What Do I Know?

Dick Thornburgh, Lawyer and Politician

I’ve had three distinct phases of my career—from public prosecutor to elected official to Washington lawyer—and, strangely, they all came about serendipitously. I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to Yale as an engineering student, even though I was not really suited for it. A number of my family members were engineers, so I explored …

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Thaddeus Mosley, Sculptor

Art is about personal expression. Anyone who discovers and practices this has something to live for other than what they have to do to make a living. People who write poetry don’t make a lot of money, but seeing their words on the page provides more satisfaction than any job could offer. It’s the same …

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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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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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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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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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Robert F. Vagt, The Heinz Endowments

I can’t look at my career path and, with a straight face, tell anyone that it was the result of a plan. I was born in Delaware. My folks split up, and then my mother and I moved to Connecticut in the years before I went to college. My grandfather was a Presbyterian minister. My mom …

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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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Abraham J. Twerski, Psychiatrist and Rabbi

I was born in Milwaukee where my father was a rabbi. Two of my brothers were six and eight years older than I and were off to yeshiva when I was about 7. My younger brothers weren’t born until I was 8. So I was a lonely child. Not only didn’t I have siblings with …

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Rich Engler, Music Promoter and Entrepreneur

I was born in New Kensington, Pa., and grew up in Creighton, across the river. My father was a glass worker at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. My mother worked for the county. I studied art education at Youngstown State, then at Carnegie Mellon. I was also playing in a band and began to see …

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Jeanne Pearlman, Philanthropy Executive

I was raised in Squirrel Hill. It was a close-knit community that valued ideas and intellectual activities. For my parents, dinnertime was not only about eating. It was also about talking, thinking and challenging. Any opinion expressed had to be countered with another opinion. My father would always ask, “Why do you think that?” This …

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Nathan Davis, Music Educator, Performer, Composer

Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, are twin cities, with nightclubs and great musicians in both places. The only thing that separates the two cities is a bridge. I grew up playing saxophone in Kansas City, Kansas, and went to the University of Kansas as a music education major. One night, a friend and …

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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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Astro Teller, Entrepreneur and Author

I’m an entrepreneur, the CEO of a company. That takes up a lot of my time. But I love playing with my kids, doing things with friends and getting exercise. I’ve also found that I need artistic stimulation to exercise the other part of my brain. That’s one of the reasons I write. It helps …

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Andy Russell, Businessman and Former Steeler

I grew up with a father who had come over on the boat from Scotland. We moved around a lot. My parents convinced me that every move presented an opportunity to meet new and different people. By the time I entered college in 1959, my father was running Monsanto in Europe.I got a B.S. in …

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