Pitt Magazine

In memoriam, spring 2024

A red ornamental door

Joan “Bunny” Harmon Alexander A&S ’66G, January 2024, age 83, of Richmond, Virginia. She was the oldest child in her family and often acted as a surrogate mother to her younger siblings. As time passed, she also took on the role of family historian. She was a graduate of Douglas Freeman High School in Richmond and received a master’s in speech pathology from Pitt. Her husband was in the U.S. Air Force, and they traveled a great deal. She worked for 25 years at RSVP, where she helped veterans return to work. Known for her loyalty, dedication and sense of humor, she was loved by all who knew her. She is survived by two sons, two grandchildren, a brother and three sisters.

Charles “Charlie” Anderson A&S ’62G, January 2024, age 90, of Iowa City. He was born in a farmhouse near Little Sioux, Iowa, and graduated from Blencoe High School, where he was valedictorian of his class of 12 students. In his Chevrolet convertible, he headed to the University of Nebraska. He served eight years in the U.S. Army Ready Reserve and completed six months of active duty before being honorably discharged as a first lieutenant in the military police. After graduating from the University of Nebraska with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in audiology, he came to Pitt for his PhD. He met the woman who would become his wife after taking a position at Purdue University. The couple was married in Youngstown, Ohio, and then moved to Iowa City, where he joined the faculty at the University of Iowa and held various teaching and leadership positions over the years. His many volunteer activities included work with the Iowa Department of Health Conservation of Hearing Committee, the Iowa School for the Deaf Advisory Committee, the Iowa City Chapter of Self Help for the Hard of Hearing and the Iowa Speech-Language-Hearing Association. He was a founder of the Iowa Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation and was a member and fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the American Academy of Audiology, the Academy of Rehabilitation Audiology and the Acoustical Society of America. As a retiree, he was a docent at the University of Iowa Museum of Art for more than a decade and was deeply involved with the University of Iowa Retirees Association, among other organizations. He is survived by a daughter, daughter-in-law and grandson.

Mineko “Minnie” Sasahara Avery LAW ’77, February 2024, age 97, of Boston, formerly of Pittsburgh. She was born and raised in California. During the 1940s, she was interned, along with other Japanese Americans, at the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona. As a high school student, she helped to host Eleanor Roosevelt on an official visit. She studied piano at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and, after graduating, taught music at Bradford College in Massachusetts. She performed five times as a piano soloist with the Boston Pops. She and her husband moved to Pittsburgh, where she completed a master’s degree in musicology and piano at Carnegie Mellon University, along with a law degree from Pitt. She worked as a public interest lawyer at Neighborhood Legal Services and Legal Aid for Children (now known as Kidsvoice). In 1988, Pittsburgh Magazine named her one of its Pittsburghers of the Year for her legal work. She is survived by a brother, two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Eugene A. Bolt EDUC ’72G, November 2023, age 86, of O’Hara Township, Pennsylvania. He was a graduate of Plum Township High School and Slippery Rock University. He went on to earn a master’s in education from Duquesne University, a second master’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and, finally, a Ph.D. in education from the University of Pittsburgh. He taught math at East Deer-Frazer High School and Fox Chapel Area High School and served as an assistant principal at Fox Chapel. He also served as high school principal and superintendent at Brentwood School District. In addition to his work, he was president of the Pennsylvania Association of Secondary School Principals and a long-time member of St. Edward Catholic Church in Blawnox, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife, two children and two grandchildren.

Lee Earl Cavanaugh UPJ ’73, KGSB ’79, January 2023, age 72, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and was a graduate of Westmont Hilltop High School. As an undergraduate at Pitt, he studied history and political science. Later, he graduated from the Katz Graduate School of Business with an MBA. Working in health care management and tax preparation, he eventually discovered a love of financial advising and became the founder and president of Financial Freedom Innovations, Ltd. He was passionate about Pittsburgh sports, history, politics, music, traveling and, most of all, family. A proud “pappy,” he attended all of his grandchildren’s sporting events, dance recitals and concerts.

Lisa Ann Conboy PHARM ’77, December 2023, age 69 of Palmyra, Virginia. She received her degrees in pharmacy from Gannon University and the University of Pittsburgh before beginning her pharmacy career at Alloway Pharmacy in Erie, Pennsylvania. After relocating to Charlottesville, Virginia, she worked at the University of Virginia and Martha Jefferson Hospital. In her spare time, she volunteered at various organizations, including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and recorded books for the blind. She also enjoyed hiking, completing 730 miles of the Appalachian Trail. She is survived by four siblings and many nieces and nephews.

Amil A. DiPadova ENGR ’55, KGSB ’79, November 2023, age 90, of Delmont, Pennsylvania. A lifelong resident of Delmont, he earned two degrees from Pitt before eventually becoming the corporate director of operations for Rockwell International. He was a member of St. John Baptist de La Salle Church in Delmont and a strong supporter of Saint Vincent Seminary. He got great pleasure from life’s simple moments, including watching sports, going out to dinner and spending time with family. He is survived by his wife, daughter, three grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and a sister.

Zola P. Horovitz PHARM ’55, ’58G, ’60G, January 2024, of Pittsburgh; Princeton, New Jersey; and Boca Raton, Florida. He attended Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, where he was elected to the school's Hall of Fame in 2010. He then received three degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and was named a distinguished alumnus in 1983. In 1959, he joined the Squibb Institute for Medical Research as a fellow and, later, as a senior investigator. As director of pharmacology research, he formed and led the team of world-renowned scientists who discovered angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, commonly known as ACE inhibitors. The team also helped to develop the first orally effective, widely prescribed drug used in treating hypertension, heart failure and some forms of diabetes, for which they received The American Heart Association Discovery Award. He later held the positions of associate director of research and development and vice president of development, licensing and business development at Bristol-Meyers Squibb, where he was involved in the development of anti-cancer and diabetes drugs. After retiring, he continued working as a consultant and served on the boards of numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies He also held visiting professorships at the University of Pittsburgh, Princeton University and Rutgers University. He is survived by his wife, two children and six grandchildren.

LaVonne Johnson GSPIA ’80, November 2023, age 91, of Marco Island, Florida. She grew up in Lake Lillian, Minnesota, where she met her husband, Glen. Together, they founded and operated the Lake Lillian Crier newspaper. Later, they managed and expanded the Johnson Family Farm, founded in 1862 and part of Minnesota’s Century Farm program. The two went on to live in Reston, Virginia, as well as Pittsburgh, where she earned a master’s degree from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She and her husband supported the school philanthropically, and the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership is named in their honor. They retired to Marco Island and were involved with community organizations such as the Marco Island Center for the Arts, Marco Island Historical Society and The Marco Players community theater.

Robert Edward Lane A&S ’54, February 2024, age 93, of Almont, Michigan. Born in Pittsburgh, he dropped out of high school at 16 so that he could support his family by working full time at a local steel mill. After receiving his GED, he attended Pitt and went on to study osteopathic medicine at Des Moines University. He earned a certification in internal medicine from the American Osteopathic Association Board of Internal Medicine and established a medical practice in Almont, where he was the sole doctor for more than six decades. Known for his adventurous spirit, he was a recreational pilot who owned his own plane. He is survived by his wife, two children and eight grandchildren.

Diane Powell-Larché A&S ’80, January 2024, age 65, of Atlanta. Originally from Philadelphia, she attended Olney High School, where she was a cheerleader, treasurer of the Student Association, secretary of the English Honor Society and member of the Black Student League. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Pitt and, later, a certificate in publishing from Howard University. Early in her career, she worked as a reporter for the New Pittsburgh Courier and as a communications specialist for the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission. In 1999, after moving to Atlanta, she founded Larché Communications LLC., a full-service public relations, marketing and advertising firm that worked with dozens of high-profile clients, including HBO, Ford, Burger King and the National Urban League. She served as the company’s president and CEO and was known as a tour de force in Atlanta’s media landscape, contributing to publications such as the Atlanta Daily World, the Atlanta Tribune and the Atlanta Inquirer. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., founding president of the Greater Atlanta Section of the National Council of Negro Women, vice president of Community Outreach for the Junior League of Atlanta and board member of the League of Women Voters of Atlanta. She is survived by her husband, a brother, an aunt, many nieces and nephews, stepchildren and a host of friends and colleagues.

Lee Blaise Lewand ENGR ’86, KGSB ’97, June 2021, age 57, of Pittsburgh. He attended Greensburg Central Catholic High School in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, before moving to Pittsburgh for college. After graduating from Pitt with degrees in civil engineering and business, he worked for several large Pittsburgh construction firms until opening his own construction consulting business in 2004. Lee was active in his church and with his kids’ sports, coaching 26 seasons of soccer, softball, basketball and lacrosse. He loved attending Pitt sporting events, traveling throughout the United States and Caribbean and introducing people to others with similar interests and goals. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie (NURS ‘87), and four children.

David Waldron Pearson MED ’69, January 2023, age 87, of Warwick, Rhode Island. He enjoyed a long, fulfilling career as an adolescent and family psychiatrist. He is survived by his wife, three children and four grandchildren.

Ralph Proctor Jr. A&S ’65, ’79G, February 2024, age 85, of Pittsburgh. He grew up on Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a PhD in history from Pitt, he was a teacher and later became assistant dean of Pitt’s Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, a position he held from 1968 to 1973. He was a professor of ethnic and diversity studies at the Community College of Allegheny County and went on to serve as the chair of the program. A nationally recognized collector of African art, he donated part of his collection to Pitt’s African Heritage Classroom Committee. He published three books, the most recent was “Song of the Hill: Life, Love, Legacy.”

Regina Rinderer A&S ’64, December 2023, age 79, of Saginaw, Michigan. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Pitt, she earned a PhD from Ohio State University and a Master of Religious Education from the Catholic University of America. She was a professor of English at Delta College from 1989 to 2011. With a passion for learning, she explored different careers and volunteer activities. A devoted Catholic, she was active in the Catholic community in Saginaw and held ministry roles such as lector and catechist. Her other hobbies included ballroom dancing, reading and creative writing.

Joan M. Krayniewski Smith ENGR ’58, April 2023, age 85, of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The only woman in her class in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, she was the third recorded woman to graduate from Pitt with a degree in chemical engineering. After graduation, she worked as a research engineer for St. Joe Lead Company. In addition to being a wife and mother, she was active in the community and was the head coach of the community swim team for 10 years. She served as president of the Pitt Alumni Association and the University of Pittsburgh Engineering Alumni Association, and she was on Pitt’s Board of Trustees from 1982 to 1996. She was also president of the Beaver Valley Golden Panthers and treasurer of the Pittsburgh Golden Panthers. Until her passing, she was the treasurer of two Ocean Village boards at her home in Florida. She and her husband were avid football and basketball fans, and they were season ticket holders for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pitt Panthers. She is survived by five children and ten grandchildren.

Lauren Erickson Van Wart A&S ’02, December 2023, age 44, of Lowell, Massachusetts. Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Massachusetts, she graduated from the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a high school for academically accelerated juniors and seniors. She was named a Chancellor Scholar at Pitt, where she studied mathematics, English literature and economics. After graduating, she began her career as a classroom educator then spent nearly two decades working in educational publishing. For the past nine years, she worked at Curriculum Associates, where her colleagues praised her mathematics lessons as engaging and accessible for all students. She also served as a coach for a team of students in the Western Massachusetts American Regions Mathematics League. She was an avid runner and loved being outdoors with her husband and their dog. She is survived by her husband and her mother.

John Warden III A&S ’80, April 2023, age 64, of Atlanta, formerly of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Growing up in Harrisburg, he played baseball for Susquehanna Township. At Pitt, he studied business and accounting and was a brother of Zeta Beta Tau. Succeeding in business, he ran Warden Asphalt Company for 35 years. He was a board member of the Pennsylvania Asphalt Paving Association and the Dauphin County Historical Society, and he supported many philanthropic causes, including Whitaker Center and the Fund for the Future, the latter of which he established. A loving father, he raised two daughters in Harrisburg and, in recent years, shared a life with his partner and her children in Atlanta. He was passionate about the Philadelphia Phillies, all Pittsburgh sports, the Rolling Stones, U.S. history and golfing.