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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Kamalani Akeo talks with members of the womens volleyball coaching staff in 2021.
Kamalani Akeo: An unsung hero contributing to the success of Pitt volleyball
By Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer • 10:10 am

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Kamalani Akeo talks with members of the womens volleyball coaching staff in 2021.
Kamalani Akeo: An unsung hero contributing to the success of Pitt volleyball
By Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer • 10:10 am

Family and Pitt community celebrate Mildred Miller Posvar’s life

The+celebration+of+Mildred+Miller+Posvar%E2%80%99s+life+in+Heinz+Memorial+Chapel+on+Sunday+afternoon.
Bronco York | Staff Photographer
The celebration of Mildred Miller Posvar’s life in Heinz Memorial Chapel on Sunday afternoon.

Mildred Miller Posvar held many roles throughout her life — opera singer, professor at Carnegie Mellon University and wife, to name a few. Lisa Posvar Rossi, Mildred’s daughter, said her mother also avidly enjoyed Pitt sports and considered herself a big fan. 

“She never missed a football game,” Rossi said. “She had a whole wardrobe of blue and gold. When she was still singing she would schedule her shows around Pitt football games.” 

Over one hundred family, friends and community members gathered at Heinz Chapel Sunday afternoon for a celebration of Mildred Miller Posvar’s life. Posvar died on Nov. 29, 2023, shortly before she would have turned 99. Her husband was Wesley Posvar, former Pitt chancellor from 1967 to 1991. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 75.

John Eaton, director of Opera at University of North Texas, began the remarks at Sunday’s service.

“She was just as devoted to her family as she was her art,” Eaton said.

Mildred Posvar had many accomplishments within the local opera scene and beyond. In 1978, she founded the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, which aims to educate and develop an audience by performing popular operas in English. She holds the house record at the Met Opera for performing Cherubino in “The Marriage of Figaro” 61 times, according to the program distributed at the service. Mildred also served as a full time instructor at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music and retired at the age of 95.

Former Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg shared several remarks about Mildred.

Wes and Millie were academia royalty,” Nordenberg said. “Through the 51 years of their marriage she remained committed to Pitt and beyond. I know if Wes were here today he would say he couldn’t have made Pitt better without Millie.” 

Marina Posvar, one of Mildred’s daughters, recounted some positive memories she shared with her mother, including an overseas trip to Austria.

“She was so kind, full of life, and genuine,” Posvar said. “I remember one time I was 10 and her mom had died, and she saw I was concerned, so she brought me along to a movie set in Vienna and that was a fond memory.”

Some of Mildred’s former students from CMU performed at Sunday’s service alongside Pitt Men’s Glee Club. Dylan Garagozzo, a sophomore biochemistry major and a member of Pitt Men’s Glee Club, said he looks up to Mildred Posvar as a fellow musician. 

“I think it’s really inspiring, to see someone accomplish so much and to see someone with so much talent,” Garagozzo said. “I think she would have liked the song — I think she would have been honored that Glee Club was singing such an uplifting song to celebrate her life, because she did so much for the community.”

Aviva Radbord, a class of ‘72 Pitt alumna and fan of Mildred Posvar, first heard her sing in a music appreciation class at Pitt and has enjoyed her music ever since. 

“I thought it was a wonderful tribute to hear the songs I first heard of Mildred’s sung today,” Radbord said. “She exuded class, elegance, and talent and I saw that reflected today.” 

Wesley Posvar, son of the former chancellor and Mildred, feels that his parents were gracious and open-minded people.

“My parents were so grateful for everything that the University and the City did for them,” Posvar said. “My dad tried to be very open minded as chancellor. When students came with concerns, he would sit with them and talk it through. My mom was also inclusive like that.”

Anna Singer, a Pittsburgh opera singer and radio host for WQED, met Mildred when she was performing “The Crucible” and looked up to her.

“I went to see ‘The Crucible,’ and she sang the role of Elizabeth Proctor,” Singer said. “I knew instantly that she was an inspiration and a role model for me. She took the city of Pittsburgh in her heart, made sure she was one of them.” 

Mildred’s legacy is honored on campus with a scholarship in the music department for residents of Pennsylvania who are seniors. There is also the Mildred Miller voice competition hosted by Pittsburgh Festival Opera that singers from all over the country can compete in.

Both Marina Posvar and Garagozzo feel that one thing they can learn from Mildred is to “follow your dreams.”

“I think people could learn from her to follow your dreams and your passions,” Garagozzo said. “I thought it was really interesting to learn about her before we sang today. Mildred Posvar worked really hard in the Met Opera, and her legacy in the singing world is really impactful.” 

About the Contributor
Adrienne Cahillane, Senior Staff Writer