Alumni Bulletin: 2005


Letter From The President

Dear Alumni Members,

I hope you are enjoying a happy and healthy early summer.

Again last year we had a very good turnout for our Alumni Reunion, but we still need to find more members. There are a number of graduates and former students who haven’t been active in the Alumni Association for many years and some who have never been involved since they left our school. If anyone knows where these people are, why not give them a call or let me know. Perhaps between us we can interest them in attending an Alumni event and reconnecting with old friends.

At our last convention we amended our Bylaws to read that Officers shall hold office for a term of four years instead of two. The following officers were elected for their first four-year terms: president, Joanna Berkovic; vice-president, Ted Crum; recording secretary, Georganna Caddy; corresponding secretary, Anna Rose Smith; treasurer, Tom Hesley; and parliamentarian, Kathy Susany. Bill Newland was elected our newest Board member. You can learn what two of our officers have been doing since graduation by reading their submissions which follow this letter.

For many years the Alumni Association has been using the School’s logo on it stationery. Last year, , however, both the School and the Alumni decided that we should have our own logo Following some discussion, the Board decided to use a picture of the School as it looked thirty years ago. The picture shows the former entrance to the School facing Bayard Street, including the circular driveway. It is basically the same picture that appears on the back of the playing cards that were sold by the Alumni, but better centered.

Our Fun Day this year will be held on Saturday, September 10, from 1 PM until 6 PM in the School’s new Early Childhood Center, located directly across Bellefield Avenue from the main entrance to the School. The address is 250 North Bellefield. We will have a catered lunch, door prizes, a 50-50 raffle, games and lots of time for just visiting. If you have a favorite game, why not bring it along? The cost for this event person is five dollars. Since the caterer needs to know beforehand how many to prepare for, you will not be able to pay at the door. So please send your check or money order made payable to WPSBCC Alumni to me no later than August 26. My address is:

Joanna Berkovic
375 N. Craig St.
Apt. #210
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

If you have any questions and wish to reach me by phone, my number is (412) 683-1798.

Hope to see you in September.

Joanna Berkovic

New Board Member Information

From Georganna Caddy

My name is Georganna Caddy. I graduated from the School in 1970. Many of you know me as Georgie or George. I was Corresponding Secretary for four years; and am now the Recording Secretary.

I have resided in Harrisburg since graduating. I worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 25 years. I am now retired and enjoying every minute of it. I recommend it to one and all if you can afford it. If you have the opportunity to do it, go for it!

I have been keeping busy serving as the President of the Blind Bowlers’ League known as the Harrisburg Capitals. I am also involved with the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind and am the current President of the Capital City chapter.

I hope to see all of you at our Fun Day on September 10 or at our next Alumni Reunion in 2006!

From Tom Hesley

I graduated from high school in 1979, at which time I began attending the Connelley Skill Learning Center to become an electronics technician. I graduated from Connelley in 1981 and immediately began working at the University of Pittsburgh, repairing their varied collection of audio visual equipment. Then, in 1984, I enrolled at Pitt to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, which I completed in 1988.
In the summer of 1988, I left Pittsburgh for Dayton, Ohio, to work for LexisNexis, an electronic publishing company as a software engineer. My career there spanned about fifteen years, during which I developed several software systems that to this day, are still running and making lots of money for LexisNexis. I led a software maintenance team in my final years there and at the very end, helped develop a Java-based document retrieval system. In 2003, having attained the status of senior software engineer, I resigned in order to pursue disc jockey work as well as to hone my writing skills. My hope is one day to publish a book which will help shy people to gain the confidence to express themselves openly to those whom they care for deeply. At present, I do one to three DJ gigs per month, and the writing is coming along. I’m still searching for the “exact handle” on how best to present the information I wish to disseminate. But sooner or later, I’ll have it, and I’ll write it then.

Did You Know

As of June 1 Pittsburgh Vision Services began operating at its new location at 1800 West Street, Homestead, PA both the building on South Craig Street and the rehabilitation facility in Bridgeville have been sold. Although the workshop is currently located on the North Side, ultimately all of PVS’s programs and services will be housed in the Homestead site after renovations have been completed. PVS’S new phone number is (412) 368-4400.

Alumni News

By Louise Flanigan

Employment And Retirement

We are happy to report that Ellen Goldfon, class of 1974, has found employment as early morning receptionist at the School’s Early Education Center. According to Ellen she is enjoying her work there.

Steve Berzinsky, class of 1952, has retired from The Business Enterprise Program of Blindness and Visual Services and is residing in Johnstown, Pa. Enjoy your retirement, Steve.

William Newland, class of 1964, has retired after working 31 years for the Social Security Administration at its downtown Pittsburgh office. . Bill is quite busy being President of Golden Triangle Council of the Blind as well as serving on the Board of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, of our local radio reading service, and of our Alumni Association.


Gilbert Busch, class of1972, and Elisa Walls Birr, class of 1973, were married on November 20, 2004. Best wishes to you both.


We are always sad to report the deaths of our members and their close relatives. We hope we haven’t missed anyone. If we have, it is only because we were not notified of their passing. We are grateful when you let us know of the death of a member or a near relative of a member or of staff member of WPSBC.

  • Ruth Jones, class of 1936, died in October, 2004.
  • Linda Augustin, class of 1970, lost her mother November 28, 2004.
  • James Daley, class of 1966 lost his wife January 3, 2005.
  • Paul Hamilton, class of 1949, died on February 6, 2005.
  • John (Chuck) Schaefer, class of 1966 lost a sister in February, 2005.
  • John Britzski, class of 1976, died March 13, 2005.
  • James Leri, class of 1945 lost a sister in March, 2005.
  • Linda Bagnato Davis, class of 1973, lost her mother on May 7, 2005.
  • Rev. Paul Lackner, who supervised the religious education program for Catholic students at our School for over forty years, passed away last winter. Father Lackner was the director of the Catholic Guild for the Blind, the small social service organization which was the forerunner of the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind, now part of Pittsburgh Vision Services.


Illnesses and Accidents

  • Last February while correctly crossing a busy street in downtown Pittsburgh at an intersection with an audible pedestrian phase signal on her way to work, Christine Stavros Hunsinger, class of 1966, was struck by a city bus. Chris sustained fractures of an elbow, a toe, and a hip. In April she was able to return to work part time, and we understand that she is recovering steadily.
  • During the month of April Edwin Kramer, class of 1951, spent 10 days in the hospital in order to stabilize his diabetes and prevent impending kidney failure. After spending six weeks at a convalescent and rehabilitation facility, Ed finally came home. We are delighted to report that he is doing very well and almost sounds like his old self.
  • Harry Long, class of 1967, has been plagued with ill health for some time. On May 5he was hospitalized for hip surgery and for treatment for a gallbladder infection which developed subsequently. Finally, on May 27 Harry was able to return home, very weak but in good spirits. We wish you well, Harry…



[We encourage everyone to read the following article carefully. The information ontained in it may help you to save a life.]

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a Stroke by asking three simple questions:

  • Ask the individual to SMILE.
  • Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
  • Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE.


If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 Immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

From Phil’s Files

By Philagonas Evancic

A friend recently emailed me a collection of “Home Tips”. I’d like to share a few of them with you, some perhaps more interesting than useful.

  1. If you want to make your hair bright and shiny, rinse it with brewed Lipton Tea.
  2. If you are suffering from sun burn, empty a large jar of Nestea into your bath water and just relax.
  3. Burned your tongue? A bit of sugar applied to the affected area may help.
  4. We all know how painful bee stings can be! Rub meat tenderizer over the sting.
  5. For paper cuts, try crazy glue or Chap Stick.
  6. To soothe athlete’s foott, try dusting with cornstarch.
  7. Did you know that Kool Aid will clean dishwasher pipes? Just pour the Kool Aid into the detergent dispenser and run a cycle.
  8. Peanut butter will remove scratches from CD’s. Wipe the peanut butter away with a paper coffee filter.
  9. If you are troubled with dandruff, Try rinsing your hair with vinegar
  10.  To remove wine stains, cover the stained area with table salt, and watch the salt absorb the stain.
  11.  To remove labels from glassware- or plasticware, rub the label with peanut butter.
  12.  I found this one rather interesting: When you go to buy bread, have you ever wondered how fresh it is? Bread is delivered fresh to stores five days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day the bread wrapper is secured with a twist tie or plastic fastener of a different color: Monday blue, Tuesday green, Thursday red, Friday white, and Saturday yellow. So, if you are shopping for bread on Saturday, be sure not to choose a loaf with a blue fastener unless you really like stale bread!


WAL-MART Tests Robots For Blind Shoppers

By Evan Schuman

[We thought that the following article, which we found on the Internet, was quite interesting. We hope you think so too.]

Wal-Mart on Thursday started quietly testing a university-created robot designed to help visually impaired consumers navigate store aisles and find their desired products.

The robot–named RG, for Robotic Guide–is the creation of Vladimir Kulyukin, an assistant professor of computer science at Utah State University and the director of the university’s Computer Science Assistive Technology Laboratory.

The initial version of RG–which weighs about 22 pounds and is roughly the height of an upright vacuum cleaner–is limited to three basic functions.

First, it guides the consumer through the aisles and around people, displays and merchandise using RFID readers and 16 ultrasonic sonars. The navigation system is sophisticated enough to handle environments–including elevators and limited open spaces–that usually literally trip up robots, Kulyukin said. The university has posted quite a few videos of RG in various stages of Testing.

Its second function is to communicate with the consumer. It takes instructions via a small Braille directory of products that are attached to the robot’s handle, and it replies to the shopper’s questions with spoken answers.

The third function is to use its RFID reader to locate the desired products. The store’s RFID tags help the robot navigate the lanes as well as locate products.

“There are RFID sensors placed on the shelves in the store. The robot has the RFID antennae and detects the presence of those tags,” Kulyukin said. “That’s how it knows it’s reached the Colgate section of the toothpaste shelf and it then announces, “you have reached the Colgate toothpaste section, on your right.'”

The robot has its limitations, though. Until item-level tagging becomes the norm, the system can indicate only the part of the shelf where the product is supposed to be. If it’s been moved–either by an employee moving stock who forgot to move or update the RFID tag or by another consumer who put a tube of Aim toothpaste amidst the Colgate–the visually impaired consumer might grab the wrong product.

“It certainly can be jumbled, and there is the potential to pick up the wrong product,” Kulyukin said, adding that his team is trying to add a robotic bar code into the system so that the robot would announce the product being placed in the cart. That functionality would likely address most of the mistaken product purchases, he said.

The robot’s development is still at a very early stage and has thus far mostly been paid for with a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Kulyukin said. He is negotiating with a large national retail chain to buy the units and invest in its further development. Kulyukin refused to identify the chain, but an employee in the university’s public relations department, Whitney Wilkinson, said the chain was indeed Wal-Mart. Kulyukin also said Wal-Mart was testing it locally. The store manager of the Wal-Mart store in North Logan, Utah, right near the university’s labs, confirmed that RG had arrived on Thursday.

“It’s a great thing for the customers who don’t have their eyesight,” said Wal-Mart store manager Ron Tuttle. “We have a lot of customers who come in and ask for someone to help them. I talked with one lady and she was very excited about it because it makes her feel more independent.”

Weekly Workout

The Doctor told me, I should start an exercise program. Not wanting to harm this old body, I’ve devised the following:


  • Beat around the bush
  • Jump to conclusions
  • Climb the walls
  • Wade through the morning paper



  • Drag my heels
  • Push my luck
  • Make mountains out of mole hills
  • Hit the nail on the head



  • Bend over backwards
  • Jump on the Band Wagon
  • Run around in circles



  • Advise the President/Prime Minister on how to run the country
  • Toot my own horn
  • Pull out all the stops
  • Add fuel to the fire



  • Open a can of worms
  • Put my foot in my mouth
  • Start the ball rolling
  • Go over the edge



  • Pick up the pieces!!



§ Kneel in prayer

Related Posts