Alumni Bulletin: 2006

Letter from the President

Dear Alumni,

Since I became president, I receive the list of members who pay dues. Some of these people come to almost every Alumni Reunion; others come just now and then. But there are others who are either uninterested in attending or are unable to do so because of a variety of physical or health conditions. One of our members who falls in this last category is Kenneth Partridge, class of 1962. Ken has cerebral palsy and cannot travel easily. He has been paying his Alumni dues year after year, and he enjoys hearing about what is happening to his school friends and other Alumni members. Perhaps some of you who remember Ken would like to tape or write to him—but not in Braille… His address is 1008 Thompson St., Jersey Shore, PA 17740.

And, speaking of Alumni members whom we haven’t heard from or about for a long time, wasn’t it good to have Ann Kirk, class of 1966, with us at the banquet during the last Alumni Reunion? I hope those of you who know Ann had the opportunity to welcome her.

Do you notice that the older we get, the faster time seems to go by? It is already time to think about coming to the 2006 Alumni Reunion. I am hoping for a large number of Alumni members to attend this year. In fact, we are sending a copy of this bulletin to all the members for whom we have addresses—a total of 170. Although I am aware that quite a number of you have been ill at some time during the past two years, think about taking a little time to get away from home and relax with your friends in August. It will do you a lot of good.

The Alumni Reunion this year will be held from August 11 to August 13 at the School. The cost for the entire weekend will be fifty (50) dollars, including dues. If you attend only Friday evening, the cost will be ten (10) dollars plus dues, which is six (6) dollars. If you plan to attend Saturday breakfast or lunch only, the cost will be five (5) dollars per meal plus dues. If you wish to attend only the banquet, the cost will be twenty (20) dollars plus dues.

The schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Friday, Aug. 11

  • Registration will take place from 3:00 to 6:00 pm…
  • At 6:00 there will be a brief orientation meeting in the multipurpose room.
  • Following this meeting, a picnic supper will be served.
  • The organized entertainment for the evening will consist of darts, bowling and bingo.


Saturday, Aug. 12

  • Breakfast will be served at 8:00 am.
  • The business meeting will be held from 9:00 until noon At this meeting we will take action on the amendment to permit spouses of Alumni members to become members of the Alumni Association (See the article immediately following for more information on this issue.).
  • Lunch will be served at noon.
  • During the afternoon we are planning to offer a tour (Read on for more details.)
  • The banquet will be held in the main dining room at 6:00 pm.
  • No formal activities have been scheduled for the remainder of the evening.


Sunday, Aug. 13

  • Breakfast will be served at 8:00 am.
  • We must vacate the building by 11:00 am.


The tour which has been proposed is the Just Ducky Tour. This is a unique tour of the area within and adjoining downtown Pittsburgh. It is conducted on a vehicle capable of traveling both on land and on water—just like a duck The tour will take about an hour and will cost eighteen (18) dollars for those over 60 years of age and nineteen (19) dollars for younger members. A bus, provided by the Alumni Association will transport you to Station Square, where the tour begins, and will return you to the School as well. If you are interested in taking this tour, you must send in your money no later than July 7 (no cash, please.) If there is not sufficient interest shown for this tour, it will be cancelled and your money returned.

I would like to extend special thanks to Keith Dovenspike for the time and money he donated to establish our website, During the past year Tom Hesley, our treasurer, took over as webmaster. He has provided access to a lot of information on the site. If you have a computer, visit the site. If you have suggestions or comments about the content, appearance or ease of accessibility of the site, contact Tom by email at this address:

Enclosed with this Alumni Bulletin you will find a registration form. Please complete it and return it, along with your check or money order made payable to WPSBC Alumni Assn., in the enclosed self-addressed envelope by August 1, 2006. If you would like to participate in the Just Ducky tour, we must receive your check or money order for the tour by July 7, 2006. We need the lead time to charter the bus.

Finally, if you need to arrive at the School a few hours before the time for registration, or if you have any questions, you can reach me at (412) 683-1798.

Joanna Berkovic,

Proposed Amendment to the Bylaws

By Kathryn Susany

At the business meeting of the 2004 Alumni Reunion there was discussion which culminated in a vote of consensus to draft an amendment to the Bylaws permitting spouses of Alumni members to become members of the Alumni Association.

Proposed amendment : If spouses of Alumni members wish to become members of the

Alumni Association, they must communicate their request, orally or in writing, to the Membership Committee. Acceptance into the Association will entitle them to the right to debate and vote at all meetings, but they may not hold any elective office.

Action on this proposed amendment will be taken at the upcoming Reunion. If approved, the amendment will become section 4 of Article III.

Alumni News

I would like to open this column on a very happy note. Probably a few of our senior members will remember Pearl McMichael (formerly Pearl Young) who taught at our school in the 1930s. Certainly a number of you who belong to the Beaver County and Golden Triangle chapters of the PA Council of the Blind are acquainted with her. Since the death of her husband John McMichael, class of 1937, Pearl has continued to live in Beaver Falls. Though she has lost much of her sight, Pearl continues to manage her own home and travel alone in her neighborhood. She recently became a computer user, and her mind is as alert as ever. The remarkable fact about this spunky lady is that she has just celebrated her ninety-fifth birthday!

New Employment

  • Ellen Goldfon, class of 1974, informed us that she is now employed as a part-time receptionist in the Early Education Centerof the School, located in its recently completed addition on Bellefield Avenue.



  • Arnie Bowser, class of 1957, reported that he retired after working for 41 years as a teacher. He began his work at the Maryland School for the Blind; but he also taught in New Mexico. Arnie and his wife are now residing in rural eastern Pennsylvania.



  • On March 30, 2006, Lexie Raducz, class of 1974, was married to Duane Long. They are making their home in Akron, Ohio. Best wishes, Lexie.



  • Mary Vuksanovich, class of 1975, has announced her engagement to Sam Wagner, class of 1981.



  • Greg Scott, class of 1981, was hit by a car and suffered a broken foot in early January, 2006. Fortunately, after two and a half months he was able to return to his job as delivery man for the Melwood Drugstore. Good luck, and watch that traffic,, Greg.



  • Friends of Lorraine Brooks, class of 1950, will be sad to hear that she is suffering from health problems which have virtually incapacitated her. As a result, she can no longer play the organ at her church. She has given up her guide dog and her apartment, and is now residing at the Comfy Cozy Nursing Home in Connellsville, PA. You are in our thoughts, Lorraine.
  • Bruno Wolozyn, class of 1937, is now residing in an assistive living facility near Oil City.
  • After surgery for a medical problem associated with diabetes, Joe Sofranko, class of 1950, had to spend some time in a convalescent center to receive therapy. We are happy to report that he is again living in his own apartment. Good luck, Joe. We hope you can get back to your music. is apartment.
  • Jeanne Kaufman, class of 1970, has been wrestling with serious medical problems throughout the past winter and spring. In fact, her condition required that she spend some time in a nursing home. She is at home now and feeling a bit more comfortable. Keep fighting, Jeannie.
  • Charles Vidunus, class of 1968, has been at Shadyside Hospital for several weeks now due to cardiac problems. We understand that he is currently scheduled for heart surgery. We wish you a speedy recovery, Chuck, and we know your customers do too.
  • Lou Schreiber, class of 1967, has just returned home after being hospitalized for eight days due to a severe case of epiglottitis. This throat condition has made it extremely difficult for Lou to speak. But it has not affected his drive and desire to make music. In the week that he has been home, he has played one evening engagement and a job at a local church. You have given many people a lot of pleasure through your music, Lou, and if our prayers and good wishes can help to restore your health and your voice, you can count on them.
  • Ed Kramer, class of 1951, and Harry Long, class of 1967, continue to grapple with health issues, but they’re not down yet. Your friends are pulling for both of you.



  • Joanna Berkovic, class of 1960, lost her mother on July 2, 2005.
  • Michael Risko, a former student and brother of George Risko, a graduate of WPSBC, died July 7, 2005.
  • Elsie Sharp Feltenberger, class of 1947, wife of Jack Feltenberger, died October 14, 2005.
  • Louis Zasadni, class of 1948, lost a sister in December, 2005.
  • Ellen Goldfon, class of 1974, lost her mother on March 20, 2006.
  • Robert Mates, class of 1968, lost his wife on April 7, 2006.
  • A few months after his passing we received word of the death of Eugene Draghi, class of 1960.


We would like to express our sympathy to those who have lost loved ones since our last issue of The Bulletin. We are sorry if we have missed listing any graduate or former students or their immediate family members. Sometimes we do not receive information of deaths, or if we do, it may come from an indirect source which may be questionable. So please, if you hear of the passing of anyone who attended WPSBC, let us know.

Louise Flanigan

240 W. Brady Street

Butler, PA 16001

Phone (724) 282 2263.

A Tribute to Mike Risko

By Russ Dougherty

Mike Risko worked at the Washington-Greene County Blind Association for nearly 40 years before his death on July 7, 2005, from pneumonia. He also tuned pianos and caned chairs to supplement his income. Except for the last two years during which much repair work was being done on the streets and sidewalks of his neighborhood in Washington, PA, Mike traveled everywhere independently. It seemed like everyone knew him. Mike liked to walk to the Union Grill for his evening meals and socialize with his friends. He enjoyed talking with people and making new friends. . Mike was a wonderful person and would help anybody that he could. Mike is the younger brother of George Risko who is also blind since birth and lives in Pittsburgh.

Mike had a beautiful singing voice which he shared with the barbershop quartet in Washington for 28 years. He also sang at Saint Basil the Great Russian Orthodox church in Belle Vernon and at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville New York where he is buried next to his father.

Mike was a long-time member of the Washington County Council of the Blind–close to forty years. He was a good friend and will be truly missed by our chapter. He died at the young age of 81.

Grandma’s Cures

Submitted by Philagonas Evancic

Did You Know …?

  1. 1. Drinking two glasses of Gatorade can relieve headache pain almost immediately–without the unpleasant side effects caused by traditional “pain relievers.”
  2. 2. Before you head to the drugstore for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of Altoids peppermints. They’ll clear up your stuffed nose.
  3. 3. Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1 Tablespoon of horseradish in 1 cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil, for instant relief for aching muscles.
  4. 4. Sore throat? Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey and take 1 tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria.
  5. 5. Cure urinary tract infections with Alka-Seltzer. Just dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of the symptoms. Alka-Seltzer begins eliminating urinary tract infections almost instantly–even though the product has never been advertised for this use.
  6. 6. Honey remedy for skin blemishes… Cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a Band-Aid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight.
  7. 7. Listerine therapy for toenail fungus… Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine mouthwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again.
  8. 8. Easy eyeglass protection… To prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of Maybelline Crystal Clear nail polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them.
  9. 9. Coca-Cola cure for rust… Forget those expensive rust removers. Just saturate an abrasive sponge with Coca-Cola and scrub the rust stain. The phosphoric acid in the coke is what gets the job done.
  10. 10. Cleaning liquid that doubles as bug killer… If menacing bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets get into your home and you can’t find the insecticide, try a spray of Formula 409. Insects drop to the ground instantly.
  11. 11. Smart splinter remover… just pour a drop of Elmer’s Glue all over the splinter, let dry, and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue.
  12. 12. Hunt’s Tomato Paste boil cure… cover the boil with Hunt’s Tomato Paste as a compress. The acids from the tomatoes soothe the pain and bring the boil to a head.
  13. 13. Balm for broken blisters… To disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine… a powerful antiseptic.
  14. 14. Heinz vinegar to heal bruises… Soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process.
  15. 15. Kill fleas instantly. Dawn dish washing liquid does the trick. Add a few drops to your dog’s bath and shampoo the animal thoroughly. Rinse well to avoid skin irritations. Good-bye fleas.
  16. 16. Rainy day cure for dog odor… Next time your dog comes in from the rain, simply wipe down the animal with Bounce or any dryer sheet, instantly making your dog smell springtime fresh.
  17. 17. Eliminate ear mites… All it takes is a few drops of Wesson corn oil in your pet’s ear. Massage it in; then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for 3 days. The oil soothes the pet’s skin, smothers the mites and accelerates healing.
  18. 18. Quaker Oats for fast pain relief… It’s not for breakfast anymore! Mix 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave For 1 minute, cool slightly, and apply the mixture to your hands for soothing relief from arthritis pain.


Jane Holmes

(The Following piece, excerpted from an article which appears in the Winter, 2006, edition of Insights, a publication of the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, is reprinted with permission.)

Jane Holmes

When Jane Holmes came to Pittsburgh in 1807, it was

a small, unincorporated village. Jane, a child of Irish immigrants, was just two years old. But as she grew to maturity, Pittsburgh had become the “Iron City,” its economy driven by coal, iron and manufacturing. Pollution blackened the air and recurring bouts of typhoid, smallpox and cholera plagued its residents. Tuberculosis was rampant. Social services for those in need were almost non-existent.

Into this maelstrom, Jane Holmes introduced her own brand of philanthropy, with monies accumulated from her family’s successful banking ventures. Holmes was a benefactor to people who fell between the cracks of 19th century society—the homeless, the aged, the blind, the deaf, the “friendless,” working boys, orphans (both Negro and white) and animals and others who suffered abuse.

Jane Holmes was known for her compassion and generosity towards people in despair. Every day people came to her downtown home on Penn Avenue telling their tales of woe and asking for help. Those who touched Jane’s heart could be sure of leaving with the promise of aid.

In 1880, Holmes was visited by a young girl in the final throes of tuberculosis. The girl had no family and nowhere to go. Holmes was touched by her and arranged for her care until she died. But Holmes saw a need for a place where people with incurable diseases could get care and nursing. She converted her family’s summer home on Butler Street, in Lawrenceville, into the Protestant Home for Incurables, later known as Holmes House.

That same year, Reverend Fulton of the Allegheny Fourth United Presbyterian Church saw a 4-year old African- American child wandering the streets of the North Side.

After finding a home for this orphan, Rev. Fulton called a group together to plan for a permanent structure for such children. Holmes was among the organizers. Holmes

bequeathed $10,000 for The Home for Colored Children. That facility sowed the seeds of what has become Three Rivers Youth, a leading agency for at-risk youngsters in Allegheny and Washington counties.

Another bequest helped fund the Protestant Home for Boys on the North Side, a boarding home for working boys and boys new to the city between the ages of 14 and 21. This later became the Protestant Home for Children. In 1969, three facilities for youngsters merged into Pressley Ridge which now serves more than 1,500 children and their families in six states.

A facility known today as the Jane Holmes Residence and Gardens came into being in 1881, after Holmes learned of an infirm, elderly couple who were forced to live apart because no place would take the both of them. Holmes called a meeting of like-minded benefactors and quickly secured a charter for the Home for Aged Protestants, a couples residence. In 1953, the home opened to single and widowed women and today it is an assisted living facility.

During her lifetime, Holmes contributed more than $1-million to causes that interested her. When she died, May 3, 1885, she left $300,000 in bequests to a breadth and variety of Pittsburgh organizations including:

  • The Western Pennsylvania Hospital for Medical and Surgical Purposes
  • The Homeopathic Medicine and Surgical Hospital and Dispensary (now Shadyside Hospital)
  • The Pittsburgh Free Dispensary
  • The Western Pennsylvania Institute for Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb
  • The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.


Holmes also set aside funds for two efforts still in the planning stages. One of them was a proposed facility for the blind. Her will stipulates that “If within two years after my decease an Institution for the Education and Maintenance of the Blind. . . . shall be organized,” the group would receive $20,000 plus a part of her residual estate. At the time, just such a group was meeting, determined to educate and train blind children in Pittsburgh. With Holmes’s early support, the school, then known as The Western Pennsylvania Institute for the Blind opened in October 1890 in a house at 333 42nd Street. That institution is known today as the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, and it counts Holmes as one of its early benefactors.

The other organization with a similar bequest has since become Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Why Men Have Two Dogs And Not Two Wives

Submitted by Louise Flanigan

The later you are, the more excited your dogs are to see you.

Dogs will forgive you for playing around with other dogs.

If a dog is gorgeous, other dogs don’t hate it.

Dogs don’t notice if you call them by another dog’s name.

Dogs like it if you leave a lot of things on the floor.

A dog’s parents never visit.

Dogs do not hate their bodies.

Dogs agree that you have to raise your voice to get your point across.

Dogs like to do their snooping outside rather than in your wallet or desk.

Dogs can’t talk.

You never have to wait for a dog. They are ready to go 24 hours a day.

Dogs find you amusing when you are drunk.

Dogs like to go hunting and fishing.

Another man will seldom steal your dog.

A dog will not wake you up at night to ask, “If I died would you get another dog”?

If a dog has babies you can put an ad in the paper and give them away.

A dog will let you put on a studded collar without calling you a pervert.

A dog will not hold out on you to get a new car.

If a dog smells another dog on you itdoesn’t get mad. The dog just finds it interesting.

Dogs don’t Let magazine articles guide their lives.

When your dog gets old you can have it put to sleep.

Dogs like to ride in the back of a pickup truck.

Dogs are not allowed in Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s

If a dog leaves, it will only take half of your stuff.