Anthony A. Sallo, who spent most of the past four decades assisting students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools as a psychologist, died Thursday in his Edgewood home. He was 69.
Mr. Sallo was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998. It rarely slowed him down in ensuing years, however, as he kept up his professional work through the end of last year in addition to myriad physical activities, especially skiing and tennis.
As an educational psychologist, he spent time in virtually every city school at one time or another since the early 1970s assessing students for the gifted program or for disabilities that would require a special educational plan. He would meet with students, parents, teachers and social workers to map out the best strategies, and he was known for doing so with compassion, humor and optimism.
"He enjoyed the children and loved what he did, and it was evident every day he came in, smiling and happy," said Mary Jane Conley, a longtime friend who was also his supervisor as the city schools executive director of special education. "He was probably one of the most pleasant people you ever met in your life and had a way of making parents feel comfortable."
When Mr. Sallo retired about five years ago from his regular work, Ms. Conley employed him as a contractor to assess students for special needs who were Pittsburgh residents but attended nonpublic schools, such as those run by the Catholic diocese.
The Pittsburgh Public Schools are required by the government to perform those assessments, and it only broadened the number of teachers and staff who knew and liked Mr. Sallo from his work in dozens of schools. His first educational work had been as a math teacher while pursuing his post-graduate studies.
"We couldn't go out to the movies without someone always coming up to say hi to him," considering the wide reach of his work during four decades, said his wife, Barbara.
After growing up in a large Italian family in Rankin, the St. Anselm's altar boy and high school graduate obtained an undergraduate degree in education and graduate degree in psychology at Duquesne University. He was part of a close-knit group of fraternity brothers of Italian descent, belonging to Alpha Phi Delta, who remained close ever since.
Rex Gatto of Mt. Lebanon, who was mentored by Mr. Sallo at Duquesne and became a psychologist himself, said his friend had a calming and straightforward manner that inspired trust from others.
"You knew that whatever he said he would do, he would follow through on," Mr. Gatto said. "He would look you straight in the eye, whether to tell you he loved you or what you did wrong, and he did it in the manner of the most loyal, caring person I ever met."
Trim and athletic throughout his life, Mr. Sallo was a black-diamond skier passionate about the sport, whether at Seven Springs or on the various trips he and his wife took to the Rockies or the Alps for more challenging runs.
He was an excellent tennis player who served on the board of the Edgewood Club, where he often played close to his home. He also served on the board of Edgewood's C.C. Mellor Memorial Library, which is located at the club.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Anthony Sallo III of Swissvale and John Joseph Sallo of Edgewood.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today and Sunday at Thomas L. Nied Funeral Home, 7441 Washington St., Swissvale.
A Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday in Madonna del Castello Roman Catholic Church, 2021 S. Braddock Ave., Swissvale.
Gary Rotstein: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1255.