Age 81, of Glenshaw, died on September 8, 2020. He was the first child of Dr. DeWitt and Mrs. Agnes Kissell. Fred was a contented resident of Pittsburgh all of his life-- born here, attending schools here, working a lifetime here and now dying here. After getting a PhD at Pitt, he worked for the US Bureau of Mines, conducting engineering research aimed at reducing the coal dust that causes coal miners’ black lung disease and reducing the methane gas in coal mines that contributes to mine explosion disasters. His research had some measure of success as measured by the awards he received and numerous speaking invitations he was extended to international conferences. In 1994, he was the recipient of the Society of Mining Engineers Eavenson award, given annually to the resident of the US who has contributed the most to the coal mining industry.
In his private life, Fred was an adventurous fellow who enjoyed travelling the world, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. In college, he went white-water boating, rock climbing and cave exploring. After college, when he had the means, he bought a hot-air balloon, often flying it to an altitude of 15,000 feet.
Fred said he had two really great adventures in his life. One was an overnight 300 mile helium balloon flight he took over South Dakota. Unlike hot air balloons, helium balloons drift in total silence. Flying through the night sky was like passing through an infinitely large, starry black boulder. From his position inside the wicker basket and high above the blanket of clouds covering the earth, he watched the sun rise the next morning. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
His other great adventure was exploring an ice cave in the Western US. This limestone cave was situated at an extremely high altitude and the temperature underground remained below freezing year-round. Over decades and possibly centuries, layers of frost coated the cave walls eventually forming classic crystalline snowflake shapes, ranging in size from silver dollars to dinner plates. Like sunrise from a helium balloon, a snowflake the size of a dinner plate was a memory never to be forgotten.
Great as these adventures were, what he prized the most was his loving family—his beloved wife Chris, his stepsons Steve and Bart Sneddon, his grandkids Evander, Andy, and Parker Sneddon, and his siblings David and Grace Kissell. He even liked his in-laws. Time with them was prized. Leaving them was his only regret.
Fred’s ashes will be scattered into Otter Creek, in the center of a magically beautiful wilderness area in West Virginia. It is a place where he most keenly felt the grandeur and majesty of our Creator.
A memorial service will be held for Fred approximately a year from now. Look for an announcement at the end of summer, 2021. Arrangements made by PERMAN FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATION SERVICES, INC., Shaler Twp. If desired, donations in his memory made be made to the Sylvan Canoe Club, 112 Arch Street, Verona, PA 15147-1006 or to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 425 East 100 South, Salt Lake City, UT, 84111 or https://suwa.org/ Both are organizations that support protecting our natural environment for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
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