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DiGiovanni, a senior in the University of Delaware College of Arts and
Sciences majoring in history with a concentration in American history,
passed away on May 18, while studying in the Morris Library. He was 66.
In a message to the campus
community, UD President Dennis Assanis said, “As we cope with the loss
of someone who was part of our Blue Hen family, I ask that you please
keep Stephen’s family and friends in your thoughts. As a student who was
enrolled in the University’s Over-60 Program, Stephen had a passion for
“Our condolences go out to Mr. DiGiovanni’s family and friends and to
the faculty and fellow students whose classes he enriched with his
inquisitive mind and enthusiastic attitude,” said Adam Cantley, dean of
students and assistant vice president for student support and advocacy.
“He was so near to accomplishing his longtime goal of getting his
bachelor’s degree, and I was privileged to inform his family that his
degree will be awarded posthumously.”
Higher education was a lifelong ambition for Mr. DiGiovanni after his
initial college education was interrupted by family obligations. Later
in life, he successfully completed the University of Delaware Paralegal
Certificate program and earned his associate’s degree in legal studies
with a concentration in criminal law from Widener University Law School.
He then enrolled at UD where he took challenging courses, including
calculus and physics. At the time of his death, he was completing his
final thesis paper on “The Reunification of Germany” and planned to take
his two remaining courses in German through the University's Study
Faculty in the University’s Department of History shared their reflections about Mr. DiGiovanni.
Jaipreet Virdi, associate professor of history and coordinator of the Hagley Program:
"Stephen took my seminar on Disability in the American Experience in
spring 2020. It was a course outside of his comfort zone, but he was
eager to learn about histories of disabled people, especially when he
connected their activist movements to his experiences as a young man
observing the 1960s civil rights movements. I especially enjoyed our
post-lecture conversations in the hallway and appreciated his many
inquisitive questions. Though COVID-19 forced him to drop my class, his
contributions were regularly acknowledged through the semester by other
students and myself. His curious mind and love for learning will be
Bruce A. Bendler, adjunct professor of history: “Steve was my
student in two U. S. history courses. I remember him for his
enthusiasm, his diligence and his deep interest in U. S. history. He
was an inspiration to me and, I believe, his generally younger
classmates. I lament his passing.”
Dael Norwood, assistant professor of history: “I had the good
fortune to have Stephen in my spring 2021 course on antebellum America.
This was still in the all-online period of pandemic teaching, so we
never got to meet in person, which I regret. But even through the
difficulties of online learning, Stephen was a warm and welcoming
presence in class – thoughtful and kind in sharing his wide knowledge of
the world with the younger students, who had not yet seen much of it.
What I found particularly inspiring about Stephen was how he approached
learning, as a calling not just for himself, but for others: he spoke
often about how he discussed the sources and topics we were dealing with
in class with his family, and their reactions. His approach to history –
as shared conversation – is one I valued and will miss.”
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, Mr. DiGiovanni graduated from St.
James High School in 1975 and joined the U.S. Army. He received an
honorable discharge after being diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia. He
attended Widener University and studied accounting, leaving college to
tend to family obligations. He went on to a long career as a supervisor
with Conoco Philips/BP.
According to his obituary, he loved baseball and football, no matter
who was playing, and he was a huge fan of the Triple Crown races. He was
an entrepreneur at heart and, as a young man, sold seeds door to door,
cut grass and delivered papers. Later he started a handyman business in
his spare time. He was also interested in time and timepieces, sharing
his love for mechanical watches with his sons.
He is survived by his wife, Josephine (Pelaia) DiGiovanni; sons
Francis, and daughter-in-law Frances Fish, and Alexander Fish;
granddaughter, Annabelle Rose Fish; mother Roseann Geers; and siblings
Christine DeJohn and Maria Marshall (Michael).
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Thursday,
May 25, at the St. Thomas More Oratory, 45 Lovett Ave., Newark,
Delaware, where family and friends may visit beginning at 10 a.m.
Interment will be held in All Saints Cemetery, 6001 Kirkwood Highway,
Donations in Mr. DiGiovanni’s memory may be made to the St. Thomas
More Oratory, 45 Lovett Ave., Newark, DE 19711 or to the St. James High
School Alumni Association, 1499 East Ninth St., Eddystone, PA 19022.
To read his obituary or leave online condolences, visit Doherty Funeral Homes Inc.
For any student in need of support or assistance, Student Life provides a variety of resources.
Students can connect with the Center for Counseling and Student Development at 302-831-2141. In addition, 24-hour support is available through TimelyCare and the UD Help Line at 302-831-1001.
Staff members in the Office of the Dean of Students are available to
assist any student who wishes to talk. Call 302-831-8939 to schedule an
Mental health support for UD benefited employees is provided from ComPsych® GuidanceResources®. The link gives steps on how to access services or call 1-877-527-4742 for support.
Article by UDaily staff, photos courtesy of the DiGiovanni family
Published May 23, 2023