Many notable people passed in 2013


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The list of notable local people who died in 2013 ranges from world-renowned doctors to athletes, from political and religious leaders to those whose impact was limited to their little corner of the world.

Here's a recap of those we lost:

Bruce Dixon

Perhaps his immediate successor as head of the Allegheny County Health Department, Ronald Voorhees, described Bruce Dixon (Nov. 3, 1938-Feb. 20, 2013) best when he said his former boss was "a leader and really was a very committed, very gifted and bright physician who really cared about providing good service to the people of the county."

Dixon headed the health department for 20 years until his removal in June 2012 after policy disagreements with county Executive Rich Fitzgerald. He had reluctantly accepted the position from the late county Commissioner Tom Foerster in 1992 after teaching for 17 years at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.

Dixon was known publicly for his crewcut and frequent media appearances to discuss public health issues, but he also regularly visited HIV clinics and provided free care to indigent patients behind the scenes.

His longtime friend and former county coroner, Cyril Wecht, said Dixon was "nationally recognized but was totally unpretentious, not a grandstander."

"I think people will remember Bruce as a dedicated public servant who provided very important medical expertise and never sought any ... personal recognition and had no agenda of his own."

Other notables in medicine who died were Thomas E. Allen, 93, who died Jan. 26 and was called the "moral founder" of both the local American Civil Liberties Union and Women's Health Center; Ronald Herberman (Dec. 26, 1940-June 2, 2013), founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; and George Magovern (Nov. 77, 1923-Nov. 4, 2013), a pioneer of open heart and transplant surgery.

Stan Musial

A Donora native nicknamed "Stan the Man," Stan Musial (Nov. 20, 1920-Jan. 19, 2013) was a Hall of Fame baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals who led the team to three World Series victories while winning three Most Valuable Player awards and seven batting championships.

Here's how Paul Warburton described Musial's hitting approach in the Baseball Research Journal in 2001:

"A lefty, he dug in with his left foot on the back line of the batter's box, and assumed a closed stance with his right foot about 12 inches in front of his left. He took three or four practice swings and followed up with a silly-looking hula wiggle to help him relax. He crouched, stirring his bat like a weapon in a low, slow-moving arc away from his body. As the pitcher let loose his fling, The Man would quick cock his bat in a steady position and twist his body away from the pitcher so that he was concentrating at his adversary's delivery out of the corner of his deadly keen eyes. He would then uncoil with an explosion of power. His line drives were bullets."

Other notable local sports figures who died this year were L.C. Greenwood (Sept. 8, 1946-Sept. 29, 2013), defensive end for the Steelers who won four Super Bowls as part of the Steel Curtain defensive line; Jack Butler (Nov. 12, 1927-May 11, 2013), a Hall of Fame cornerback for the Steelers who formed the national BLESTO scouting combine after a knee injury ended his playing career; Chuck Muncie, a Uniontown native who died at age 60 on May 14 after being a star NFL running back with the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers; Simmie Hill (Nov. 14, 1946-July 14, 2013), one of the stars of the undefeated 1965 Midland High School basketball team who went on to be a college All-American and play professionally for four years; and Joe Natoli (Nov. 18, 1927-Nov. 13, 2013), hugely successful coach of the Morningside Bulldogs football team for youngsters 11-13 years old and longtime director of parks for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

Michelle Madoff-Scheske

During her career as an activist for clean air and a member of Pittsburgh City Council, Michelle Madoff-Scheske was anything but shy and retiring.

She first drew lightning rods of attention when she took on local industry as a founder and leader of the Group Against Smog and Pollution. She used that notoriety to win a seat on city council for 15 years beginning in 1978.

Her fiery, in-your-face style put off some colleagues but resulted in many victories.

"I remember her as a woman of courage," said Jeanne Clark, another activist who worked with her. "When she believed something needed to be done, she just did it, regardless of what people said about her."

Other notable political figures who died in 2013 were former Gov. William Scranton (July 19, 1917-July 28, 2013), a moderate Republican who served from 1963-67 and made a brief run for president; former U.S. Rep. William Coyne (Aug. 24, 1936-Nov. 3, 2013), a former Pittsburgh City Council member who served in Congress for 22 years until 2003 and was known for his quiet, behind-the-scenes work for his district; John H. Bingler Jr. (June 4, 1938-Oct. 30, 2013), an attorney who served as public safety director in Pittsburgh and as a volunteer on boards for the Civil Service Commission, Citizens Police Review Board, Negro Educational Emergency Drive and Allegheny County Bar Association.

Other notables who died in 2013 were:

Ora Lee Carroll (Aug. 3, 1941-Jan. 25, 2013), a founder of the East Liberty Concerned Citizens Corp. to combat drug gangs and better the lives of neighborhood children

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Lancaster (Aug. 15, 1949-April 24, 2013), who was the first black chief judge in Western Pennsylvania

Daniel A. Pietragallo Sr., who served 12 years as head of the Pittsburgh Housing Authority ending in 1989; Bishop Anthony Bosco, who died July 2 at age 85 after 17 years heading the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg

Michael J. Wargo (Sept. 14, 1951-Aug. 4, 2013), a Clairton native who served as chief exploration scientist for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission

Barbara Shore (Nov. 26, 1920-Oct. 23, 2013), a passionate social worker and distinguished service professor in Pitt's School of Social Work who devoted herself to many women's and children's issues

Joanne Boyle (Oct. 27, 1925-Nov. 1, 2013), who in 26 years as president at Seton Hill University transformed the Greensburg institution from a women's college into a coeducational university that helped revitalize the city

Jack Purcell (March 31, 1919-Dec. 6, 2013), a trombonist whose orchestra played 150 to 200 events a year for more than 50 years

James M. Ecker (Nov. 4, 1929-Dec. 25, 2013), a prominent defense attorney who worked closely with the Syria Shriners and also Variety the Children's Charity.


Ed Blazina: eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1270.


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