Mary Kay Akerman published academic articles and approached her cooking in a similarly scholarly manner.
As the managing editor of The Journal of Economic Literature, she worked with economists to review scholarly works while at the same time respectfully prodding them to get their articles in on time.
The dinners that came out of her kitchen also were the work of a researcher's passion, pulling from her large collection of cookbooks.
Ms. Akerman died Aug. 9 at her home in Collier. She had thought she had the flu and was going to go to see a doctor but died before she could get there. She was 53.
Her sister, Carol Cortese of Knoxville, Tenn., said the cause of death is awaiting the results of an autopsy.
Her friends and family have spent the last week in shock over the death of a woman who, despite being just 4 feet, 10 inches, had a huge impact on those around her.
Ms. Akerman spent her early childhood in Wilkins. Later her family moved south for her father's work before coming back to Scott. She graduated from Chartiers Valley High School, earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Seton Hill College and a master's degree in economics from Penn State University.
For 25 years, she worked for the American Economic Association, rising to the rank of managing editor of the journal. She was also very involved in the Catholic Alumni Club.
In both her professional and personal lives, she was kind and detail-oriented.
"I know people frequently complimented her on how well she handled articles and how quickly she turned them around," said Dawn Wallhausen, who worked for Ms. Akerman as her assistant managing editor and is now acting managing editor. "She was very kind and very respectful."
Her attention to detail carried over into her personal life, as she researched not just recipes for the food she would serve to friends and family, but the stories and cultures behind the cuisine.
In addition to her sister she is survived by two brothers, Ronald G. Akerman of Americus, Ga., and Kenneth Akerman of Columbus, Ga.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Little Sisters of the Poor, 1028 Benton Ave., Pittsburgh 15212.
Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Laughlin Memorial Chapel, Mt. Lebanon.
Ann Belser: email@example.com or 412-263-1699.