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June 11, 2015

Obituary: George R. Jucha Jr.

George Jucha, a part-time faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Computer Science, died June 7, 2015, in an automobile accident. He was 50.

Daniel Fleet Jr., 25, was driving the wrong way on Route 22 in Robinson Township, Washington County, when he struck Jucha head on. Fleet has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

Jucha taught courses on software for personal computing and web design and development. When his department recently added a course on conducting big data analyses, chair Daniel Mossé thought Jucha could help teach it. But Jucha didn’t have a computer science degree and was uncertain about his role in the class.

So he sat through the first term of the new class until he felt he could contribute. “I thought that kind of exemplifies what George Jucha was,” Mossé says.

Jucha received a 1986 BS from Slippery Rock University in finance.

Beginning in 2001, his role as a Pitt adjunct faculty member included teaching in the freshman programs. He also created videos for use in his classes.

“In the classroom, he was always helping students,” Mossé says, recalling the sight of Jucha staying long after the end of his evening classes to answer students’ questions. “He always felt very fervently how great it was to be teaching, to be helping the students.”

Also, Mossé adds, “He was way ahead of his time with the flipped classroom concept” of concentrating in the classroom on what traditionally had been homework.

Since 2004, Jucha had been president and owner of Independent Recycling Services, LLC, a recycling brokerage firm handling all paper grades. The company also conducted recycling audits.

Seven years earlier, he had founded Great Ideas Inc., which produced “Conquering Computers,” a 52-minute videotape explaining computers and related devices in user-friendly terms.

The company also provided computer services, marketing assistance and website design locally to the UPMC neurology department, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and other organizations.

Just after college, Jucha began a finance career with Kaufmann’s and the May Department Stores Co., which included work as the manager of capital and expense, senior financial analyst/profit improvement manager, analyst of capital and energy and several other posts.

Friends and colleagues recall with great fondness his involvement in caring for feral cats in his neighborhood and advocating to keep fracking out of county parks.

Mossé also remembers how humble Jucha could be: “He got a teaching award every semester that I can remember,” including 16th place nationally for 2013-14 on

“And he was always thinking, ‘How can I make my classes better?’ It’s not every day that we see someone who is consistently winning awards in teaching who is saying, ‘How can I make this better?’”

Visitation will be 1-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m June 11 at the William Slater II Funeral Home, 1650 Greentree Road, Scott Township, where a blessing service will be held at 11 a.m. June 12.

—Marty Levine