The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE — Daniel Lee Kuruna, 93, of Selinsgrove, passed away at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2013, following a brief illness.
He was born July 22, 1919, in Pittsburgh, a son of the late Ivan and Mary Kuruna. He was preceded in death by his wife Virginia, whose passing ended a marriage of 67 years.
Dr. Kuruna grew up in Pittsburgh where he earned a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and his master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his doctorate in art education from Penn State University.
He was a World War II veteran, technically assigned to the 380th Engineer Combat Battalion as an “Information Specialist.” He saw combat in Europe and in the Pacific and participated in the occupation of Japan. He was a combat engineer who was cross trained in chemical warfare and high altitude reconnaissance. During the war, he organized a special training school where he taught college mathematics, history, Japanese and Russian.
Because he had already graduated college prior to World War II, his early teaching career included instructing GIs. His signature mustache was grown at the time, “so they could tell me from my students.” He taught high school art in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and went on to college level teaching at Mansfield University, was the Chairman of the Art Department at West Chester University in PA and retired as the Chairman of the Art Department of Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill.
Always a promoter of art education, he taught adult art classes for many years at the Arts and Crafts Center in Pittsburgh. He was a partner in the Art Rental Gallery where people could rent artwork for their home with a purchase option. His teaching career focused on the development of student teaching opportunities in Pennsylvania and Illinois.
As an active painter and sculptor, he exhibited in the USA and in Europe and was part of the Pittsburgh group of post war artists who were responsible for the “Pittsburgh Renaissance.” He chaired the Pittsburgh International Art biannual exhibition for years and has an award winning lithograph in the Library of Congress.
He and his wife, Virginia, retired to Pittsburgh to enjoy the city they loved with friends and family. They were able to travel in Europe extensively, continuing a priority of traveling which they also did with their children, visiting 35 states as a family.
In addition to his sister, Katherine Kiray, he is survived by his daughters, Tina Lipkin and Darya Kuruna and son, Daniel and his wife, Christine; and six grandsons, Daniel IV, Nathan, Benjamin, Theodore, Jeremy and Maxfield; and one great-grandson, Laszlo.
A visitation and a memorial service will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. Thursday the John F. Slater Funeral Home, at 4201 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh.
A military burial will follow at St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Cemetery.
Contributions may be made to the Salvation Army, because during the war, “their coffee to the GIs was free.”