Wertz, Wilde, Zappala, Rosenberg, Rangos, Blasier

Ricki Wertz, 86: From 1959 to 1969 Wertz presented the popular children’s program “Ricki und Kupfer” on WTAE. Her co-host was a retriever mix who came from an animal shelter and was Wertz’s own pet, a wedding gift from her husband. She hosted “Junior High Quiz” on WTAE for the next 20 years and also worked for WQED to produce “The Chemical People” and other shows. The spirited Wertz from Wilkes-Barre won a scholarship for the Pittsburgh Playhouse. Her roommate there was Shirley Jones, and Wertz was given the job of accompanying the actress when she won an Oscar for “Elmer Gantry”.

Patricia Wilde, 93: She was a favorite of the famous choreographer George Balanchine, who created many roles for her with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and later with the New York City Ballet. Wilde’s 15-year tenure as a solo dancer in Balanchine’s company included 40 roles. She later taught and coached dancers at the Harkness Ballet, New York City Ballet, and American Ballet Theater. In 1982 she became Artistic Director of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, building its position in the dance world by adding more classical pieces to its repertoire, innovative new works, and local choreographers and composers. After her retirement in 1996, Wilde worked as a supporter for live music at the ballet. Wilde was a member of the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance.

Stephen Zappala Sr., 88: The former chairman of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was elected to the County’s Court of Common Pleas in 1979 and joined the state’s Supreme Court two years later. In 2001 he was appointed presiding judge. Zappala initiated and integrated the largest court automation system of its kind in the country by combining and automating the systems of the three state appeals courts. He graduated from Georgetown Law School, and after serving as First Lieutenant in the Army, he went into business for himself with his father and brother, part of a legal family dynasty that included his son, Allegheny District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. heard.

Jerry Rosenberg, 99: At 64, Rosenberg holds the record for longest tenure at the University of Pittsburgh. He came as a chemistry professor, became dean of the Faculty of Arts for 16 years, and instead of retiring, became Vice Probst and Chief Research Integrity Officer. As a member of the Manhattan Project and award-winning researcher, Rosenberg was instrumental in advancing Jewish causes, from the Israel Heritage Room in the Nationality Rooms to the establishment of a section for Jewish studies. He loved reading the Torah in the two synagogues he belonged to, played the violin, and was an avid reader who walked down Fifth Avenue to his office. At the age of 95, he beat his grandchildren in tennis.

John Rangos, 91: A philanthropist who never forgot the plight of growing up during the Depression, even after amassing a fortune in recycling and waste management companies. He made generous donations to education and medicine, and the Rangos name adorns a charitable foundation, scholarships, endowed chairs, a research center at the UPMC Children’s Hospital and the big screen at the Carnegie Science Center. He was a founding donor of the Rangos School of Health Sciences at Duquense University and most recently pledged a seven-figure donation to help build a new medical school. Rangos was also the founder and former chairman of the International Orthodox Christian Charities.

Stewart Cole Blasier, 96: The founder of the Pitt’s Center for Latin American Studies, Blasier, was a seminal scholar and veteran of the U.S. External Action Service with experience in Soviet and Latin American affairs. He has traveled to more than 75 countries and was fluent in Russian, German, Serbian, Spanish and French, with a little Polish. In Pitt, he recruited key faculty members and curated a library that now contains 380,000 volumes, mostly in Spanish and Portuguese, and is one of the largest in the country. Blasier wrote numerous books and essays and taught political science and international relations in Pitt until 1987 when he became head of the Hispanic Division of the US Latin Studies Library of Congress.

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