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Romance Languages professor Joseph Figurito dies

(8-12-2004) — A funeral Mass was celebrated Wednesday at Sacred Heart Church in Roslindale for Prof. Emeritus Joseph Figurito (Romance Languages), a long-time faculty member and devotee of the arts who died of cancer in St. Elizabeth's Medical Center on Aug. 6. He was 82.

Prof. Figurito taught a number of Italian literature and language courses during his 52-year teaching career at Boston College, which began in 1947, and also taught undergraduate and graduate level classes in French and Spanish.

His love of the arts, which he displayed as the leader of a faculty music ensemble and as an amateur playwright and director, made Prof. Figurito a well-known figure on campus, said his colleagues.

"He was one of the most devoted, active and self-sacrificing members of the Boston College community," said Asst. Prof. Franco Mormando, chairman of the Romance Languages department. "He had a love of the University and a desire to serve BC. He helped make it the great place that it has become.

"He was one of those incredible, old-fashioned 'Renaissance Men' who knew how to do everything," Mormando said. "He had a great big love of life."

Prof. Figurito was the long-time moderator of the Boston College Italian Academy, and wrote and directed four plays that the club performed on campus. An accomplished violinist, he organized the Boston College faculty orchestra in the 1950s and played with them for many years. He was an aficionado of opera, and among the many courses that he instituted was Literature and Opera.

Prof. Figurito also served as a spotter for the public address announcer at Boston College football games from 1959 through the 2003 season and was a marshal at Commencement Exercises for many years. Last fall, Prof. Figurito crowned his long and distinguished teaching career with the publication of his final book, Gioacchino Da Fiore amd Dante Alighieri on Moral Renewal, a scholarly interpretation of selected parts of Dante's Divine Comedy that he completed after nearly 25 years of research, translation and writing on the subject.

"Maybe it was a love affair": Joseph Figurito talked about his career at BC in a 1998 Boston College Chronicle profile on 50-year employees.

Prof. Figurito came to Boston College as a freshman in 1941, but left school to serve as a military intelligence officer with Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. He completed his undergraduate degree at Boston College after the war, and in 1947, was offered a University faculty position while he was completing his master's degree work at Middlebury College. He also earned a doctorate in modern languages at Middlebury.

A scholar of international renown, Prof. Figurito, who also taught courses for 25 years at Harvard Extension College, was twice honored by the Italian government for his work. He received the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Silver Medal of Culture in 1962 and the Cross of the Knight of the Order of Merit in 1968.

Prof. Figurito is survived by his wife of 48 years, Mary T. (Calarese), and several nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Figurito Scholarship Fund, in care of the Rev. James A. Woods, SJ, College of Advancing Studies at Boston College.

Interment will be in St. Michael Cemetery.


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