Flannery, Verrilla, Kudzma, Washowich, Spinabelli, Davis
Tom Flannery, 75: A former Dartmouth football and rugby player who was 6’4” and 230 pounds, Flannery blended an imposing physical presence with a warm, fun-loving personality to become the top headhunter in Pittsburgh. In his role leading the Pittsburgh office of international search firm Boyden, he placed key top executives at countless local corporations and nonprofits for the past 25 years. His early career included a 10-year white-collar stint with Gulf Oil followed by many years as the hands-on owner of a Gulf service station at Pittsburgh’s busiest residential intersection — Forbes and Murray avenues in Squirrel Hill. The breadth of experience gave Flannery a wonderful wit, a deep insight into people, a penchant for cutting through nonsense and a philosophical view of the world.
Mary Lois Fratangelo Verrilla, 85: Her trademarked name was “The Lady Who Paints Pittsburgh,” and that’s what she did, beginning as a teenager growing up in East Liberty. Her watercolors reflected the city and its history, from steel mills and bridges to the incline and streetcars. She painted all the local landmarks and loved immortalizing the older neighborhoods. She exhibited at every Three Rivers Arts Festival, but she also donated her talent to the American Heart Association and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, for whom she designed annual benefit holiday cards.
Bob Kudzma, 81: As KDKA-TV’s chief meteorologist, Kudzma infused his weather predictions with warmth and homespun humor. Beloved by both viewers and his colleagues at the station, he was known as a funny, fun-loving guy. Kudzma joined the Air Force and studied meteorology at Texas A&M University. While stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, he forecasted the weather for Air Force One before being reassigned to bombing raids and covert operations during the war in Vietnam. He retired as a captain and joined KDKA in 1968, remaining there for 34 years. Just because he loved doing it, he drove a Bethel Park school bus on the side until the pandemic struck last year.
Louis Washowich, 81: Controversial and colorful, Washowich served as mayor of McKeesport from 1980 to 1995 and as coach and president of a youth football organization for more than 30 years. During his four terms in office, the steel industry collapsed, causing the loss of 5,000 jobs and many businesses. Yet Washowich managed to keep McKeesport out of bankruptcy as he fought to make payroll and keep things running with 20 percent unemployment. Tough and determined, he never let politics get in the way of progress, even defying a judge who threatened to jail him over privatization of the city’s water authority.
Lodovico Spinabelli, 95: As a boy growing up in Italy before the war, Spinabelli was sent to fascist training camps complete with uniforms and pretend guns. He became so opposed to fascism that he joined the Italian resistance movement. After the war he became a deep sea diver looking for unexploded bombs off the coast of Genoa. His family raised pigs on a farm in Corsica, and the cured meats they sold there became the foundation for Parma Sausage in the Strip, a business Spinabelli started with his parents and brother in 1954, the year he immigrated to America.
Larry Davis, 74: Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work from 2001 to 2018 and founding director of its Center on Race and Social Problems, Davis spent his life encouraging discourse on race relations, civil rights and social justice in America. The center is routinely ranked among the top 10 of its kind in the country. After serving for three years with AmeriCorps VISTA, Davis became the first African American to earn a doctorate degree in social work and psychology at the University of Michigan. An extensively published researcher and scholar, Davis founded a journal, “Race and Social Problems,” and advocated tirelessly for a better understanding between police and the community.