’s economic forecast by boosting the region's "eds and meds" sector, said Pitt Chancellor Emeritus Mark A. Nordenberg.
July 22, 2020
Carlton Haselrig, six-time NCAA wrestling champion and Pro Bowl lineman with Steelers
Carlton Haselrig, the only six-time wrestling champion in NCAA history, who went on to become a Pro Bowl guard with the Steelers and a mixed martial arts champion, died July 22, 2020, at the age of 54.
His record-breaking wrestling career at Pitt's Johnstown campus forced the NCAA to create the so-called “Carlton Haselrig Rule” barring smaller-school champions from competing at the Division I level.
July 19, 2020
John C. "Jack" Mascaro
Jack Mascaro, a Swanson School of Engineering alumnus and outstanding Pitt volunteer, advocate and benefactor, died on July 19, 2020, after a hard-fought battle with illness. He was 75.
"As one of our Distinguished Alumni, Jack was lauded by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the school for his contributions to Pitt, the region and the profession, and was also honored by the University with the Chancellor’s Medallion," wrote James R. Martin II, the U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering, in an email to the Swanson school community. "Thanks to his beneficence, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and our focus on sustainability will continue his legacy for generations."
July 17, 2020
E. Maxine Bruhns, who dedicated her career to embracing cultural diversity, dies at 96
E. Maxine Bruhns, who brought the diverse cultures and traditions of so many immigrant and refugee communities from around the world to the University of Pittsburgh for students and visitors to experience throughout the past five decades, died on July 17, 2020, in Pittsburgh at age 96.