In Memoriam

by John Conroy

The In Memoriam was originally featured in our fall 2016-winter 2017 School of Education News magazine.

The following faculty, staff, and alumni passed away between May 2015 and June 2016.

LaTonya Renae Batteaste (MEd ’07), a former basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh who became a teacher and coach in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, died May 14, 2015, of colon cancer. She was 38. Batteaste worked as a teacher at Clayton Academy on the North Side; Pittsburgh Grandview K–5; Pittsburgh Faison K–5; and, later, Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy 6–12. Batteaste also served as an assistant coach for the girl’s basketball team at Pittsburgh Westinghouse and passed on her basketball knowledge to a younger generation.

David Champagne (EdD ’68), a University of Pittsburgh professor emeritus, of Pittsburgh, passed away at the Bluff in Rexford on March 17, 2016. Born in Port Henry, N.Y., on May 26, 1935, he was the son of Alvin and Gertrude Masterson Champagne. He taught high school in New York State and Nigeria and college and postgraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh and the University at Albany, State University of New York. He authored several books about teaching.

Joan Clark (BS ’76, MEd ’77, PhD ’86), age 82, of Pittsburgh, passed away on April 8, 2016, at her home, surrounded by her family.

Denis Donegan, 84, of Pittsburgh, passed away at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C., with his wife, Donna, by his side. He is survived by his son, Stuart Donegan (Heidy) of Hong Kong and his daughter, Jennifer Donegan (Matt Kendall), of Syracuse, N.Y. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Donegan grew up in both New York and Germany. After serving in the military in various capacities, he settled in Syracuse to attend Syracuse University and graduate with a PhD from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He worked as a psychologist in Chenango County, N.Y., developing early childhood programs for various elementary schools and writing grant proposals for funding many of the programs in addition to having a private practice. He relocated to Pittsburgh to join the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh in a dual capacity; he was both a full-time professor in the School of Education and the associate director of the Overseas Study Program, developed to provide educators with an opportunity to study in London and Somerset, England; the then Soviet Union; and Greece. During his tenure at the University of Pittsburgh, he also was a visiting professor at City University London and Dillington House in Somerset, England, and coauthored a book on education in the Soviet Union.

Freda Ellis (MEd ’01) died on August 30, 2015, at Forbes Hospice in West Penn Hospital. She was 74. She grew up in the Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh that would become the setting for many of the plays written by her brother, the late August Wilson. She attended Fordham University in New York, where she majored in English, and later earned a master’s degree in education at the University of Pittsburgh. Ellis was a tireless advocate for her younger brother, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. She never missed a Broadway opening of his plays and led tours of the Hill District neighborhood that was the setting for many of them. She played a role in helping to secure a grant from McAuley Ministries that was given to the Daisy Wilson Artist Community to preserve Wilson’s boyhood home. Ellis was an educator, who taught computer technology classes, typing, English, and writing at the former Computer Tech and then Carlow Hill College (part of what is now Carlow University) and the Community College of Allegheny County, where she spent three decades teaching and doing administrative work before retiring in 2012.

Helen S. Faison (BS ’46, MEd ’55, PhD ’75) died on July 16, 2015, at the age of 91. After graduating from college, she worked for the Allegheny County Board of Assistance as a caseworker. In 1950, the Pittsburgh Public Schools hired her to teach at the now closed Fifth Avenue High School in the Hill District. A decade later, she became the district’s first African American high school guidance counselor, then its first female and first African American principal when she took over at Fifth Avenue High in 1968, followed by stints as assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent. Faison retired in 1993 and served as a visiting professor in the education department of what is now Chatham University. She returned to the Pittsburgh Public Schools in 1999 to serve a year as interim superintendent—becoming the first African American leader of Pittsburgh’s public school system. Faison served on the Pitt Board of Trustees, including as an emeritus trustee. The University honored her as a Legacy Laureate and with the Pitt African American Alumni Council’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 1993, Pitt established the Helen S. Faison Scholarship in the School of Education. In 2006, Pitt named the first fully endowed chair in the School of Education in her honor. Through her estate, Faison established the Helen S. Faison Scholarship Fund to provide scholarship support to African American students in the School of Education.

Susan Hicks (MA ’05), age 34, of Pittsburgh, died on October 23, 2015. Hicks was the assistant director for academic affairs at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Russian and East European Studies. She graduated from Woodbridge Senior High School in Virginia in 1999 as the class valedictorian. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh in anthropology and English literature in 2003 and a master’s degree in administrative and policy studies in 2005. In 2011, she received a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of British Columbia. Hicks was the beloved daughter of Stephen and Julia Hicks of Woodbridge, Va., and sister of Brian Hicks of Washington, D.C.; Michael Hicks of Oxford, Ohio; and David Hicks of Arlington, Va. Hicks was the recipient of the 2016 School of Education Early Career Award.

Andrew Raymond Hughey (MEd ’67, PhD ’73), former associate professor and executive committee member at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and recipient of the school’s 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award, passed away on May 23, 2016. He was born July 18, 1938, in Pittsburgh, the second of three children born to Andrew Alexander and Dorothy May Alberta (Goines) Hughey. From 1986 until his retirement in 2012, Hughey was a professor of education at San Jose State University, where he served as graduate coordinator of counselor education. He was the author of multiple books; articles; and research grants, including his landmark $14 million GEAR-UP grant, which was designed to increase student entry and success in college. It involved five California school districts, 16 middle schools, eight high schools, and a staff of more than 80 professionals.

Dianne Buczynski Kasten (BS ’71), 68, of Waldorf, Md., died on April 30, 2016, in Arlington, Va. Kasten was a library media specialist for 35 years with the Prince George’s County (Md.) Board of Education. She taught elementary school in Annandale, Va., from 1971 to 1973 and then in Prince George’s County from 1974 to 2012. She was nominated for Prince George’s Teacher of the Year in 2010 and was the winner of the My Favorite Teacher Award in 2011. She was the daughter of Henry Buczynski and Sophie Gaca Buczynski.

Staff member Michael D. McDermott, 55, died on January 25, 2016. He spent his entire career at Pitt, beginning as an intern at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in 1985. From 2001 to 2004, he was a staff member in the School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, rising from research associate on a National Institutes of Health grant to systems analyst, database manager, and finally systems programmer in the Obesity/Nutrition Research Center and the behavioral weight control program. In 2004, he was hired by John Jakicic, director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center in the School of Education’s Department of Health and Physical Activity, as systems and data manager, handling databases and computer networking.

Harold L. North (MEd ’55), 86, of Carlisle, Pa., died June 1, 2015, at Carlisle Regional Medical Center. He was born on October 16, 1928, in Burnham, Pa., to the late James E. and Lavenia McVaugh North and was the widower of Phyllis VanArt North, who died in March 2002. North was superintendent of the Carlisle Area School District from 1976 until his retirement in 1985. He came to Carlisle in 1957 as assistant principal of the senior high school and was elected the first assistant superintendent of the school system in 1965. Prior to coming to Carlisle, he began his professional career as a chemistry and physics teacher and high school counselor in Tyrone, Pa. North was a member of several local, state, and national professional organizations.

Masahiro Okamoto (MEd ’07) passed away at his apartment in Pittsburgh on September 20, 2015. Okamoto had recently completed his course work in the PhD degree program in social and comparative analysis in education and was working on his dissertation. He also was a graduate student assistant in the School of Education’s Technology and Media Services Department. He first came to Pitt in 2005 and completed his master’s degree in social studies education in 2007.

Ralph Peabody, age 88, of Cranberry Township, Pa., died on May 23, 2016. He was born to Viola (Hanna) and Ford Peabody of Birmingham, Mich., on January 30, 1928. His education included high school in Birmingham, a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Wayne State University. Following two years in the U.S. Army, he married Delores “Del” M. Stevenson on July 4, 1954. Peabody and his wife started the first preschool exclusively for blind children in a public school in River Rouge, Mich. In 1963, Peabody started the professional preparation of teachers of individuals with visual impairments at the University of Pittsburgh. He led the program until the late 1980s.

Anthony Pizzuto (MEd ’74, PhD ’82) was born on October 11, 1929, and died on August 22, 2015, at his home in the Friendship/ Bloomfield area of Pittsburgh. He had lived in the house most of his 85 years. During his life, he worked in public relations, training and development, and proofreading at various companies, including the United Way, West Penn Power, and Calgon Carbon Corporation (from which he retired after 27 years). He also did editing for PPG Industries, Inc., and technical writing for small businesses. He sang in the Sacred Heart Parish choir for 40 years and later researched and wrote about the choir’s history. He served as a member of the parish council in earlier years.

Ruth Ann Scott Riethmuller (BA ’40, MEd ’42) of Shaler Township, Pa., passed away on January 16, 2016, on her 96th birthday.

Barbara Rosenzweig, a retired staff member in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, passed away on June 20, 2015.

Jimmy Scherrer (PhD ’13) passed away on August 17, 2015, at the age of 37. Scherrer grew up in Whitehall, Pa., and graduated from North Hills High School. He went on to Indiana University of Pennsylvania to study elementary education and eventually became a math teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Scherrer returned to Pittsburgh to earn his PhD in learning sciences and policy at Pitt. Most recently, he was an assistant professor in the College of Education at North Carolina State University.

Patricia Ruth Sims Westwater, 87, of McMurray, Pa., died on May 24, 2016. She was born July 3, 1928, in Waynesburg, Pa., a daughter of the late Stuart O. and Rachael Lewis Sims. On June 7, 1953, she married David G. Westwater, who survives. She attended Waynesburg University and was a 1950 graduate of California State Teachers College (now California University of Pennsylvania). Westwater started her teaching career in Peters Township, Pa., in 1951 and then took time off to start her family. In 1965, she resumed her career, teaching briefly at Borland Manor Elementary School in the Canon- McMillan School District before joining the Washington School District in 1967, where she taught at East Washington Grade School and Washington Elementary Educational Park (WEEP). After receiving her second master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Pittsburgh, she became a principal at WEEP and maintained that position until she retired in 1990.

George R. Wise (BS ’52), 86, of Fort Wayne, Ind., passed away on September 9, 2015, at Lutheran Life Villages. He was born on October 7, 1928, in Fayette County, Pa. He served honorably in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army. He was a member of Concordia Lutheran Church. He worked as an accountant at General Electric, retiring in 1989, and prepared taxes in his later years.

Kenneth G. Wissmann (MA ’72), 71, of Stephens City, Va., died on September 15, 2015, at his home. Wissmann was born September 19, 1943, in Brooklyn, N.Y., son of the late Raymond Wissmann and Alice Lipera Wissmann. He was an adjunct professor in the math department at Shenandoah University. He had previously worked as a school psychologist; a professor at Finger Lakes Community College in New York and Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Va.; for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.; and as chief of information services for Canandaigua VA Medical Center in Canandaigua, N.Y. He married Sally A. Robinson on August 7, 1965, in Hornell, N.Y.