Rooney, Clarke, Habegger, Miller, Thornburgh, Gale, Robinson
Patricia Rooney, 88: Married to the late Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney for 65 years and one of four matriarchs of longstanding NFL families, Mrs. Rooney combined her love of family with a commitment to many causes, especially in the North Side neighborhood where she grew up and lived until her death. The mother of nine was active in numerous charities. She was a stalwart support for her husband, accompanying him to Ireland when he became the U.S. ambassador and to decades of football games.
Edmund Clarke, 75: A professor emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University, Mr. Clarke was awarded the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in computer science for his work in model checking, an automated method for detecting design errors in computer hardware and software. He developed model checking with two colleagues and helped to improve the reliability of complex computer chips, systems and networks. For their work, the Association for Computing Machinery gave the scientists the prestigious A.M. Turing Award in 2007.
Robert “Snakeguy” Habegger, 60: Boa Derek, a Brazilian rainbow boa constrictor, was one of three snakes Mr. Habegger carried around with him when he sold his Just Right Spice line at farmers markets. He would drape the boa on willing customers, determined to share his love of the reptiles. A fixture in his beloved Sharpsburg, he built, installed and emptied filament receptacles and played a pivotal role in organizing cleanup days in the borough, including the popular Etna-Sharpsburg Earth Day Challenge, which will be named in his honor. Mr. Habegger was a founding member of the Sharpsburg Environmental Advisory Council and volunteered with Bike Pittsburgh, Venture Outdoors and Friends of North Park.
David Young Miller, 73: A professor and dean at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Mr. Miller founded the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT), an intergovernmental co-op between the City of Pittsburgh and its 37 surrounding municipalities. He was also managing director at the Pennsylvania Economy League and served as a budget chief in the administration of former Mayor Tom Murphy. Mr. Miller had overseen financial recovery efforts in Wilkinsburg, Duquesne, Braddock, Clairton and Scranton, Pa. and helped to create the Allegheny County Regional Asset District.
Richard Thornburgh, 88: Dick Thornburgh was a two-term Republican governor of Pennsylvania who went on to become attorney general of the United States. A Pittsburgh native, he was a far cry from the politicians of today—a disciplined and moderate public servant known for integrity, respect for others and finding practical solutions. After serving as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, he was elected governor of Pennsylvania, successfully handling the Three-Mile Island nuclear disaster shortly after taking office in 1979. In 1960, when he was a young man, his wife Ginny was killed in a car accident that caused a severe brain injury to one of his three young sons. He and his second wife, also named Ginny, became advocates for disabled people and Thornburgh helped craft the Americans with Disabilities Act when he was attorney general.
Robert Lee Gale, 100: His body of work, 68 books written over the decades, included critical biographies of Mark Twain, Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne as well as Mickey Spillane and Louis L’Amour. The bibliophile and American literature professor at Pitt was prolific until the very end, still writing at 100. He graduated third in his class of 444 from Dartmouth and enlisted in the Army Air Forces, serving as a counterintelligence officer in Europe and North Africa during World War II. He earned a master’s and doctorate at Columbia University after the war and also taught at universities in Naples and Helsinki as a Fulbright scholar.
Jean Robinson, 86: For 40 years, Mrs. Robinson cared for the dying as a Forbes Hospice volunteer and when it was her turn, gracefully helped her family to say farewell. She was that way: selfless, generous and quietly giving to so many. The mother of three spent five decades in the service of the city she adopted when she married Frank Brooks Robinson in 1956. She was active on boards and as a volunteer for the Buhl Foundation, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Children’s Hospital, Pittsburgh Promise and most especially Calvary Church. Named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, she was a recipient of the Jefferson Award for Community Service.