Professor, born in Pittsburgh, fueled growth of arts throughout city
English wasn't his first language. But by his 11th birthday, first-generation American citizen Daniel L. Kuruna had read every volume in the Hill District's Carnegie library, his son said.
“He always said everybody in the world can teach us something,” said Daniel L. Kuruna III, 68, of Middleburg, whose father earned three college degrees, fought on both fronts of World War II and became a celebrated Pittsburgh artist and college professor. “He looked at being born in the United States as an opportunity. That drove the whole family.”
The elder Kuruna, most recently of Selinsgrove, died Tuesday, March 5, 2013, as a result of a brief illness. He was 93.
Born in the Hill District, Kuruna spoke his family's native Ukrainian until he enrolled in first grade, said Kuruna III.
He studied art education in Carnegie Technical Schools — now Carnegie Mellon University — where he earned his bachelor's degree, and at the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University, where he received master's and doctoral degrees, respectively. He married the late Virginia (Zeher) Kuruna in the early 1940s. They met at a Hill District community center where both volunteered.
His military position as an information specialist in a combat engineering battalion ended with the war, his son said. “Because he was in the occupation of Japan, I was 2 years old before he ever saw me,” said Kuruna III.
He worked as a Carnegie museum curator in the 1950s, led the Pittsburgh International Art biannual exhibition and became a well-known painter and sculptor. A Kuruna lithograph featuring trees won an art invitational in 1947 at Pebble Beach, Calif.
Kuruna III further credited his father with helping fuel the artistic side of the post-war Pittsburgh Renaissance, which invigorated the region's scholarly and cultural institutions.
But Kuruna's work as a teacher will probably be his primary legacy, his son said. Kuruna taught art education in Mansfield University and was chairman of the West Chester University and Western Illinois University art departments before retiring in Pittsburgh.
In addition to his wife, who died in 2009, he was preceded in death by a sister, Dorothy.
His survivors include his son and daughter-in-law, Christine; two daughters, Tina Lipkin of Philadelphia and Darya Kuruna of Worcester, Mass.; a sister, Katherine Kiray of Upper St. Clair; six grandsons; and one great-grandson. Visitation and a memorial service are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday in John E. Slater Funeral Home, 4201 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh. A military burial is planned in St. Vladimir Ukrainian Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be sent to The Salvation Army, 8020 Frankstown Ave., Pittsburgh, PA., 15221.
Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pgh. International leader strives to inject Pittsburgh flavor into airport
- Owner of Penn Hills tombstone business pleads guilty to swindling the bereaved out of $90K
- Fire reported at recycling facility in Braddock
- Groups seek $2.5M for North Side’s historic West Park fountain
- No injuries reported in Holy Family Manor fire in Ross
- Man shot in Hill District
- Ramp projects across Western Pennsylvania to start this week
- Brookline 12-year-old crashes mother’s car
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Speck device monitors indoor pollution
- Mt. Lebanon native, Iraq war hero’s action goes unrewarded
- Falling bricks close 2 Squirrel Hill businesses