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February 22, 2001

OBITUARY: Josephine "Josie" Stagno Caiazzo

Josephine "Josie" Stagno Caiazzo was a Pitt staff specialist III, but co-workers say that bland title didn't begin to describe her value as the sociology department's computing manager and troubleshooter.

"Every time there was a computing glitch or problem in our department, people went immediately to Josie, who would solve the problem quickly and easily," said sociology chairperson Patrick Doreian. "She was an extraordinarily responsive, responsible staff member and took meticulous care of our computing resources and logistics. She was also a delightful human being, with a dry sense of humor."

Caiazzo, 57, died on Feb. 12, 2001, apparently when an aneurysm in her brain burst. She had worked in the sociology department for the last 38 years, beginning as a secretary in the era of typewriters and carbon paper.

Caiazzo's career nearly ended 26 years ago, when she suffered a stroke. "Josie's doctors told her she wouldn't be able to work again," said Nancy Collins, sociology department office manager and Caiazzo's immediate supervisor. "But Josie taught herself how to type again and just rehabbed herself completely."

Since her stroke, Caiazzo had lived with the knowledge that she had a potentially fatal brain aneurysm, Collins said.

In the spring 1997 issue of Pitt Sociology News, Caiazzo recalled one of her first days working in the department. A faculty member gave her a last-minute assignment to type and reproduce a handout. "I had to hand-deliver it to the class as soon as it was done," Caiazzo wrote. "This prepared me for the pressure that was to follow (at times), since faculty haven't changed their work habits much over the years. Thankfully, though, the people haven't changed — they are as pleasant today as they were back then."

Caiazzo is survived by her husband, Anthony J. Caiazzo; parents Patsy and Mary Stagno, and a brother, Dominic Stagno.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.

— Bruce Steele

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