Franklin, Cosetti, Mann, Robinson, Hillebrand, Eide
Don Franklin, 82: A renowned Baroque musicologist, Franklin was professor of music, emeritus, at the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as chair twice from 1970 until his retirement in 2009. A Willmar, Minn. native, he was the youngest trumpet player to play taps at the Willmar Cemetery and was a gifted pianist who earned a Ph.D. from Stanford. Franklin was an accomplished performer and conductor and upon arriving at Pitt, led the Heinz Chapel Choir, expanding its repertoire and leading its first international tour. He co-founded “Bach and the Baroque,” a popular concert series which ran for 16 years, was president of the American Bach Society, and a founding editor for Bach Perspectives.
Judge Joseph Cosetti, 92: Cosetti worked as an economist for both US Steel and J&L Steel before becoming city treasurer under Mayor Peter Flaherty from 1970 to 1977. He instituted numerous austerity measures, including reducing the city hall staff by 100 and other city positions, many of which were patronage jobs, by 2,000. He ran for mayor after Flaherty, becoming a Republican at the last minute, but lost to independent Richard Caliguiri. Cosetti went on to serve 14 years as a judge in US Bankruptcy Court but his finest hour was as a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention in 1968. Fellow delegate James Michener, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, called Cosetti one of the most influential members. “It was a revelation to me to see Joe operate,” he said.
Bishop Loran Mann, 74: In 1969, Loran Mann founded the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ in East Liberty and eventually became its bishop. The congregation grew from an initial 19 people to several hundred families and in 1991, Mann constructed and dedicated a $1.2 million sanctuary. But Mann also worked in broadcasting for 21 years and spent 20 of them as a newscaster with WPXI. After leaving the station in 1996, he started radio station WGBN-AM, Pittsburgh’s first 24-hour gospel station. His church began with tent revivals, and Mann was an exceptional preacher, singer and musician who loved the pipe organ in his church and was respected throughout the local faith community.
Ardelle Robinson, 71: An early member of the Kuntu Writers’ Workshop and Repertory Theatre and the Homewood Poetry Forum, Robinson was a contemporary of August Wilson. He often visited her home along with another friend, John Edgar Wideman. An educator, journalist, artist, photographer and poet, Robinson was also an entrepreneur who owned Designs by Vivienne. She served as lifestyle editor at the New Pittsburgh Courier and hosted a talk show called “Talk Tyme” on the Pittsburgh Community Television network, conducting one of the last interviews with Sammy Davis Jr. She traveled extensively, including to Kenya, and lived in Honolulu for seven years, where she earned a degree in social work from the University of Hawaii.
Jill Fisher Hillebrand, 76: She had the messy job of hand-breading 250 pounds of raw fish every Thursday during Lent at St. Anne’s annual fish fry in Castle Shannon and shared her culinary talents with her family, friends and many clients at Meals on Wheels, where she volunteered every Wednesday and Thursday. Hillebrand met her husband, Don, when he was an appliance repairman and helped him start Don’s Appliances. Her mother was skeptical of the concept, but today there are 10 stores. She also worked as a bookkeeper for her father while raising five sons, all of whom work in the business.
Greg Eide, 69: He was headed for Duquesne School of Law when he decided to sell some of the duplicate comic books he’d collected since he was a kid. When Eide opened Pittsburgh’s First Comix and Sci-Fi Shop in Etna, the idea was to pay his tuition, but soon he forgot about school and for 50 years ran Eide’s Entertainment, a mecca for comics, records, videos, toys and other collectibles. In 1976, he moved to Federal Street, where Eide’s Comix and Science Fiction Shop became a popular destination. He moved again 10 years later to Penn Avenue and expanded to three floors, employing a host of punk and metal musicians. His knowledge of pop culture and 1950s, 1960s and 1970s music was immeasurable and his stores connected musicians and comic geeks even as it gave them a livelihood.