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