In Memoriam

by John Conroy

The In Memoriam was originally featured in our School of Education News magazine.

The following faculty and alumni passed away between February 2014 and May 2015.

Andy J. Benedict (BS ’83) died on January 26, 2015, at the age of 92. Born January 1, 1923, in Detroit, Mich., he was the son of the late Andy and Katherine V. Benedict. A veteran of World War II, Benedict was active in the community, serving as an umpire for the Robinson Township Boys Baseball League, an officer and member of the Robinson Township Water Authority, and head of the Bishop Canevin High School fundraising project for Holy Trinity Parish. After spending 60 years in the graphic arts trade, he finished his career teaching graphic arts at the high school level in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and at the Parkway West Area Technical School, from which he retired in 1988. Benedict is survived by his wife, Dorothy; his sons, Andy, John, Michael, George, and Jon; four grandchildren; and six great grandchildren.

Nancy Ellen Curry (MEd ’56, PhD ’72) died on January 10, 2015. She taught at the University of Pittsburgh for 35 years and retired as professor emerita. She also held joint appointments in the Schools of Education, Medicine, and Health and Related Professions (now the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences). A licensed psychologist, Curry was a well-known educator in the areas of academic administration, teaching, and scholarship in early child care and education, with a special focus on play and its developmental benefits. Curry was born on January 26, 1931, to George R. and Mary Covert Curry in Brockway, Pa. She is survived by her sister, Barbara Curry Aikman, of Brookville, Pa., along with 12 nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren. She was preceded in death by three sisters.
Mary Eckman (MEd ’48), of Mt. Lebanon, Pa., died on March 12, 2014. Eckman was a teacher at Brentwood High School and then later at Our Lady of Grace School in Pittsburgh. She was the organist at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and a member of Southminster Presbyterian Church. Eckman was preceded in death by her husband, Alexander P. Eckman. She is survived by her son, Alexander L. Eckman; her sister, Doris Trimble; her grandchildren, Mary Ann and Alexandra Lynn Eckman; and nieces and nephews.

Charles Gorman (EdD ’67) died on May 7, 2015. In 1994, he received the School of Education’s Distinguished Educator Award. He also was part of Pitt’s Tri-State Area School Study Council. Gorman retired in 2006 with the title of associate professor emeritus in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies. He was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Patricia, and his parents, Charles and Mae Gorman. Gorman was the father of Charles E. Gorman and James Gorman and grandfather of Molly and Sarah. Also surviving Gorman are his sisters, Naomi and JoAnn; his brother, John; and nieces and nephews.

Raymond Hummel, professor emeritus, died on March 16, 2015, at the age of 93. Hummel began college in 1939 at Baruch College of the City University of New York, where he studied until joining the military in 1942 during World War II. He was discharged in February 1946, at which time he immediately entered Columbia University, from which he graduated with a PhD in counseling psychology. He was an assistant professor at Harvard University for seven years and then became an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, from which he retired in 1993 at the age of 70. Born on August 13, 1921, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Hummel was the son of the late Joseph and Elizabeth Hummel, husband of Suzanne Hummel, father of Mark Hummel and Christopher Hummel, stepfather of Nina Larsen, grandfather of Lia Larsen Charles, and brother of Gerard Hummel. Hummel most recently resided in Bethel Park, Pa.

Francis Rifugiato (BA ’50, MEd ’51) died on September 27, 2014, at the age of 89. Rifugiato served with the U.S. Army’s 12th Armored Division in England, France, and Germany during World War II. He served as a teacher and vice principal at the former Schenley High School; principal at Pittsburgh Perry High School; and, for 21 years, director of curriculum for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. He also traveled the country with the Hal McIntyre Orchestra as a musician. He was a longtime member of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees and the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America. Rifugiato was husband for 63 years to Rosemary Campo Rifugiato; father of Francis Rifugiato, David Rifugiato, Gina Siegwart, and Lynne Young; brother of Cornelius Rifugiato; grandfather of 10; and great-grandfather of two. He was preceded in death by two brothers and three sisters.

Richard Seckinger, professor emeritus, died on February 10, 2014, at the age of 91. He served during World War II in Europe and played in the U.S. Army Band. Born on February 3, 1923, in McKeesport, Pa., to the late Edward and Miriam Seckinger, Seckinger started his career at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and returned to Pittsburgh in 1960 as a professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, where he taught for 33 years until his retirement. Seckinger was a member of Calvary Episcopal Church, where he was a longtime participant in the choir, and he and his wife, Carol, spent the ma jority of their summers in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, Carol’s birthplace. Seckinger is survived by his wife of more than 45 years, Carol Seckinger; their children, Sarah Charron, John, and David Ryan; and their grandchildren, Nathaniel and Hannah Charron. He also is survived by his son, Karl; his granddaughter, Briana; his great-grandson, Brian; his brother, Henry; and nieces and nephews.

J. Matthew Simon died on May 20, 2015, at the age of 73. He began his career as a chemistry faculty member at what is now Point Park University, of which he ultimately became president, a position he held from 1986 to 1995. In his first year after leaving the presidency, he took a sabbatical and became a visiting scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies for a year. He then returned to Point Park, where he served as a distinguished professor in its Department of Natural Sciences and Engineering Technology, and also served as an adjunct instructor in the Pitt School of Education. Simon retired in 2007. He also was a member of the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority selected by the state to approve city budgets. In addition to his wife, Janet, Simon is survived by two sons, Jacob Simon of Pittsburgh and Edward Simon of Bethlehem, Pa.

Albert C. Van Dusen, professor emeritus, died on December 18, 2014, at his residence at Friendship Village of South Hills in Upper St. Clair, Pa. After serving as a U.S. Navy officer during World War II, Van Dusen began his academic career at Northwestern University in 1944, eventually rising to become a vice president of the university. In 1957, he was recruited to Pitt by Chancellor Edward Litchfield, and he later served as assistant chancellor for planning and development, assistant vice chancellor for professional schools and for program development and public affairs, and secretary of the University Board of Trustees. Van Dusen also was a member of a number of community and nonprofit boards, including those of WQED Multimedia; Duquesne University; the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania; the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh; ACTION- Housing, Inc.; the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh; and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Van Dusen is survived by his wife, Margaret, and his daughters, Margaret Van Dusen Pysh of Arizona, Jane Van Dusen of Oregon, and Sara Van Dusen of California.