The memorial service on November 22 at 10:00am may be viewed live at:
Dr. Sonya “Sunny” Anne (Mugnani) Wilt, formerly of Greenville, PA and residing in The Villages, FL, passed away on October 30, 2021. She was born on March 7, 1937, in Charleroi, PA, to Carl and Emilie (Erickson) Mugnani. She graduated from West View High School in the North Hills of Pittsburgh in 1955. She earned her B.A. degree from Muskingum College in 1959, her M.A. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1962, and was conferred a Ph.D. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1975.
She was married to Roy W. Wilt, Sr. on August 6, 1960. She is survived by her husband, her two sons Roy Wilt, Jr. and Rod Wilt (Jill); her three grandsons, Tanner Ray Wilt, Robert Alan Wilt and Roy Wilt, III “Trey”; a great-grand daughter Ruth Victoria Leone; her two sisters Pamela Anne Elish (Naperville, IL) and Bonita Anne Mugnani (Santa Cruz, CA); and many nieces and nephews. She also took great pride in her relationship with Saba Wolteji, and her brother, Kirubel, who came to Thiel from Ethiopia in 1984. Sunny served as their advisor and immigration advocate. Saba, Kirubel and their entire family now reside in the Washington, DC area.
Sunny began her lifelong career at Thiel College as a professor of English and Communication in 1966. She founded and co-chaired the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences in 1991. She served as Advisor to the Endymion Yearbook, Lambda Sigma and the Alpha Chi organizations. Sunny was also a highly decorated coach of the Thiel Forensics Team who routinely competed against, and defeated, many of the larger colleges and universities across Pennsylvania and Ohio. She retired from active teaching in 1998, and was conferred Professor Emeritus status by the Board of Trustees.
As a Professor of Communication and Sciences Disorders, Sunny was instrumental in getting the department program off the ground, which included initiating the teaching courses that would prepare students for graduate programs at other schools and playing a pivotal role in the development of a video-taping mini-laboratory. She instituted a Major in Speech and Hearing. Her academic awards and service to Thiel College include the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award, attendance at the U.S./China Joint Conference on Education in Beijing, President of the Pennsylvania Forensics Association, Chair of the Department of English & Communication, Chair of the Honors Program, and Chair of the Institutional Planning and Curriculum Committee. She was a special mentor to many students over the years. The Dr. Sonya M. Wilt Outstanding Speech-Language Pathology Graduate Student of the Year Award is named in her honor. She loved Thiel College and all of her colleagues with whom she had the opportunity to teach and serve.
Sunny developed a renowned private speech pathology practice in the Greenville area. She served patients with various aphasia-related speech disorders, which positively impacted the lives of many people recovering from life-altering accidents and health related issues. Every patient of hers was part of her extended family. She was very active at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Greenville, PA, and served on the Board of Directors of the Bethesda Children’s Group Home in Meadville, PA and the Lutheran Services Society in Pittsburgh, PA.
Her memberships in professional organizations were many, including the American Speech Language Hearing Association, the Speech Communication Association, the PA Speech Language Association, the Eastern Communications Association and Avanta – The Virginia Satir Training Network. Sunny was a passionate fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a self-described “Wrestling Mom” who enjoyed watching her
sons compete for Greenville High School and Thiel College.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Dr. Sonya M. Wilt Endowed Scholarship c/o Thiel College, 75 College Avenue, Greenville, PA 16125.
A Memorial Service will be held at 10:00am, Monday November 22, 2021 in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1 Trinity Place, Greenville, with Rev. Brenda Martin, Pastor of the church, officiating. Family and friends will be received in the main sanctuary of the church on Sunday, November 21, 2021 from 4:00-7:00pm. All in attendance of services will be required to wear a mask. Inurnment will be in the columbarium of the church. Arrangements have been entrusted to Loutzenhiser-Jordan Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Inc., 366-368 S. Main St., Greenville.
The memorial service can be viewed live at: http://holytrinitygreenvillepa.com
Roy, Roy Jr., Rod and families,
I am so sorry to hear of Sunny’s passing. I have many fond memories of her through the years. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
Love to all,
I am so sorry to hear about Sunny’s passing. She helped me so much after my car accident, with outpatient therapy and when I was attending Thiel College. I loved and respected her and missed her when she moved away. My prayers are with all of you.
Roy Sr, Roy Jr, Rod & the Complete Family,
Our thoughts & prayers are with you, Roy Sr. & your complete family. May the beautiful memories that you shared with your wife, mother, grandmother, sister……be etched into your hearts forever. Sunny was always a very special lady to my mother when cleaned your home years ago. The heavens sure have gained a beautiful Angel this past week.
Our Deepest Sympathies,
Joseph L. & Anna Marie Fry
Dr. Wilt was one of my favorite professors at Thiel. I had her for several communication class and can certainly say my ease at doing public speaking is a result of her direction and commitment to helping me.
When the history of a community and of a college are written it is the icons who stand out. We lost one of those icons this week when we lost Dr. Sunny Wilt.
That Dr. Wilt was able to rise to the top of her field professionally while helping raise an incredible family is an accomplishment that would be noteworthy today but, given the era she accomplished the fete, truly triumphant. Coming of age in a time period when women were usually forced to choose career or family (with the pressure focused on the latter), Dr. Wilt managed to excel at both.
Her commitment to her studies and her compassion for her students inspired countless proteges to dream beyond their circumstances. Greenville and Thiel are both better places because Dr. Wilt chose us.
While she will be missed by her community, by the Thiel family, and especially her own family, we are all comforted knowing that as much as we loved her, God still loves her more. We are also comforted by the knowledge that icons are rarely forgotten and that she will live on for generations through the students she taught at Thiel, the lives she influenced through her church, and her amazing family. Our heart-felt condolences go out to Senator Wilt and the entire Wilt family.
To Sunny’s Family, Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss. I had the opportunity to work with Sunny @ the OP Center of UPMC Horizon where she and Nancy Biggins offered speech therapy to the patients. She was a fun-loving, caring, and wonderful lady. I pray your memories of her fill the void in the upcoming days ahead. She was a blessing to all who knew her.
Dear Roy, Roy Jr., Rod, and families,
Sunny was the most memorable faculty member I knew at Thiel, and she had a profound influence on my life. As a mediocre physics major and struggling athlete, she convinced me that I had talent as a speaker and helped me develop that talent in immeasurable ways. When I had to go to summer school at Thiel to make up for a failed class but didn’t have enough money for on-campus housing, she arranged for me to meet her beautiful mother, Ms. Mugnani, and rent a room in her home in Greenville for the summer. Sunny remained my model as a teacher and someone I strove to emulate throughout my academic career. She was also my friend. There is no one I admired more.
My deepest and most sincere sympathy to you and your families.
Rod I have just learned of the passing of your Mom. My prayers are with you and your family during these difficult times. Your Mom was one of my favorites at Thiel. She was extremely helpful to me in expanding my personal English capacity.
Rod and family,
Our deepest sympathies are extended to you during this difficult time as you adjust to the loss of someone so dear to you.
Roy, SR and family. So very sorry for your loss. You both made Theil special and rewarding. Fond memories of Sunny and Roy. God bless you and stay with you.
To the Wilts:
My thoughts are with all of you, as you celebrate the life of “Sunny’. My stroke will not allow me to be with you. but the best to all of you.
Roy and family,
We would like to express our deepest sympathy for your loss. Becky and I have you in our prayers and thoughts.
Sincerely Doug and Becky Riley
Roy and family – I was sorry to hear of Sunny’s passing. Sunny was a valued colleague with a passion for teaching and encouraging others to do their best. She was a outstanding role model for a junior “wet behind the ears” faculty member who joined Thiel in 1984.
With love and deepest sympathy to the Wilt Family:
Bob and I have so many fond memories of our friendship and many trips and cruises over the years. Friday nights in the 1950’s Betsy would pick Sunny up in Pittsburgh and head for Thiel College for the weekend. Such fun times! Then came weddings, babies, and finally we all ended up in Greenville. Sunny accomplished so much during her lifetime and put her heart and soul into academics earning her PHD in one year. She was devoted to her students and later to her clients. Her legacy will live on through her students and family members. Rest In Peace friend.
Roy and Family,
Deepest sympathy in the loss of Sunny. She was our inspiration! Peace, Terry and Deb Mariacher
To the entire Wilt Family,
My deepest condolences in the loss of Sunny. She was an inspiration and a guiding light for me at Thiel. I will always remember her sweet kindness and support and the many weekends, one summer, when I was able to go to the family getaway and cut the grass. The Wilt family always made me feel like part of their family and my heart grieves for your loss.
To the Sonya Wilt Family,
My deepest sympathy for the loss of Dr.(Sunny )Wilt. I was on one of her debate teams that won against Harvard, Yale and Princeton on a power matched debate at Penn State! Not only a great teacher but a kind and caring person to all her students, always wiling to fight on behalf of her students. Good memories and experiences.
With Kindest Regards,
James B. Crawford
Dear Dr. Wilt became a valued friend during the years I worked at St. Paul’s Health Care Center as a nurse – she involved me in the speech therapy of residents. It was amazing to see her kind and caring interactions, always with a smile!
Later at Thiel College she was one of my instructors in the Nursing program – was a great encouragement to me, nominating me to be a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society! I loved her!
Later, I moved to Florida, just minutes from The Villages!
So sorry for your loss of this precious woman! May God comfort the hearts of all who lioved and honored her!
Grace Keep, graduate of the Thiel Nursing Class of 1989