Sister Donna Marie Beck, CSJ and William J.W. Brown have died
June 13, 2019
SISTER DONNA MARIE (CAROLYN MARIE) BECK, CSJ
Age 87, died Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in the 70th year of her religious life as a Sister of St. Joseph. The daughter of the late Fred and Mary Carolyn Sheridan Beck, Sister Donna Marie entered the Congregation from St. Patrick parish in Gallitzin, PA.
Surrounded by a musical family, Sister Donna Marie began playing the organ at daily Mass from the time she was 12 years old. Before pursuing music therapy studies in the 1970s, Sister Donna Marie was a music teacher in the Diocese of Pittsburgh schools, including St. Veronica, St. Raphael and Mon Valley high schools and Fontbonne Academy. While teaching, Sister Donna Marie also directed music sessions for nurses at St. Joseph Hospital. She coordinated the music therapy internship program at Polk State Center, co-founded the music therapy program at Marywood College, and initiated the music therapy program at Villa St. Joseph. One of the first students to earn certification from Duquesne University’s music therapy program in 1976, Sister Donna Marie subsequently succeeded her mentor as chair of the department a few years later.
Following retirement from her full-time position as Chair and Director of the Music Therapy Department in 2008, she continued to work part-time as Professor Emerita of Music Therapy. Sister Donna Marie was at the forefront of music therapy for more than 30 years. Under her leadership, Duquesne strengthened its national reputation in the field. Her scholarship in such areas as spirituality and guided imagery has been widely published and acclaimed for expanding the frontiers of a relatively young discipline, and her advocacy has resulted in the expansion of music therapy services throughout the Pittsburgh area’s health care facilities, from children’s hospitals to residential homes for the elderly. Sister Donna Marie conducted music therapy workshops and seminars nationally and internationally and has received numerous honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Music Therapy Association. Just last year, Sister Donna Marie re-connected with nearly 50 former students and colleagues at a music therapist conference in Pittsburgh where many described her radiant spirit, humble and infinite wisdom, open heart and quiet strength.
Her greatest tribute is the generations of students who became her colleagues and the thousands of lives that she has transformed through music. “Preparing young people to be compassionate and competent music therapists has been a beautiful blessing for me,” she said. “Music has truly been a servant source in my own spiritual growth as well as that of my students.”
Sister Donna Marie is survived by two sisters, Carolyn Nickerson (Robert) of Cresson, PA and Maureen Beck (Thomas) of Baltimore, MD; nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews; and the Associates and the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Friends will be received Sunday, June 16 from 1 p.m. to the close of the Prayer Vigil and Monday, June 17 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at THE MOTHERHOUSE OF THE SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH. Prayer Vigil will be Sunday, June 16 at 6 p.m. at the Motherhouse. Mass of Christian Burial will be offered Monday, June 17 at 4 p.m. Donations in the name of Sister Donna Marie may be sent to the Sisters of St. Joseph Memorial Fund, Development Office, 1020 State St., Baden, PA, 15005.
WILLIAM (J.W.) BROWN (a former directee of Sr. Carole Riley and former reflection writer)
Born in Staten Island, NY, on June 7, 1938. Died in Pittsburgh, PA, on June 12, 2019, age 81, of complications from prostate cancer. A graduate of the Catholic University School of Law and Yale Law School, Professor Brown worked for the firm of Beekman and Bogue on Wall Street and taught back at Catholic University before coming to Pittsburgh in 1968 to teach at Pitt Law School, where he specialized in federal, corporate, and estate taxation. His scholarship included books on tax strategies for separation and divorce and corporate taxation. Upon his retirement with Emeritus status in 2000, an anonymous donation of $1 million was made in his honor. He went on to serve for six years as director of the graduate tax program at Duquesne University’s school of business. Despite significant health challenges, he continued to teach at Pitt, Duquesne, and Carlow until he was 78. Beloved by his students, he made taxes fun and won three Excellence in Teaching Awards from Pitt Law (1994, 1999, and 2008) and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award (1991). He was twice elected president of the University Senate and served on the University Press Board and many other committees, including as chair of the Affirmative Action Committee and the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee. For at least thirty years, he commuted to Pitt by bicycle. Bill was “serially maniacal,” throwing himself wholeheartedly into various pursuits over the years—tennis, art collecting, sailing, marathon running, pottery making, model boat building, golf, wooden kayak building, vintage car racing, icon “writing,” furniture restoration, and painting landscapes and portraits of his beloved Beagle, Knox. Perhaps his greatest artistic creation was the home he built in Rector, PA, largely with his own hands. In 2017, he published “Canticle of Returning,” a memoir about his Catholic faith. He served as a 40-year board member and past president of the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services (HDS) of Pittsburgh, from whom he received the Harlan J. Rozenzweig Appreciation Award in May 2019. He was also a past board member and president of Chamber Music Pittsburgh and a member of Sacred Heart Parish, the Pittsburgh Junta, the Board of Governors of the Yale Club of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Tax Club, and the Pittsburgh Golf Club. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Eliza Smith Brown; and three adult children, Will, Brendan, and Regina. Friends will be received at JOHN A. FREYVOGEL SONS, INC., 4900 Centre Ave., at Devonshire St., on Tuesday, June 18, from 1-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Funeral on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Mass of Christian Burial at Sacred Heart Church at 10:00 a.m. Remembrences may be made to the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services of Pittsburgh, www.hdscenter.org.
Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from June 15 to June 17, 2019