Jeffrey Ackerman, 69
A founding partner of CBRE, Ackerman was an icon in the area’s commercial real estate industry for decades and served as CBRE’s managing director in Pittsburgh from 2013 to January. He was working at Arnheim & Neely in the 1990s when CB Commercial came looking for an existing brokerage firm to partner with. Thus was born CBRE, which has become the largest commercial real estate company in Pittsburgh. Ackerman was involved in the sale of some of downtown’s most prominent real estate including PPG Place, the former Westinghouse building, the Union Trust and the Frick Building. He was known as a man of integrity, intelligence and heart and a true gentleman in a hard business.
Fred Johnson, 80
Bassist Johnson put the ‘bomp’, ‘dang’ and ‘ding dong’ in Marcel’s 1961 hit ‘Blue Moon’ knocking Elvis off the top spot. The song was named by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock ‘n’ roll. The four Pittsburgh singers went on to record “Heartaches,” their second and final hit, but toured oldies in the 70s and 80s. Johnson’s famous opening riff was celebrated in Barry Mann’s new hit “Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)” and in the Johnny Cymbal hit “Mr. Bass Man.
Edouard Vidunas, 69 years old
He was a structural draftsman and bridge designer who worked on the reconstructions of the West End and Highland Park Bridges. He also completed the design drawings for the new Hulton Bridge over the Allegheny River. But the lifelong Anglophile – he made several trips to England each year to visit pubs – was renowned for his knowledge of beer, brewing and the history of Allegheny County breweries dating back to the 1700s. wrote this story between drafts at Fat Head or other local breweries, where he preferred his beer the British way, “at cellar temperature”. He started pittsburghbrewers.com in 2012 and also helped launch the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers.
Betty Davis, 77
She was briefly married in the 1960s to jazz legend Miles Davis, who said his ex-wife was “ahead of her time” and compared her to Prince. But the reclusive woman from Homestead, known to some as the queen of funk, was modest about her talent. Her 2019 song, “A Little Bit Hot Tonight,” was her first release in over 40 years. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, quickly turning to modeling while hanging out with Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone. Davis recorded his first song in 1964, and in 1967 the Chambers Brothers recorded it “Uptown (to Harlem)”. Davis has written for the Commodores and others in addition to releasing her own albums, including “Betty Davis”, with the Pointer Sisters as backup. She was the subject of a 2017 documentary “Betty – They Say I’m Different”.
Keith Herchenroether, 77
Herchenroether was a gifted painter, illustrator and photographer before becoming passionate about ceramics. He began teaching art in North Hills in 1966 and learned pottery in a three-week course. His handful of students grew rapidly, and within five years Herchenroether was teaching six pottery classes with 120 students each day. He opened the school’s art studio at 5:30 a.m. so children could work on projects, especially the unique ceramic bowls they made for Empty Bowls, an annual fundraiser to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Just Harvest. Beginning in the 1990s, he instructed students to make 10 a week – five to keep, five to give away – and through his efforts thousands were made for profit.
Peg Deiseroth, 95
Her father, Lee Dittley, was an accomplished painter and Deiseroth grew up with a love of art, music, reading and the fine cuisine of great chefs like Jacques Pépin. After raising her family and serving as a secretary for her husband’s trucking company, Deiseroth and her daughter-in-law founded the catering business Fluted Mushroom, now run by her son, Lee. She participated in the business until she was 70 years old. She spent her retirement traveling.