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Alumnus Gives $500,000 to Establish William DeTillo Scholarship

SSA alumni are invited to celebrate the life of Bill DeTillo on Thursday, Aug. 7, anytime after 3 p.m. at Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille, 2106 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15222. View Facebook event.

Alumnus Nick Coslov '92 has committed to donating $500,000 to Shady Side Academy to establish and seed the William DeTillo Scholarship Fund, named in honor of the former SSA Middle School English teacher who passed away on Aug. 1, 2014. The purpose of the scholarship is to fully fund tuition for qualified students who otherwise could not afford to attend Shady Side Academy.

Bill DeTillo in 1991
Bill DeTillo in 1991

William "Bill" DeTillo was an English teacher at SSA Middle School for 24 years (1971-1995). He was beloved by his students and remembered as a fun, caring and compassionate teacher. Former students fondly recall Mr. DeTillo's "Aardvark Club," in which he nicknamed each student for a different animal. Faculty colleagues remember DeTillo as a fine teacher, writer and grammarian who had high standards for his students. DeTillo also founded and developed the Middle School drama program, which continues to thrive today.

DeTillo kept in touch with many former students via Facebook. On July 28, he posted on Facebook that he was fighting a losing battle with cancer, saying goodbye. More than 1,000 people responded to his post in less than 48 hours, including many former SSA students. People posted their favorite pictures of DeTillo and sent messages of encouragement, love and support.

Coslov, who attended Shady Side from kindergarten to grade 12, had Mr. DeTillo as a seventh grade English teacher and a homeroom teacher. He recalls DeTillo's classroom being a respite of calm in an intense academic atmosphere.

"I always found Mr. DeTillo to be a compassionate teacher and human being," said Coslov. "He really connected with his students and had a way of making every student feel like they were his favorite. The rapport he still has with his former students is quite extraordinary. I thought this scholarship was the perfect way to honor him."

Nick Coslov '92
Nick Coslov '92

Coslov spoke with DeTillo via phone on July 30. DeTillo expressed his gratitude to Coslov for establishing the scholarship, saying it was the dream of any teacher to have his name attached to the place where he dedicated his life's work. DeTillo also shared that he felt he learned as much from his students about life as he ever taught them.

Coslov graduated from SSA in 1992 and earned a bachelor's degree from Duke University in 1996. He is currently the chief executive officer and partner at Storage Deluxe, a Manhattan-based owner, developer and manager of self-storage properties. Previously, he was the founder and CEO of AutoBody America and worked as an investment banker. Nick and his wife, Nicole, reside in New York City with their 3-year-old twin boys, Drew and Cameron.

"Shady Side really prepared me well for college, and I made some of my closest friends in life there" said Coslov. "I felt this was a great way to give back to Shady Side, to Pittsburgh and to kids. Through this scholarship, I'm hopeful we'll be able to identify students who have a lot of untapped ability and give them the opportunity to achieve their full potential."

To make a gift to the William DeTillo Scholarship Fund, visit www.supportssa.org and enter "William DeTillo Scholarship Fund" in the comments box. Or send a check payable to Shady Side Academy with "William DeTillo Scholarship Fund" in the memo line to: Alumni & Development Office, Shady Side Academy. 423 Fox Chapel Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15238.

Read the July 31 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article about DeTillo.

Read Bill DeTillo's classified obituary, includng memorial service information.

To submit an idea for a website news story, please email jroupe@shadysideacademy.org.