2007 Winter

Cooper, Schafer, Tobias, Wobb, Johnson, Joyner, Harper, Thrift, Fischer, Schloss

Dr. William M. Cooper, 87: William Cooper possessed tremendous medical knowledge, superior diagnostic skills and a compassionate manner that helped many patients and Greater Pittsburgh alike. The hematologist was also an innovator, helping to form the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh and serving as its first medical director. He served as medical director of the …

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The Perfect Snow

I’m both amused and dismayed by media weatherspeak. I’m amused by the hyperbole of Storm Watcher Central and Severe Weather Tracker.  You’ve seen the flashing alerts across the screen. The messengers and their moving maps presume to provide detailed information absolutely needed to save family and property from harm in the face of imminent and sure …

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Zehr, Towey, Malkin, Rebholz, Wenzel, Latta, Walker, Busch

Dr. Kenton Zehr is chief of the division of cardiac surgery and professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and associate director of UPMC’s Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute.  He earned his undergraduate degree from Eastern Mennonite University and his medical degree from Penn State’s College of Medicine.Dr. Zehr performed …

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A Different Kind of Hunt

The Christmas hunt was long a holiday tradition. Armed with rifles and shotguns, Christmas guests would choose teams for a “side hunt” and fan out over field, woodland and riverbank. Winners bagged the largest number of birds. In 1900, a new tradition began in response to America’s nascent conservation movement. Birds would remain the quarry, …

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Tom Vilsack: From Pittsburgh to President

The remarkable story of Tom Vilsack began in a Pittsburgh orphanage where Dolly and Bud Vilsack adopted him. He grew up in Squirrel Hill and graduated from Shady Side Academy and later Hamilton College and Albany Law School. In 1998, he upset a heavily favored Republican opponent to become the first Democratic governor of Iowa …

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Reading Between the Lines

In September, Block Communications announced that if it’s unable to reach satisfactory agreements with its unions by Dec. 31, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette may be sold. News outlets reported it as a provocative salvo in stalled negotiations, but it would be a mistake to view the release as posturing. Several facts shed light on the situation …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Winter 2007

Mayor Tom Murphy used to decry the lack of risk-tolerant Pittsburgh developers willing to invest in the city. In Damian Soffer, the city found the perfect partner. Together, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Soffer turned blight into beauty and created the dynamic Southside Works. The URA bought and remediated the land, and Soffer brought the …

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Joseph A. Hardy III, Entrepreneur and Civic Leader

Money. That’s your scorecard. Absolutely. But anyone who is financially successful is so because of the contributions of many people. I don’t say that because I’m a good guy. I say that because it’s true. Years ago, this kid of about 16 started working for us. I saw that he was bright. He had depth, …

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Call Them Crazy

Tony Modzelewski can’t explain why he jumped off the Fort Pitt Bridge in January 1975, but modern psychology has him covered. Modzelewski was 17 years old, celebrating the Steelers’ first Super Bowl victory, and the group of revelers he was with decided to walk across the bridge. “I don’t know how we got started. There were …

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Death cycle

In 2004, the region’s two largest hospital systems sought to redraw the map of Pennsylvania. Although their hospitals, clinics and headquarters all sit in and around Allegheny County, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and West Penn Allegheny Health System asked Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, to identify them as a …

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Wine tips from the Heinz-Kerry cellar

With her easy tact and predisposition to agree, she might be a diplomat or a counselor—if it weren’t for the one-liners that slip out, almost as if they’re sneaking up on her, and the highly contagious laughs that follow. She should be laughing. Diane Martz, 43, in black jeans, tennis shoes and zero makeup, is …

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Song of Weirton

We talk about living in the Tri-State Area, figuratively. The “we” in Weirton live in it literally. My waitress at Mario’s Italian Restaurant on Main Street is a fine example: She’s wearing a black-and-gold, No. 7 Roethlisberger jersey as she serves up the boss’s home-and-handmade spaghetti, while a poster behind her proudly announces Dean Martin …

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Fire & Ice Festival, Laurel Highlands Model Railroad Club

For those who enjoy the kinship, shopping and food at community celebrations, summer brings the mother lode with its county fairs, pie eating contests, town carnivals, cotton candy and dunk tanks. Fall brings harvest celebrations with apple cider, pumpkin picking, hayrides and candy apples. Even March and April have their Friday fish fries at churches …

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Pipe Dream

It’s Saturday night at Oakland’s Sphinx Café. To the right, inside the cavernous, old church, musicians chat with the owner about an upcoming gig. On the left, sipping tea, a trio of men joke in Arabic. In the rest of the dim interior, small groups cluster around low tables, resting on brightly colored pillows. They …

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The Lay of the Land

Have you ever stopped to ponder to what extent anatomy — or more correctly, topography — is destiny in the historical development and popular perception of Pittsburgh? Martin Aurand has. In an ambitious, new publication from the University of Pittsburgh Press titled “The Spectator and the Topographical City,” he endeavors to explain how three of …

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From the Outside In

Pittsburgh has always left vivid impressions on the mind of the outsider. For some reason, however, visiting writers have been less kind to Pittsburgh than visiting artists. Over 20 years ago, flying to this city for the first time, I was reading a 1927 essay by H.L. Mencken, describing his view of Western Pennsylvania from …

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The Real George

The blood splatters on the lawn would wash away with the next rain, but Mary and I knew the crimson stains on the tree trunk would be there a long time. The most jarring moments came when we encountered the body on the floor, head half shot away. His name was Trevor, and he lay …

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Which Came First?

It is almost invisible now, a ghost of a building squatting in the shade of looming hemlocks at the edge of the highway. Though it’s now rundown and overgrown, the brooding brilliance of the place endures. You still can see its crisp, horizontal lines formed by the distinctive, rough-hewn rocks, laid by hand three-quarters of …

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Let’s Solve the Region’s Fiscal Strain

Very much in the news these days are the related subjects of unfunded pension liabilities and escalating costs of employee benefit packages because of rising health care costs. They are delivering a one-two punch to local governments and school districts throughout the nation, with the situation being particularly acute here in the old industrial heartland. …

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It’s Pay Dirt

Graham Hatfull, Ph.D., is clearly pleased when presented with a film canister brimming with soil dug from a Penn Hills back yard. Common, every day dirt. An odd gift, to be sure, but one often suggested to anyone meeting the head of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biological Sciences for the first time. “Beautiful,” …

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Steel City vs. Silicon Valley

In 1890, when my great-grandfather returned from San Francisco to take over the family farm on Shady Side’s Ellsworth Avenue, the value of Allegheny County real estate ranked sixth in the country. With its river connections, access to coal and access to Wall Street, Pittsburgh was becoming America’s most vital manufacturing center. Entrepreneurs such as …

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The Life of an Ex-CEO

Leaving a job after 10 or 15 years is more like mourning the loss of a close friend than it is a career change. Think about it. You spend 20 years of your life sleeping, five years going the bathroom and 80 percent of what’s left working. So your job is a big part of …

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