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Cover Story: Legacy of Distinction« Back to Page 1
Dr. Carver loved delivering babies, and there was no OB-GYN in town, so she did a residency and became board-certified in that specialty. “I like obstetrics because it’s a happy specialty,” says Carver. “Everybody’s joyful when you bring a baby into the world. They are beautiful little creatures.”
During the decades of her practice, she saw other health care gaps—and responded. She was largely responsible for setting up the area’s first mental health clinic and first family planning clinic. “People just didn’t have access to these services, and they needed them,” she recalls.
Dr. Carver retired from practice in 1997. Today, her macular degeneration limits some activities, but not reading—a special Library of Congress program, through Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library, provides an abundance of materials on tape. She walks across the street from her home—still in Uniontown—to volunteer in the professional library of the hospital, where she also serves on the board. And she can’t go anywhere in the county without one of her moms, dads, or babies—many of them grown up with babies of their own—greeting her warmly.
Dr. Carver is frank about the changes she’s seen in American medicine: “I loved what I did, but the practice of medicine isn’t what it used to be,” she says. “Insurance companies have intruded into the doctor-patient relationship and have changed that relationship—for the worse. I understand why many doctors are giving up obstetrics, but it’s a shame.”
Dr. Margaret Carver M.D.
HACKMAN, REDFORD—AND CHUCKLES
Breaking the gender barrier in the control room
She’s done improv with Gene Hackman, taught at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, and directed what TV Guide called “the funniest episode ever on television.”
Joan Kugell Darling was a dramat at Carnegie Tech for three years in the mid-'50s before transferring to the University of Texas. She began acting, and then went to work for Mary Tyler Moore’s production company.
At a time when virtually no women directed television, she was unexpectedly asked to direct the famous “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show because the regular director didn’t find humor in the script, which focuses on Mary’s uncontrollable laughter at the funeral of a clown. Darling found the humor, helped doubters in the cast and crew see the humanity in the episode, and supported Mary Tyler Moore as she created a legendary performance.
Darling won an Emmy for the episode and went on to a rich and varied career that has included another Emmy (for acting), a Director’s Guild Award, and multiple other honors.
“Success isn’t what I once thought it was,” Darling says. “It was great to have the guys at the studio gate know our names. But that doesn’t sustain you. The only things that last are the joy in the work, and the value in being an artist.”
Today, Darling and her husband, playwright Bill Svanoe, teach theater at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The schedule keeps them in touch with next-generation talent, and allows time to do workshops—including the Director’s Lab at Sundance—and to act, direct, and guest-lecture.
“I feel an enormous debt to Carnegie Tech,” she says. “I learned voice, speech, and movement. But the strongest thing I took away is an ethic about finding your heart and soul, about learning how to express what you want to express. That’s the joy in the work.”
Sometimes young actors and actresses ask Darling for advice. Here’s what she says: “Never, ever step up with anything less than your best. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a starring performance or a cold reading. Always do your utmost.”
Joan Kugell Darling
AN EYE FOR ART
Librarian builds superb collection
A collection of African-American art is drawing excellent reviews as it tours the country—and it exists because of the unerring eye of an alumna and her husband.
In 1944, after Vivian Hewitt (then Davidson) earned what would today be an M.L.S. degree from Carnegie Tech’s Library School, she became the first African-American librarian in Pittsburgh’s public library system. She later became the first African-American President of the Special Libraries Association, but she says, “I have never been comfortable with being the ‘first’ or ‘only.’ It brings great pressure: if I don’t succeed, others will be denied. As a nation, we won’t be where we need to be until there are no more ‘firsts’ or ‘onlys’ where race is concerned.”
In Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and then Manhattan, her career thrived, culminating in the position of chief librarian at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 1978, Hewitt received an honorary LHD degree from her undergraduate alma mater, Geneva College.
Along the way, Hewitt and her husband John, an editor of professional journals, traveled for business and pleasure. They visited galleries, studios, and salons, buying art they loved. Though their means were modest, their taste was impeccable, and during 50 years they built a collection that includes some of today’s best-known African-American artists—for example, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Carnegie Mellon alumna Ann Tanksley.
In 1998, the couple sold 58 pieces of their extensive collection to Bank of America, which decided that the works would tour the U.S. before being housed permanently at a new African-American Cultural Center in Charlotte, NC, where Bank of America is headquartered.
Hewitt, now 86 and widowed, still lives in Manhattan. She is a docent at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and she travels, reads—and does water aerobics. For this retired librarian, every day is a learning experience: “A day isn’t complete unless you’ve added some new information to your storehouse of knowledge,” she says. “You must keep learning.”
Hewitt is often asked how to begin buying art. Her response: “I tell people to buy where they live; every community has good artists, and you can get to know them and their work. So buy where you live—and, even more importantly, buy what you love.”(Continued …)