Dwight Peck's personal website

Dr Joe Pirri


Our very good friend, John 'Joe' Pirri, passed away on 6 August 2023, after a long illness that he bore with equanimity and constant good cheer in our frequent correspondences with him. We miss him sorely, as we're sure that Teny and Nareg do, and many others as well.

A memorial collection of some of the most representative photos on this website

[Click on photos to link to their source pages. Small purple quotations under photo captions come from the original pages. This page is presently a work in progress.]

Dr Joe and young Nareg, Trient Glacier, 1986

On the way to the Cornettes de Bise, November 1986

(Dr Joe 'pauses for reflection, and some lunch, near the farm of La Calaz, with the Cornettes de Bise peeking down upon him from the top left.')

American College of Switzerland, ca 1987

('Librarian keeps a cautious eye on Academic Dean Pirri')

The Swiss Alpine Pass Route, July 1999: Classic Photo Pose (with Charlie Berman)

('The Fog Clears Briefly. Look Behind You, Boys! There's the Richetlipass!!!!')

The Richetlipass (2261m) on Day Three of the Swiss Alpine Pass Route, July 1999

At the Blümlisalphütte (2837m) on Höhturli, September 1999

('Dean Pirri smiles almost beatifically, whilst striving to hold up the side of the Blümlisalp Hütte in the chilly rain.')

Dr Pirri gazing up at the cross on the top of Mont Sâla, soon to be scrambled up to, December 2001

On top of Mont Pelé, also in December 2001

An adventurous snowshoer in the forest of Grande Rolat, January 2002 . . .

. . . exulting --

('Dr Pirri parading his USA suspenders and patriotism and . . . ')

-- but seconds later, a misstep

('. . . falling straight down into a hole in the forest floor.')

'Falling straight down into a hole in the forest floor' (January 2002)

('Whilst Dr Pirri labors to extract himself from the forest floor, his colleague(s) dart about in all unhelpful directions seeking still funnier camera angles.')

Early summer enthusiasm, Le Correntine and Crêt de Mondisé, 2 May 2002

At the Col de Verne, on the way to the Cornettes de Bise, September 2002

Les Paccots and Dent de Lys, October 2002

Grand Cunay, January 2003

('Life's not as bad as everyone says, is it?')

Mont Tendre, January 2003

('Never content to follow the tourist routes, the hikers wander almost aimlessly through the karst hole country between the Cabane of Cunay and Mont Tendre, as the afternoon wanes and the winds rise a bit more.')

En route towards the Crêt de la Neuve, January 2003

('The unsuccessful 25 January expedition to Crêt de la Neuve was turned back by fine weather; we'll seek a later opportunity to conquer the summit.')

Also on the way to the Crêt de la Neuve a week later, February 2003

('The Earth tries to swallow Dr Pirri, but then reconsiders, and gags him back up again.')

Near the Tearoom de la Plage, February 2003

('Dr Pirri unwisely walking out of his snowshoe in a narrow combe . . . and then plunging into a hole. Required by his quaint notion of self-sacrifice.')

'A chilly and very windy 16 March 2003, Dr Pirri on the Pointe de Fin de Château'

At the Tearoom de la Plage, April 2003

Mock-philosophical discussions near Les Echadex farm, April 2003

('Still another argument about the War on Terror')

Preparing to scramble up through the Grottes de Naye, September 2003

('Half-demented Dr Pirri prepares to leap into the Grottes de Naye.')

Mont de Bière Devant, December 2003

(Dr Joe 'sees something that the rest of us cannot see'.)

Teny and Joe on a cold day near the Sèche de Gimel, December 2003

Stone walls are no obstacle, near Grand Cunay, January 2004

With Lisa Durham, lunchtime, Le Platforme hike, January 2004

Le Noirmont, on the French-Swiss border, February 2004

(Joe 'reaches the top (1567m) in a somewhat mortifying sleety sort of weather spasm, and turns to gaze out upon France. Not presently visible, however.')

The same

(Former Dean and Former President Pirri pauses on a flattish area on the SE side of Noirmont to admire an icy tree.)

The neverending search for big holes in the forest, the far side of Le Noirmont, February 2004

('Dr Pirri spies a diversion')

Perpetual merriment: Mont de Bière Devant, March 2004 (photo by Lisa)

('Hikers trading humorous anecdotes and speculations about G W Bush; obvious merriment')

Crêt de la Neuve, April 2004

('Dr Pirri takes up his station at the cross, for a quick photo, [then] heads off for Happy Hour as well at a gallop')

Le Noirmont, January 2005, with Kristin

('An incandescent moment')

An unguarded step in the trackless forest of Grande Rolat, January 2005

('The downside of wandering in the limestone forests of the Jura is that sometimes we fall down into big holes. Here, Dr Pirri went only halfway down an unforeseen hole in the forest floor and luckily for him could still be hauled out again with a great deal of reluctant effort and some petulant comments.')

Successfully extracted

('Petulant comments ')

Characteristically off-piste in the forest around Les Echadex farm, March 2005

('He leads us with a firm sense of where the best possibilities lie and with the forceful decision-making that often leads to success.')

Attempting the impossible, in the forest near the Cabane de Cunay, April 2005

('Here "Guide" pauses a while, planning our next moves, whilst we go on around . . . ')

Joe and Teny above Iffigenalp, August 2005, on the way to . . .

. . . the Rawilpass (2429m).

Near Mont de Bière, January 2006

('Dr Pirri's plan for getting down this porous ridge is clearly a bad one.')

('Now we can agree on that.')

Near the Mondion farm above Bassins, March 2006

('Our trainer/guide has decided that it's time to head back home, down the Route des Montagnes.')

Back to Le Noirmont, March 2006

('We've sent our assistant ahead a bit to locate the second summit of Le Noirmont (1567m) and quickly verify that, and, if he's got it right, to wave us ahead. ')

Assault on the Pointe de Poêle Chaud, April 2006

('Dr Pirri, enjoying the extraordinary scenery, struggles to figure out how to use his camera.')

Dr Pirri exploring the Grotte de Chenuz, part of the Mont Tendre massif, December 2006

A stone wall demonstration of remarkable agility, near the Couvert de la Sèche de Gimel, January 2007

(The next photo caption on that page: 'That leap didn't work out, so now Dr Pirri is trying a different method.')

Another stone wall in the forest of Grande Rolat, January 2007


Sustaining the stone wall motif, February 2007

('So when finally a good wet snowstorm hits, on 24-25 February 2007, Dean Pirri is more than happy to get stuck on top of another stone wall in the Jura.')

Later the same day, a welcome change in the weather

('. . . there is little in this world that Dean Pirri enjoys more than a good, wet snowstorm. ')

Marching up to the Pointe de Poêle Chaud, with our Additional Participant, Christine, on a very windy day in March 2007

Mont de Bière Devant the hard way, November 2007

('Why go in through the front lobby when the servants' entrance is right here?')

('Did you bring the lunch?')
('No, I thought you . . . Never mind.')

Sprinting up the hill above Les Echadex, February 2008

('-- Are you coming? Or what?')

('End of the day, everybody exhilirated, nobody crippled in the knees -- a good day!')

Adaptive Management in the Gorges de Moinsel and La Dunanche, March 2008

('Most of this snow is new this weekend, and the springtime creeks are still running freely. Like this one')

Suiting up on a potentially rewarding day, above La St-George, January 2009

('This is definitely one of the best days we've had in a long time -- we're building up our aggressive enthusiasm by shouting out football morale builders like "Kill! kill!" and "When the going gets tough, the tough get going", and "Hoopla! Ho!", which translates as "Hop! Suisse!".')

Tons of new snow: Dr Joe is checking out the depth, on the way up the Grand Cunay, March 2009

('A transcendental experience, a beautiful day, the sun peeking through from time to time, on a trackless snowy hillside. A nearly trackless snowy hillside.')

We're wandering dead lost in the forest of Grande Rolat, on a grim but fun day, December 2010.

('Just because we're carrying a piece of old map of the region, Joe looks to us for a decision.')

A rainy day out, heading first up to Mont de Bière Devant, January 2012 . . .

('Dr Pirri and former student Christine, preparing for the long, wet slog uphill to the top')

. . . and returning by the cowshed on Mont de Bière proper (photo by Christine's German friend Ann-Sophie)

Wondering where the snow's gone, in the forest of Fréchaux, March 2012

('A tacky little secondary home in the forest of Fréchaux')

Following along in Kristin's search for her favorite hole in the forest in the middle of the Sèche de Gimel, May 2012

('Teetering, briefly')

Wandering hopelessly, trying to find the Fontaine Valier in the forest by Marchairuz, February 2013

('Disagreements about the way forward')

Joe, Kristin, and friend Christine wandering all round in the forest of La Foirausaz, February 2013

('Despite all that, the sun's out again (briefly) so we're celebrating . . .')

Professor Pirri is leading our party all round the houses from the Col du Marchairuz, March 2013 . . .

. . . and Teny and Kristin (and the camera wielder) pretty much have to follow along.

('. . . whilst catching up on family matters.')

Our guide is reorienting himself and will soon direct us onward, in forests around Marchairuz, March 2013

('And to top it off, we know more or less where we are now . . . But [pause] . . .')

Leading our party through a vile storm around La Perrause, on the far side of the Col du Marchairuz, December 2013

Our guide, in wet weather in the trackless forest of Grande Rolat, January 2015

('It's okay, he was only kidding.')

All prepped up for today's target destination, Mont Roux, February 2015

('Dr Joe has consented to guide us once again, and here he is checking out all his winter gear. Except for his backpack, which inadvertently he left in the car.')

Joe leads off on our nostalgia trip back to the forest of Grande Rolat near Marchairuz, February 2016

('Inexhaustible, and still enthusiastic')

A woodland hike to the Le Sollier farm, above La Givrine, in lots of new snow, March 2016, and one of our party has somehow forgotten to bring his poles.

('Against all expectations, and without skipoles')

New snow in May 2016, and back to Le Noirmont

('Sprinting, almost; indefatigable')

New tracklessnesses in the forest of Grande Rolat, January 2017

('Admitting to ourselves that we're hopelessly lost')

The Chalet de la Croix, forest of Grande Rolat, December 2017

('The Chalet de la Croix (1333m), just where it's supposed to be, in its own clearing on a little knoll')

A mishap near the shed at Mont de Bière, March 2018

('Tense seconds pass. Never one to accept defeat gracefully.')

Teny and Joe with us in Piacenza, Italy, October 2018

('Teny and Joe and their Personal Assistant (PA)')

Relaxing, and grinning, in the village of Brugnello, Italy, October 2018

('Our party, or most of it')

The sometimes frustrating search for snow, near the Col de Givrine, December 2018

A very cold and windy day, with several kilometres of a biting, sleeting headwind, February 2019

('Dr Joe is sporting wads of protective kleenex standing in for the lost lens of his glasses.')

Joe and Teny with us, viewing Hadrian's Mausoleum (the Castel Sant'Angelo) in Rome, November 2022

On the roof of the Castel Sant'Angelo (Vatican in the background), November 2022

Piazza Navona, Rome, 2022

John Joseph Pirri passed away in Aubonne, Switzerland on 6 August 2023, after a three year battle against cancer. He was born in 24 June 1936 in Endicott, New York, USA. Most recently, Dr Pirri was Adjunct Professor in Human Rights, Literature, and Communication at Webster University Geneva. He received his PhD from the University of Madison, Wisconsin, with a dissertation on the plays of W. B. Yeats, and has served as a professor and academic administrator at universities in Jordan, Lebanon, and Switzerland, including as Chairman of the Humanities Department at The Lebanese American University and as Dean for Academic Affairs at the American College of Switzerland. His most recent areas of scholarship and teaching were cinematic depictions of genocide and ethical decision making.

Dr Pirri is survived by his wife Teny Simonian and son Nareg.

R.I.P. Joe, and our love to Teny

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Begun 11 August 2023, last modified 1 Octobert 2023.

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