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Profiles

A Friend in Need

Eleanor Ott grew up in a family that encouraged her to pursue her passion in life. What that passion was didn’t become clear until after she left her Lawrence, Kan. home as a high school valedictorian with a college scholarship. She discovered it among refugee families from Iraq, Burundi, Somalia and other desperate lands whose …

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Word Brains

No two games of Scrabble are ever the same. But when the Pittsburgh Scrabble Club convenes on Wednesday nights, there’s a scene that replays itself over and over again. “Someone will show up for the first time and say ‘I’m here because nobody in my family wants to play me. They’re all tired of me …

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Ron Freeman: Bringing Light to a Dark Science

Somewhere between Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, sometime between assertions that America does not torture and insistence that the end justified the means, I remembered what a Pittsburgh police officer once told me about the head of the city’s Major Crimes Division: “Everybody confesses to Ron Freeman.” I first met Freeman almost a decade ago. The …

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Robert Qualters, Artist

What’s it like to be 75? Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve had two knee replacements. I’ve had back surgery. I keep falling down and breaking things: my fingers, my skull. But overall I feel pretty good, actually. I still like to work. I just keep on going. I find some way to continue. My most …

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Westinghouse CEO: Aris Candris

Aris Candris is not what you might expect. He skis black diamonds and enjoys snorkeling, scuba and free diving. On any given Sunday, he’ll jump on his bike and ride the hills of western Pennsylvania with no particular plan in mind. A perfect evening must include a great cigar. He and his wife value the …

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Thelma Williams Lovette, Social Worker and Community Leader

I was born in Pittsburgh on Feb. 28, 1916, the fifth of 11 children. My family and I lived at 1520 Wylie Ave. in the Hill District. And we all looked out for each other. In 1925, when I was just a girl, Mama and Papa took us to the opening of the Centre Avenue …

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A Harvest Tale

America’s art, literature and popular culture are ripe with the story of Johnny Appleseed, the colorful eccentric who planted orchards to feed America’s pioneers. He is often linked  with legendary folk characters Paul Bunyan, Rip Van Winkle, the Headless Horseman and John Henry. The best-known literary work is Vachel Lindsay’s free-verse poem “In Praise of …

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Katherine MacCord: A Chance to Change the World

This fall, 23-year-old Katherine MacCord will begin her studies at England’s Cambridge University on the dime of Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates as the first University of Pittsburgh student to earn a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. While such an achievement suggests she followed an academic strategy carefully conceived before college or later, the path that …

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Against All Odds

Until the spring of 1944, Hungary’s pre-war population of 700,000 Jews remained largely unscathed. Hungarian Regent Nicholas Horthy had resisted Hitler’s calls for the deportation of Hungarian Jews into the killing maw at Auschwitz/Birkenau, 175 miles north of Budapest. Then, on March 19, 1944 Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht to occupy Hungary. By July, 437,000 Hungarian …

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Mission of Mercy

When UPMC health systems purchased Mercy Hospital last year, the future of one of Pittsburgh’s most historic institutions became assured just as new questions arose. With the sale, the Sisters of Mercy received a sum that, after expenses, totaled $88 million. With their 160-year affiliation with the hospital ending, members of the order asked themselves how they …

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Barbara Luderowski, The Mattress Factory

I arrived in Pittsburgh about the same time that Columbus arrived in America. Actually, it was in 1972, or thereabouts. I was driving through, hustling my work, and stopped at Pittsburgh History & Landmarks to try to interest them in a garden I wanted to design for them. That didn’t work out. But they gave …

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Jack Perkowski, ASIMCO Technologies

Like so many others in the Pittsburgh area, my grandparents on both sides emigrated from Poland to the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Think about the journey they made. They were going to a place about which they knew nothing. They didn’t know the language. It must have been very …

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Mark Roosevelt, Superintendent

My interest in educational reform started when I was in the legislature in Massachusetts. I was lucky enough, as a young legislator, to be offered the chairmanship of the Education Committee. The Speaker of the House brought me in and said, “I want you to look at how Massachusetts funds and runs its public schools …

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Family is Everything

As part of our city’s 250 celebration, organizers encouraged Pittsburghers to hold family reunions and bring people to Pittsburgh to showcase “America’s Most Livable City.” And so,I followed suit, inviting my family to come to the Heinz History Center in June for a family reunion. Admittedly, there’s nothing as boring as someone else’s family. Yet …

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Manfred Honeck, Music Director

I came to Pittsburgh in 2006 originally just to be a guest conductor for the symphony orchestra. I didn’t know at the time that they were looking for a music director. I really had no idea about it. When I arrived at the Pittsburgh airport, I noticed something that stayed with me. Two nuns were …

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Riverlife CEO: Lisa Schroeder

For people who know about such things, Martin Millspaugh is legend. A former Washington, D.C., journalist who specialized in covering housing and urban development issues, Millspaugh was one of the early movers behind the renewal of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For some 20 years, he chaired a public-private corporation in his hometown that managed the $7 …

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The Path to Leadership

We have all heard more times than we can count how Pittsburgh can be its own worst enemy; how we as a region defeat ourselves through low self-esteem and low expectations, and how we just need to start believing in ourselves again. Perhaps we should not be so quick to judge our community for struggling …

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Paul O’Neill (1935–2020)

Facts and knowledge have always been important to me, in government and in business. I believe that it is my duty to either know the answers or to know where to get the answers fast if an important decision must be made. I first entered government when John Kennedy was president, and I was there …

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Tech Council CEO: Audrey Russo

You can take a New Yorker out of New York, but not, to measure by new Pittsburgh Technology. With a beguiling feistiness and enough self-confidence to fill up a hotel ballroom at a Tech Council Breakfast Briefing, the Nassau County native has set ambitious goals for the 25-year-old, 1,400 companies member trade association. She rattles …

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Head of the class

Ben Gordon sits in his sparse office, with its bright fluorescents, the textbooks on the shelf, the dry-erase board smudged with equations and graphs. He is talking thermodynamics right now and how power plants are really “just huge engines,” but just a few minutes ago, he was talking about the guys he once called friends …

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Randy Pausch: The Expert in Time

Thirteen years ago, a young assistant professor at the University of Virginia shared his time management techniques with graduate teaching assistants and fellow faculty members. They all wanted to get ahead—get tenure—and still have time for their friends and family. Peppered with aphorisms, the talk would have made Ben Franklin proud. It wasn’t the work …

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Consol CEO: J. Brett Harvey

If you find yourself driving east across Pennsylvania on I-80 and want to take a detour to the mining industry’s grim past, consider taking the tour at the Lackawanna Mine near Scranton. First opened in the 1860s and active until 1966, the sprawling underground maze of tunnels gives sobering insight into the wrenching conditions miners faced. …

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