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Ronald DiLorenzo, Ph.D.: 1931-2018

Ronald "Rocco" DiLorenzo, Ph.D., a professor emeritus in the Department of English, died Friday, Oct. 5. He was 86.

After earning his undergraduate degree in English from Oberlin College in 1953, DiLorenzo went on to earn his master’s (1958) and doctoral (1968) degrees in English from the University of Iowa.

Ronald DiLorenzo, Ph.D.

In 1969, Dr. DiLorenzo joined Saint Louis University as a faculty member in the Department of English for nearly three decades. He retired as professor emeritus June 30, 1999.

A specialist in 18th century literature, DiLorenzo taught a wide range of courses and also served as the department’s 1818 coordinator, building a strong network of partner schools in the area which enhanced both undergraduate and graduate recruitment.

Vincent Casaregola, Ph.D., professor of English, director of film studies and longtime colleague and friend of DiLorenzo, said he was much beloved by both students and colleagues.

“Rocco DiLorenzo was an incredibly dedicated member of the English faculty for close to 30 years, and his generous spirit and kindness helped many a colleague and student,” Casaregola said.  “I will never forget his warm smile, a smile that would light up the whole room and that represented a true sense of concern and affection for all with whom he worked.”

Fellow English professor emeritus Raymond Benoit, Ph.D., also recalled DiLorenzo’s rapport with his students as well as his love for learning and teaching.

“He made his students laugh a lot,” Benoit said. “I know because he taught a class next to mine and I would have to pause frequently. I wish I had had his humor. His office in Xavier was a labyrinth of books. He was very widely read and ahead of his time in his approach to lit, always drawing pointedly on popular culture and film.”  

DiLorenzo is survived by his wife of 65 years, Bernadette; children Carrie, Leo, Gabrielle, Nicolas, Maria, Rachel, Sarah, Isaiah and Samuel; and 13 grandchildren, as well as many friends and colleagues.

Visitation will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 3140 Meramec Street, in St. Louis. A funeral Mass will follow at 12:30 p.m.