For almost 38 years of his adult life, Barry Lavery taught
photography/photojournalism at the Art Institute of
Pittsburgh. His teaching was marked by a dogged faith in his
students and dedication to them. Many of his students went on
to successful careers in all areas of professional photography,
but that was not his main goal. “I don’t teach photography as
much as I try to instill a sense of looking at the world and
oneself in a way that creates the kind of person that students
want to live with for the rest of their lives. If they learn about
the processes and techniques of photography along the way, all
During that time he also did social documentary work while
exploring the streets and generally hanging out in Havana, Port
au Prince, New York City, Rochester, N.Y and, of course,
Pittsburgh. In the backwaters of those cities he met
photographers Milton Rogovin, Nathan Lyons, Danny Lyon,
Ralph Gibson, Jill Freedman, Eddie Adams, Arnold Newman
and Timothy Greenfield Sanders, as well as friends of late
writers and artists like Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and
Wilhelm DeKoenig. His teaching was peppered with stories and conversations from those meetings.
After retiring in 2005, Lavery turned to another great love,
Nature. He worked as a volunteer, rehabilitating injured and
orphaned wild animals and photographing both flora and
fauna, especially his favorites, the raptors. Traveling, usually
with his wife, Katyna, he explored deserts of the Great Basin
and Sonora in search of species of interest including the
Mexican grey wolf and the Ferruginous Hawk.
In August of 2014, he underwent routine back surgery. A
month and three emergency surgeries later he awoke in a
rehabilitation/ recovery center in Oakland. There, with the
support of family, he relearned how to walk, speak, breathe
and try to remember what had happened to him. In the process
he received a new diagnosis: ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, an
incurable and fatal disease. He presently lives, wheel chair and
oxygen dependent, at his home in Pittsburgh, under the loving
care of his dedicated and heroic wife, Katyna.
OUR FINANCIAL NEED
Barry needs care 24/7 and Katyna supplies most of it. Professional nursing care cost (4-5 hours/day) - $1200/week.
Medicine, supplements, and and medical equipment - $200/week.
Transportation (wheel chair van) - $200/month.
Generator - $13,000.
We recently spent $8,000 to do some minimal fixing of major cracks in the house so that we could maintain heat.
SCDs to prevent blood clots in his legs - $1800.00
Housing: When they bought their house 9 years ago, Barry fell in love with it and said that "This is the house i want to die in." Now they struggle to meet mortgage payments. The house is equiped with an emergency generator for the frequent black-outs in their neighborhood, and a long ramp installed by the ALS foundation to get Barry out of the house and into a vehicle or for a wheel-chair stroll around the neighborhood. They are fighting to remain in the house for the rest of Barry's life (doctor's estimate = 1-2 years; Barry's estimate = 3 years; Katyna's determination = 5 years). To pay for nursing and maintain paying where we live, it is costing 11,000/month. If we were on welfare, the nursing would all be paid for. Medicaire pays for NO long-term care, whether at home or in a nursing facility. So far, the agencies we have reached out to have not helped. This can happen to anyone, and if you are a normal person who has worked all of your life, there is no safety net.
We are grateful to the ALS Chapter of Western Pennsylvania who provided a wheelchair ramp, a motorized wheelchair on loan, and a small nursing grant.
And we are forever grateful to all of you have found it in your heart to contribute. You have no idea how much it helps to know some people care.