Springdale man bested adversity to help others
Joshua Aiken was hoping to put aside the adversities that plagued his young life in order to reach out to others facing similar situations.
Mr. Aiken, who was badly injured in an auto accident at age 15, was studying for his master's degree in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh at the time of his death.
Joshua D. Aiken of Springdale, a nursing supervisor at Harmar Village in Cheswick, died on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008, in his home. He was 34.
"Joshua understood first hand what it meant to face adversities and to be able to go on and lead a productive life," said his father, James A. Aiken, pastor of the Shady Avenue Christian Assembly Church in East Liberty.
"Joshua was working as a nurse at the Harmar Village, while attending master classes at the University of Pittsburgh," his father added. "Once he received his master's degree in counseling, he planned to go into practice and counsel those who were facing their own adversities in life."
His son's injuries in the 1996 accident, compounded by his juvenile diabetes, left Joshua Aiken in a wheelchair, his father added.
"Since the accident, Joshua had 28 operations and had to be resuscitated three times. And for the next 12 years he used a wheelchair."
Monroe recalled his son as a gentle man who had a great sense of humor and enjoyed making people laugh.
"Throughout his life, my son was devoted to his faith and to his family, which gave him the hope and inspiration to carry on," his father said.
Joshua's game was basketball, said his father, who recalled the years his son was a member of the basketball team at Greater Works Academy in Monroeville.
"After the accident, he played basketball with the Pittsburgh Steelwheelers, a wheelchair basketball team, and was able to travel with them throughout the country," his father added.
"In the last five years, with the help of metal crutches, Joshua began to walk. First he had to use two crutches and recently was able to walk with one."
Following graduation from Greater Works Academy, Joshua Aiken received his degree in nursing from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
Aiken recalled his son's love of music. "Although Joshua sang in our church choir for years, he also enjoyed contemporary music."
Mr, Aiken is survived by his wife, Erin Keddie Aiken; his parents, James A. and Kathryn Cauley Aiken; and brothers, James, a Navy officer based in Hawaii, Todd of Cranberry, Sean of Ross, Matthew of Indiana, Pa., and Peter of Lancaster County.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Burket-Trudy Funeral Home Cremation & Alternative Services, 421 Allegheny Ave., Oakmont.
A service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Shady Avenue Christian Assembly Church, 242 Shady Ave., East Liberty.