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Andrea J. Beranek, PhD, of Pittsburgh died October 24 following a short illness complicated by recent cancer treatments. In death, she joins her husband Bernard F. Beranek (1941-2012). She is survived by her two daughters, Saskia Beranek (Bloomington, IL) and Christa Beranek (with son-in-law David Matheu and grandson Damien, of Arlington, MA), and her siblings and their spouses -- Paul and Vicky Gibson, Bernadette and Christopher McConnell, Jeanette Bahre, and nine nieces and nephews. She also leaves behind a wonderful network of friends including longtime family friends Louise Zbozny and Dan Watkins and Joanna Foster.
Andrea was born to Paul and Jeanne Gibson in 1946. Following a childhood in Eastern PA and Massachusetts and an undergraduate degree at Merrimack College, she came to Pittsburgh to pursue a Masters in English Literature at Duquesne University. It was there she met her future husband, and Pittsburgh has been home ever since. She worked for many years in academic administration at Carlow University (then Carlow College). Starting in the Learning Center, she eventually became the Associate Vice President for Learning Services and Assessment. She was particularly proud of the systems she built to support at-risk students, students with learning disabilities, and the work done in assessing the success of those programs at Carlow and elsewhere. She also completed a PhD in British literature and women writers of the 18th and 19th centuries under the direction of Dan Watkins at Duquesne University. While at Carlow, she occasionally taught classes as well as her work in assessment, and was named Professor Emerita in English at her retirement.
Andrea loved her garden and found great peace in it during the isolation created by the combination of her cancer diagnosis and Covid. She had gotten the yard to a state she really loved this summer: unruly, dynamic, and Romantic. Something was always in bloom, and birds and butterflies were numerous. Her almost daily photo updates of new plants and creatures shared her joy with loved ones near and far.
Andrea was also a skilled glass artist. She took up stained glass as a hobby in the 1980s, and the homes of many family friends were adorned with her work. Through the years she experimented with a wide variety of glass techniques, playing with textures, colors, and styles. Very few pieces ever fully satisfied her critical assessment of her own work, spurring a continuous process of experimentation. A similar mindset applied to baking, where she routinely felt the current batch of scones was "not my best work," despite being objectively exquisite.
Along with Bernard, Andrea cultivated a home full of music, art, laughter, friends, and good food, producing incredible meals out of an impossibly small kitchen. Their generosity and hospitality extended to friends, friends of their daughters, and many students through the years. No one ever left hungry. Andrea was endlessly supportive of the career paths of both her daughters, listening to technical discussions, going to museums and field sites, editing dissertation manuscripts, and always providing a loving ear, wise feedback, and a keen critical eye.
Her generosity, dry humor, patience, wisdom, and limitless love will be deeply missed.
Because Andrea took so much joy in sending flowers, in lieu of memorial flowers Christa and Saskia request that you send flowers to someone in your life who would enjoy receiving them. Alternately, donations could be made to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, 1 N. Linden Street, Duquesne, PA 15110, www.pittsburghfoodbank.org, an an organization Andrea regularly supported, or to a food bank in your own community.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, October 29th at 10 a.m. in Divine Mercy Parish—Epiphany Church, 184 Washington Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. The burial will take place on Monday, October 31st at 12:30 p.m. in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, 1158 Morgan Road, Bridgeville, PA 15017. Arrangements are entrusted to BRUSCO-NAPIER FUNERAL SERVICE, LTD., 2201 Bensonia Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15216.
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
1 N. Linden Street, Duquesne PA 15110