Summer 2020
In Memoriam

Passings: Summer 2020


Alfred Curtis Ackenheil ENGR ’39, ’54G, January 2020, age 102, of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania. He worked as a consulting civil engineer for 65 years and as a professor of engineering at his alma mater for 42 years. In 1974, he received the Swanson School of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 1996 he received the William Metcalf Award from the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Alex Azar A&S ’64, MED ’64, April 2020, age 80, of Salisbury, Maryland. A native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, he decided to specialize in ophthalmology after working as an environmental researcher at DuPont, where he helped develop gas permeable contact lenses. For more than 40 years, he practiced ophthalmology in Salisbury, where he revolutionized the standard of care, founding the Peninsula Eye Center and the Azar Eye Institute. He was active in civic, philanthropic and professional organizations.

Gerald Barrax A&S ’69G, December 2019, age 86, of Raleigh, North Carolina. A widely acclaimed poet and emeritus professor of creative writing at North Carolina State University, he received numerous awards and honors throughout his life, including the North Carolina Award for Literature. He is a member of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, and his 1992 collection of poetry, “Leaning Against the Sun” (University of Arkansas Press), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.

Steven C. Beering A&S ’54, MED ’58, HON ’98, April 2020, age 87, of Carmel, Indiana. He graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School and then attended Pitt, where he met his wife. He served as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Medical Corps for 12 years, during which time he treated President Eisenhower and NASA’s first space program astronauts. In academia, he became dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine and subsequently took on the role of Purdue University president. He was a member of Pitt’s Board of Trustees.

Ann Marie (Miller) Brown EDUC ’72, October 2019, age 68, of Wolfsburg, Pennsylvania. An educator who was known for putting her students first, she taught elementary school at the Falk Laboratory School while at Pitt and in the Bedford County school system. She also served as a grievance coordinator; chairperson for the Junior Catholic Daughters; codirector of the children’s choir at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Bedford; and a founding member and officer of the Catholic Daughters at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Everett, Pennsylvania.

Oliver W. Byrd BUS ’74G, December 2019, age 70, of Pittsburgh. Prior to his 35-year career at Mellon Bank’s Pittsburgh headquarters, where he held several leadership roles, he worked at the NASA Electronics Research Center and IBM’s Public Sector Office. His contributions to the community included serving as chairman and a board member for multiple organizations, including the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, the mayor’s Private Industry Council and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Mamie H. Wadkins Clemons EDUC ’55, December 2019, age 102, of Pittsburgh. Throughout her long career as an educator, she worked for Pittsburgh schools from the elementary level to the university level. She was the first Black member of Pitt’s Heinz Chapel Choir. She possessed a passion for prayer ministry, serving as a prayer leader, Bible worker, Sabbath-school teacher and ordained elder at Hillcrest Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Edward T. Connolly ENGR ’59, September 2019, age 90, of Manassas, Virginia. After serving in the Army during the Korean War, he worked with defense contractors as an electrical engineer and later became senior executive vice president of Electronic Warfare Associates Inc. He held an executive business management graduate degree from Harvard University. He was an avid ice skater and Washington Capitals fan, a member of the Manassas Host Lions Club, a charter member of the Manassas Men’s Club, and an active parishioner of All Saints Catholic Church.

Kevin Paul Connolly A&S ’68, November 2019, age 75, of Alexandria, Virginia. An attorney and writer, he served as chief of the Criminal Division for the Northern District of Ohio before beginning his 42-year career as a federal prosecutor for the Department of Justice. He was recognized with a number of law enforcement and Department of Justice awards, including the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Award of Honor.

Frank D. Gabrin A&S ’81, March 2020, age 60, of New York City. A native of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, he earned a degree in chemistry from Pitt. He then attended the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps in New York City. A two-time cancer survivor, he was a fervent believer in the importance of compassion in medical and caregiving fields. He became ill after treating COVID-19 patients and was one of the first emergency room doctors in the United States to die of the disease.

Marjorie Ann Henningsen EDUC ’00G, July 2019, age 54, of Beirut, Lebanon. A scholar generous with her time and talent, she was a passionate professional developer, advisor, mentor, educator, consultant, lecturer and all-around educational innovator. In 2007, she helped found and served as the head of the Wellspring Learning Community, a nonsectarian, private international school in Beirut, and she spoke at international conferences in the United States, Middle East, Africa and Asia, including TEDxBeirut in 2011.

Mahmoud Jibril A&S ’80G, ’85G, April 2020, age 67. A native of Libya, he studied political science as a graduate student at Pitt, where he later taught for several years. He played an integral role in the development and administration of leadership training programs throughout the Arab world. After serving under Muammar Gaddafi, he was appointed head of the interim government that sought to oust the Gaddafi regime, an appointment he held until October 2011. A firm supporter of democracy, he was a member of Libya’s National Forces Alliance party, in which he most recently served as president.

Stephen Louis Kondis A&S ’51, DEN ’53, March 2020, age 91, of Verona, Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Munhall, Pennsylvania, he served in the U.S. Army in Japan and Korea before attending Pitt, where he later served as an assistant professor in the School of Dental Medicine. Over the years, he practiced dental medicine in the formerly named South Hills Health System and in private practice. A member of numerous professional, civic and religious organizations, he was an amateur photographer, avid golfer and Pitt supporter.

John Kristofic A&S ’70, September 2019, age 71, of Pittsburgh. After graduating from Pitt, he earned a degree from Temple University’s school of medicine. He maintained a medical practice in the Pittsburgh area for decades and volunteered locally and overseas through Catholic Charities, Operation Safety Net and Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. He was a supporter of Pitt Athletics and loved skiing, biking, traveling and spending time with his family.

Anthony Daniel Mazzocco EDUC ’48, ’54G, August 2019, age 96, of Pittsburgh. He was an accomplished amateur boxer and as a high school student won the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph Diamond Belt Novice Title for his division in 1940. In the U.S. Army during WWII in France, he served as an athletic specialist technician. A longtime educator, he was a teacher, coach and guidance counselor in Baldwin-Whitehall School District and at St. Bernard School in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Julianne McAdoo CGS ’98, A&S ’03G, November 2019, age 70, of Pittsburgh. A longtime employee at Bell Telephone Company (later Verizon), she took evening classes at Pitt to earn her bachelor’s degree and earned her master’s degree after retirement. She later worked at Pitt as a writing teacher. Creative, with a diverse skill set, she was a talented cook, gardener and quilter. She also loved traveling, reading and being a gracious host for family, friends and everyone in between.

Dorothy Elaine Nestel EDUC ’63, March 2020, age 77, of Louisville, Ohio. Born in Pittsburgh, she graduated from Swissvale High School and then Pitt, where she studied math and German education. She was a substitute teacher in Ohio’s Stark and Jefferson counties for many years. Her community service included being chair of the Louisville Tree Board, a den mother for Boy Scouts of America, a Girl Scouts leader and an active member of Zion Lutheran Church.

William Paul O’Connor Jr. A&S ’79, BUS ’00G, March 2015, age 61, of Pittsburgh. The original drummer for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Blondie, he was a lifelong musician, first inspired by his grandfather, who was also a drummer. He played with Blondie from 1974 to 1975 before leaving the band to continue his education. After receiving degrees from Pitt and Duquesne University, he worked as a chemist at Neville Chemical for more than 20 years.

Robert W. Swaim BUS ’60, December 2019, age 82, of Cape Canaveral, Florida. At Pitt, he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. After graduation, he served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he rose to the rank of captain. He earned an MBA from Pepperdine University and a PhD from Claremont Graduate University. He published the book “The Strategic Drucker: Growth Strategies and Marketing Insights from the Works of Peter Drucker”; the management scholar was Swaim’s colleague and friend.

Ronald J. Taddeo MED ’62, October 2019, age 85, of Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Born in Cleveland, he spent his surgical career at Lake Hospital System from 1969 until retirement. He belonged to 15 professional societies, including the Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Cleveland Medical Arts Club and the Lake County Historical Society. He received numerous honors throughout his life, such as being named Lake Hospital’s Physician of the Year, Americans of Italian Heritage Person of the Year and a lifetime honorary member of the Lake County Association of Chiefs of Police.

Kim Thodt BUS ’95G, December 2019, of Hendersonville, North Carolina. She was a financial services professional who specialized in aiding clients from college to retirement.

H. Jean Wilkinson A&S ’62G, October 2019, age 89, of Acton, Massachusetts, formerly of Schenectady, New York. Born in Toronto, she received her bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University, master’s degree from Duke University and PhD from Pitt. She was an associate professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, where she later led the Psychology Advisement Center. She held board positions for many community organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the National Board of Aquatic Sports and the United States Synchronized Swimming Association.

Rodney Bruce Wolfarth A&S ’70, ’72G, January 2020, age 71, of Rockford, Michigan. A forensic scientist, he worked at the State of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services and at the Michigan State Police Crime Laboratory. He taught as an adjunct professor of forensic science at Grand Valley State University for 23 years. Later in his career, he worked for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services until retiring in 2013. He enjoyed spending time with his family and cheering on Pittsburgh sports teams.