Remembering Bridget Pizzino
On June 20, our community lost a colleague, Bridget Pizzino. Bridget worked as an adjunct instructor in our English Department for eight years. Her husband, Guy Pizzino, is a full-time faculty member in Machine Tool/CNC in the School of BEPD. An obituary and photo of Bridget are online here, and a tribute wall includes remembrances.
I did not have the chance to meet or know Bridget. I do know her husband, Guy, and I know this has been a difficult year for him, with the loss of his wife and his mother in a span of five months. I went to Bridget’s funeral last weekend and had a chance to talk to Guy and to express condolences on behalf of the College.
Everything I have learned about Bridget tells me she was the kind of person all of us are proud to call our teammate. She cared deeply about students, her fellow faculty members, and of course her family and friends.
With their permission, I share here two remembrances written by Bridget’s English department colleagues:
From Mike Hill:
Professor Bridget Pizzino had a loud voice and an even louder laugh. If you were walking by her classroom or sitting in the library near the Writing Center, you might well hear her yelp out an exclamation of joy, praise, or surprise. You might hear a laugh that started as a gulp and ended as a bark. Obviously, these are not necessarily the sweetest things one could say about Bridget, a woman whose loving nature was apparent every time she sat with a single student for 30 minutes after class, but they are not negatives. If you knew Bridget, if you saw her in her classroom, helping writers in the Writing Center, listened to her in meetings, or just chatted with her in the halls, you knew a woman whose loud voice was only the most obvious marker of the love she brought to our campus.
Bridget was a long-time instructor in our English Department and was one of the original respondents in our Writing Center. Her willingness to learn new things, to try out new teaching methods, and to give everything she had to her students allowed her to make significant contributions to the culture of our department and our college. The most wonderful part of her teaching was her ability to sink every bit of attention and concern into the ways she listened to and responded to students. It was, perhaps, this dedication of attention to her students that allowed her to lose track of the sound of her laugh. For those that knew her, though, this laugh told you that Bridget was there, doing her job, and doing it well. I will miss her as a colleague and as a friend. And I think her for the joy she brought to our world.
I am not sure if Bridget was a fan of Walt Whitman, but this passage from Whitman’s “Song of Myself” brings me some comfort today. Rest in peace, dear Bridget.
From Chelsea Lonsdale:
Bridget Pizzino and I spent many hours together in the Writing Center over the last two years. Bridget’s laughter was contagious, and her voice exuded the energy, dedication, and compassion she brought to her work with students at HFC. Her favorite spot in the WC was in the orange chairs, where she’d spread out her grocery bag of snacks and piles of papers while she waited for students to come sit with her. Students loved Bridget – in fact, they often came looking for her specifically because of how welcome she made them feel. She’d sit with them side-by-side, carefully and thoughtfully tending to each sentence they had written. I remember what she said once - that our students are “thirsty” for kind but firm feedback on their writing and language skills - and she was more than happy to provide it.
I was lucky to get to know Bridget as well as I did. In the Fall semester, we took several walks around campus together, chatting about our shared experiences as graduate students at EMU, about challenges we had as instructors, and about our homes and our families. She was working on renovations in her kitchen then, and she often talked about how proud she was of her two adult children and who they had become. That semester proved to be especially difficult for all of us, especially Bridget, but she still showed up, ready to work, and ready to give her all.
What I admired most about Bridget, and what I will miss deeply, is her unapologetic sense of self. Bridget was honest, she was true, and she was loved. I always return to these words from poet Marie Howe when facing the end of someone’s life while mine continues on: “I am living, I remember you.” We are living, we will remember you, Bridget.
I find myself grateful and impressed, once again, by the high quality of people who choose to work at Henry Ford College, dedicating themselves to the success of students and the betterment of other people’s lives.
I am inspired by the lives of those to whom we have had to bid farewell in recent months. The best way we can honor them is to remember those elements of their character and personalities that make us smile, and encourage us to be our best selves.