Saturday, April 22, 2017

"I'm just a regular guy from Pittsburgh." - Dan Rooney

I am from Pittsburgh, and except for one short year I have lived here my entire life. What are Pittsburghers like? Pittsburghers are hard-working people, down-to-earth, helpful, and friendly. Pittsburghers are the kind of people who will pull over to the side of the road if you need help, and if you are lost, they will TAKE you to your destination! ("Just follow me, Buddy!  No trouble at all!  Glad to help you out!")  Pittsburgh is a great town with three major sports teams, a lively cultural district, a center for Education and universities, and a mecca for medicine.

Pittsburgh lost two giants this past week -  Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Henry Hillman. Both men gave so much to Pittsburgh.

Henry Hillman and his late wife, Elsie Hillman, are the reason that Pittsburgh is home to The Hillman Cancer Center, The Hillman Library,  and The Hillman Hall of Gems and Minerals at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, just to name a few of their contributions. The Hillmans also provided dollars for research and grants, making Pittsburgh a center for cancer research and innovative treatment.  Never seeking the spotlight, Henry Hillman did things quietly, in keeping with his famous quote, "A whale is harpooned only when it spouts."  Mr. Hillman was 98 years old, and he will be missed greatly.   (Link to Mr. Hillman's obituary: )

Dan Rooney was just 84 years old when he passed last week.  His father, Art "The Chief" Rooney, bought the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 1933. Dan began as a ball boy and worked his way up to becoming the President of the franchise.  During that time, he never lost his sense of humbleness, and he always remembered his roots, still living in his house on the city's Northside.  Mr. Rooney's vision to implode Three Rivers Stadium and to build Heinz Field was the impetus for the revitalization of the city's now beautiful North Shore.  His sense of fair play led to what is called The Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for coaching vacancies. Mr. Rooney put his money where his mouth was when he hired Mike Tomlin as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007. 

Mr. Rooney went to work every day, and he seemed to make everyone feel at ease, like he was an old friend.  I saw him at a speaker's series last winter, and we exchanged a few words.  I always liked him. I was thrilled for Mr. Rooney when President Obama made him Ambassador to Ireland, and not surprised that as Ambassador, he and his wife visited every county in Ireland. He was a people person.  (Link to Mr. Rooney's obituary:

The passing of these two men has made Pittsburghers weep.  Two icons gone in two days; two men who made our city great, but kept their humility; two men whom we all thought of as "friends."   

When I was in the classroom and the passing of an important person who had a profound effect was in the news, I would often spend a few "teachable minutes" discussing the person and extolling the virtues of the deceased.  if I were in the classroom today, I would be talking about these two men who loved their city, and who did the best they could for others, never losing their humility, their Pittsburgh work ethic, or their Pittsburgh values.  I read that both men gave to many community projects - anonymously. I think it is important for students to know that providing for others, through donations or service, is paramount. I think students should also know that humbleness and humility, and showing respect for others, is the way a life should be lived.  These two men were great examples of the Golden Rule.   

Thank you, Mr. Hillman and Mr. Rooney!  I appreciate all you did for Pittsburgh!  You will be missed by so many. 

Here is a link to a great article about these two Pittsburgh giants: 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

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1 comment:

  1. What a nice tribute to two amazing Pittsburghers. My dad actually grew up with Mr. Rooney and his brothers. Over the years, he has shared such great stories of their childhood days on the North Side, and their summer trips to the Rooney's farm outside of the city. It is hard for me to imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers or this city without his presence.