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Save for two obituaries, the loss of two giants of local economic development went largely unnoticed last week. The deaths of Duquesne University's Ron Morris ("Driven Entrepreneur and Popular Radio Host," June 9) and NEED's Sylvester Pace ("Helped Disadvantaged Youth Achieve Dreams Via Education," June 10) will make a resurgence in Pittsburgh's economy a little harder to achieve. Both men keenly understood that the education of our young people is paramount to a vibrant local economy.
While the only things that Mr. Morris and Mr. Pace really shared were humble beginnings as well as a keen sartorial inclination, both men prepared thousands of young people in our area for the harsh realities of adulthood.
Mr. Morris was a larger-than-life serial entrepreneur who created and led the Entrepreneurial Studies Program at Duquesne University as well as hosted a national radio broadcast called "The American Entrepreneur." He was a staunch conservative who espoused the mantra of unbridled free enterprise as he inspired thousands of young people to start their own businesses.
Mr. Pace was an elegantly quiet man who spent the majority of his career in public service. Education enabled him to pull himself from poverty to become a successful businessman and civic leader. Since 2001, he led a successful minority-focused tuition aid organization founded as the Negro Educational Emergency Drive, now simply known as NEED. He helped thousands of underprivileged students achieve essential college degrees. He was as progressive as Mr. Morris was conservative and devoted his life to achieving social justice for young and old alike.
In a lot of ways, this town seems to find its inspiration in man-children whose stick-and-ball heroics take place on the fields of play. For a moment, let us appreciate the heroism of two men who were committed to helping young people compete in the serious game of life. Their work should be etched into the pantheon.
Godspeed, gentlemen. Godspeed.
First Published June 16, 2012 12:00 am