EU reflects on the passing of Associate Professor Thomas Lipinski

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 at 5:29 PM

A native of Pittsburgh, Assistant Professor Thomas Lipinski was a part of the Edinboro University community for nearly two decades before his death on Sept. 6. Lipinski was 63 years old.

Beginning his time at Edinboro in 2000, Lipinski was first hired as a full-time, temporary instructor. In 2001, he was given a tenure-track position, earning full tenure in 2006. Between 2011 and 2014, Lipinski was the department chair for the university’s English and philosophy programs. 

Teaching freshman composition, creative writing, screenwriting and advanced screenwriting, Lipinski was “well-liked by students” and a “beloved” member of the campus community, wrote Interim President Michael Hannan in an email last week. 

“Tom was an honest and direct person who approached life and all its challenges fearlessly, with determination and humor,” Dr. Mary Pannicia Carden said of her late colleague. “There was nothing false or pretentious about him.”

Lipinski, who was described by Dr. Jeffery Bartone as “a gregarious person with a big booming laugh,” was a published author whose works focused on crime and detective fiction. Often, his work was set in his hometown. 

“Lipinski was a ‘Pittsburgher’ through and through,” said Professor John Repp. “He embodied many of the virtues of that city’s working-class history and sensibility: blunt honesty, hard-won humor, instinctive generosity of spirit, a deep sense of fair play, unwavering loyalty to those worthy of it, and utter disdain for pretension.” 

“His gift for storytelling translated easily into his detective novels,” Robert Hass, an Edinboro professor, whose office was next to Lipinski, said. In both his personal and professional work, Hass said Lipinski was “refreshingly candid and genuine.”

His work “Death in the Steel City” won the Shamus Award, “an award given by the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) for best detective fiction genre novels and short stories of the year,” Hannan wrote. 

“One of the things I appreciated most about Tom was that he had one foot in academia and the other one in the workaday world,” Dr. Roger Solberg said, reflecting on Lipinski’s life and work. “His experience with the grittier side of life not only informed the novels he wrote,” Solberg continued, “but it gave him a no-nonsense approach to his role as department chair.”

Repp, who worked with Lipinski for eight years, spoke kindly on his friend’s morality and integrity after news of his death.

“I many times witnessed him doing right when it was hard to do right and when most other people would have given up doing right,” Repp said. “Like all of us, he had his flaws, but unlike far too many of us, you never had to guess what those were, and he never tried to escape their consequences. He’s on the short list of people I’d want alongside me in the proverbial dark alley.”

The J. Bradley McGonigle Funeral Home and Crematory in Sharon, Pennsylvania made arrangements for his funeral, which was hosted on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Hannah McDonald can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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