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Manager of Pittsburgh Fringe Festival among Americans killed in Alps crash

| Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 4:52 p.m.
WPXI
Germanwings A320 crash victim Emily Selke, from Nokesville, VA, was the coordinator of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival from June 2013 to June 2014.

Emily Selke spent more than a year in Pittsburgh leading up to May 2014 helping to bring the Steel City its own Fringe Festival — a local version of the alternative-theater festival that began in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1947.

Emily Selke and her mother, Yvonne, both of Nokesville, Va., were two of three Americans known to have been killed when Germanwings Flight 4U9525 crashed Tuesday in the French Alps. The State Department has not identified the third American.

Raymond Selke, the husband and father, was too distraught to discuss their deaths with the media, The Washington Post reported.

A statement released from Pittsburgh Fringe said members were “devastated” to hear of Selke's death.

“She was a founding staff member and crucial part of the new Pittsburgh Fringe Festival,” it said. “She was instantly likeable, passionate about the arts, hard working and a joy to be around. We cannot replace her. We will never forget her.”

Pittsburgh Fringe founder and director Dan Stiker told the Trib the news is “still sinking in for all of us.”

“Emily was a delight and had a bright future,” he said. “I never would have imagined I would have to write anything but a glowing recommendation letter for her.”

Pittsburgh Fringe organizer and Drexel professor Xela Batchelder said Selke was passionate about festival management.

“She was so cheerful, so lovely, so hard-working,” Batchelder said. “She knew what she wanted to do and went out and worked for it. If she really wanted it, she dived right into it.”

Batchelder said she and Selke traveled to Scotland for the 2013 Edinburgh festival, and Selke was the only American invited to attend a training camp for festival managers hosted by the European Festivals Association in Barcelona.

Selke had planned to return for Pittsburgh's 2015 festival in May, Batchelder said.

“There just wasn't anything negative with her,” she said. “She was very, very bright.”

Selke's mother, Yvonne, spent time in Pittsburgh supporting her daughter and the festival, Stiker said.

“They were both passionate about the Fringe and making a difference,” he said.

Batchelder said Yvonne Selke traveled to Scotland for part of that trip.

“It was great to see how supportive they were of each other,” she said. “It was just beautiful.”

Yvonne Selke was an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, according to the company. She worked as a government contractor with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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