Notable Deaths in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania in 2021


Take a look back at some notable people from the Pittsburgh area the world lost in 2021.

Joanne Rogers, concert duo pianist and wife of the late Fred Rogers

“She wasn’t going into the limelight, but she was very happy to respond to the national and global interest in what Fred was offering to the world,” said Hedda Sharapan, consultant for Fred Rogers Productions and senior fellow at the Fred Rogers Center. by Latrobe. “She gave the world another idea of ​​who Fred was through her humor and humorous stories about him.”

Rogers died Jan. 14 at her Squirrel Hill home. She was 92 years old.

She became the face of her husband’s legacy after his death in 2003, supporting books and documentaries on news programs and late-night talk shows. She provided vocals for some of the characters on Fred’s first television show, “The Children’s Corner” of Pittsburgh, a precursor to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”, where she made a few appearances as Mrs. Rogers.

Charles Grodin, actor and writer born in Pittsburgh

A native of Highland Park, Grodin rose to fame for his role in the 1972 comedy “The Heartbreak Kid,” in which he played a newlywed who abandoned his honeymoon fiancee for Cybill Shepherd.

Grodin died on May 18 in his Connecticut home after a battle with bone marrow cancer. He was 86 years old.

Grodin appeared in a series of notable films starting in the 1970s, including “Midnight Run”, “The Woman in Red” and “Heaven Can Wait”. On Broadway, he starred with Ellen Burstyn in the longtime 1970s comedy “Same Time, Next Year”.

Henry Parham, a member of the only all-black unit in the D-Day invasion

Parham was a member of the 320th All-Black Ultra-Low-Level Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only black combat unit to take part in the D-Day invasion and the only Barrage Balloon Battalion to land on the beaches.

He died on July 4 at the VA Hospital in Oakland. He was 99 years old and lived in Wilkinsburg.

Parham’s battalion ended up serving 140 days in France, including a stint in Cherbourg to protect General George Patton’s Third Army. A commendation from the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, cited the 320th for the “splendid manner” in which he discharged his duties.

Tunch Ilkin, former Steelers tackle and sports presenter

Ilkin, who lived in Upper St. Clair, spent four decades with the Steelers, first as a player for 13 years and later as a broadcast analyst.

He was diagnosed with ALS in September 2020. He finished the season and walked away from the booth to focus on his health in June. He died on September 4 at the age of 63.

“It was always a joy to be around him,” broadcast partner Bill Hillgrove said. “Tunch has always been positive. As an analyst he always knew what to look for, he knew which clashes would be good or bad for the Steelers. It was fun to be fair with the guy.

Renowned orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine pioneer Dr Freddie Fu

Fu founded the UPMC Sports Medicine Program and served as a physician for Pitt’s sports teams for about 30 years. He was long chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and developed techniques and procedures that changed the way these surgeries were performed.

Fu, 70, died on September 24.

“When people found out where I worked, they would share delightful stories about Dr. Fu,” orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon Dr. Robin West said at a memorial service. “He didn’t care if you were a sports star, a coal miner or a politician – he treated everyone the same.”

Howard Hanna Jr., real estate mogul in Pittsburgh

Howard Hanna Jr., the man behind the green and yellow signs, started what would become a one-office real estate empire in 1957. At the time of his death nearly 70 years later, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services was the fourth in the country. largest real estate company.

Hanna died on September 25 at the age of 101.

“Pittsburgh has lost a business pioneer and civic leader,” Allegheny County Director Rich Fitzgerald said at the time. “Howard Hanna started small and through hard work he changed the real estate industry. “

Bill Virdon, Pirates center fielder in the 1960 World Series team

Virdon, nicknamed “Quail” by broadcaster Bob Prince for his penchant for hitting hits in the infield, was the lead hitter and Gold Glove center fielder for the 1960 World Series Pirates champion team. went on to lead four major league teams.

Virdon died on November 23. He was 90 years old.

He’s best known for his 1960 World Series Game 7 ground player who took a bad jump and hit Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat late in the eighth inning. Virdon reached it safely, then scored on Roberto Clemente’s single inside the field. Hal Smith followed with a three-run homerun to give the Pirates a 9-7 lead, setting the stage for Bill Mazeroski’s homerun to win the world championship.

Megan Guza is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .


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