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November 21, 2012

Obituary: Joanne M. Getsy

GETSYFuneral services were held Nov. 1 for former Office of Admissions and Financial Aid staffer Joanne M. Getsy, who retired in June after 23 years at Pitt.

Getsy, 61, died Oct. 28, 2012.

She joined the University staff in 1989 as a financial aid officer and later took on the role of federal work-study supervisor, said daughter Jody Federer, a staff member in the College of Business Administration.

Getsy retired under the Voluntary Early Retirement Plan (VERP) but had little time to enjoy her retirement with the return of cancer that had been diagnosed in 2011.

Co-workers remembered Getsy’s devotion to her family and her anticipation of retirement. “She was so looking forward to being a full-time grandma,” said co-worker Mary Gazal.

Gazal, who recently became a grandmother herself, recalled how Getsy, who had four grandchildren, often told her how wonderful it was to be a grandparent.

Another co-worker, Cindy Henderson, said, “We were so hoping she could enjoy her family and we’re sorry it didn’t work out that way.”

Henderson said, “She was all about her family. They had a good time together.”

Colleague Colleen Hartner said Getsy especially loved shopping with her daughters and had a particular fondness for buying shoes — for her grandchildren as well as for herself. Socks were another frequent purchase, Hartner said, recounting how Getsy once had come out of a Steelers store with enough Steelers socks for the entire family.

“She always loved football,” Hartner said, adding that in addition to her devotion to the Steelers, Getsy was an ardent Pitt Panthers fan.

Getsy’s job put her in contact with staff and students in many areas across the University.

In addition to everyday financial aid office duties, over the course of her years at Pitt Getsy managed financial aid for Semester at Sea and study-abroad participants and made financial aid presentations during weekend programs for prospective students.

“She always was very interested in everything the students had to say to her,” Hartner said, adding that Getsy went beyond counseling students about financial aid to offer a listening ear and advice on other issues in their lives.

Henderson recalled her as kind and personable, adding that Getsy likewise had a knack for working well with students’ parents.

She also was known for her extreme patience. “We used to say she had more patience than all of us put together,” Gazal said, recalling how co-workers would overhear her phone calls with students or parents. “She would explain something. And then she would repeat it. And repeat it. And repeat it” — all without raising her voice or being unkind, Gazal said. “She was very kind to everyone.”

Gazal, who vanpooled with Getsy from Westmoreland County, said she brought a sense of fun to the department. At quitting time, she’d call out, “Time to get your boots on,” a quip that began during the huge snowfall in 2010, but continued every afternoon into the spring, summer and beyond as the end of the workday drew near.

“She was a lot of fun.”

Hartner said Getsy would be the person in the office to suggest collectively ordering pizza or declare when it was time to have an office-wide potluck lunch — at which co-workers would expect Getsy to bring her famed ham barbecue, Gazal noted.

“Sometimes she would make up a reason to have a party,” she said.

Getsy is survived by; son, Freddie Getsy; daughters Federer and Robyn Jurczak, a staff member in Athletics; son-in-law, Joseph Jurczak; sister, Billie Bergman, a former administrator in the Swanson School of Engineering who also retired under the VERP; niece Michelle Heller, a staff member in the School of Nursing, and four grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, 5150 Centre Ave., Suite 1B, Pittsburgh 15232.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 45 Issue 7

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