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April 16, 2015

Obituary: Mark Fragapane

Mark A. Fragapane, a health physics technologist in the Radiation Safety Office, died March 29, 2015, of complications following knee surgery. He was 52.

Mark FragapaneFragapane, of Shaler, was a 1980 graduate of Shaler Area High School and the A.W. Beattie Area Technical School nuclear metallurgical technology program.

He spent his entire 35-year Pitt career in the Radiation Safety Office (RSO), a place where staffers grow close over decades of working together. About half of the 17 workers there have 20 or more years of service at the University.

Colleagues there remembered Fragapane as quiet and gentle, capable and ever professional.

“He’s really going to be missed,” said RSO director Michael Sheetz, who commended Fragapane’s expertise. “Over the years, his knowledge and capabilities of what he could do surpassed what a lot of the health physicists could do,” Sheetz said.

He was an all-around “go-to guy,” Sheetz said. “The other technologists looked up to him and always went to him for advice,” both on technical issues and on social issues requiring diplomacy.

“He was sort of the father of the technologists,” he said.

Several colleagues remembered Fragapane as a willing mentor who shared his expertise with gentleness and a mild-mannered style.

As part of his work, Fragapane conducted surveys and regulation compliance audits in laboratories that use radioactive material or X-ray equipment, making him a familiar visitor in many University departments as well as in radiology and nuclear medicine areas at UPMC’s Oakland hospitals.

“The people he interacted with at the hospitals just loved him,” said RSO administrator Patricia Barus, who worked with Fragapane for 28 years. “Everyone respected him.”

As a colleague, Fragapane “was very quiet and somewhat shy, until you got to know him and then he would open up,” Sheetz said. Beneath his reserve, “He had a humorous, fun-loving side, but you had to get to know him first.”

Fragapane was a source of levity, kiddingly offering Sheetz advice on office management or playfully riffing on Barus’s name. “He’d call me these crazy names down the hall — ‘Hey, Patty-wagon’ or ‘Patty-o.’ He used to like to stir it up,” she said.

Coworkers recalled Fragapane as a devoted family man. He enjoyed attending his children’s sporting events and deer hunting with his son.

Married to his high-school sweetheart, his life outside of work revolved around his family. “Everything was for his kids,” Barus said, adding that he likewise was devoted to his father, who resided with them.

Fragapane is survived by his wife, Sherry; son, Ryan; daughter, Laura, and father, Carmen.

—Kimberly K. Barlow