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In Memoriam
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Katherine A. Almquist, 1968–2012

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 4, 2013
Dr. Katherine A. Almquist, age 44, of Salisbury, PA, passed away November 30, 2012 at Western Maryland Health System Hospital, Cumberland, MD of natural causes. Dr. Almquist was an Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages and Coordinator of Liberal Studies at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland. She held a Ph.D. and M.A. from Columbia University and an A.B. from the University of Chicago. Dr. Almquist was a scholar of Renaissance legal history, 19th century historiography, and Michel de Montaigne.

For a complete obituary please see the Naperville Sun, December 7, 2012.

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Marjorie Riley, 1918–2012

Posted By Administration, Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013

Marjorie Riley, a former RSA staff member from 1970 to 1983, passed away on 2 December 2012 in Chico, California.

Marjorie was born on 31 August 1918 to Henry and Lucy Riley in Medford, Oregon and was raised in Dunsmuir, California. During World War II she served in the Navy as Petty Officer 3rd Class in the WAVES. She then attended and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. Marjorie worked for the Marconi – English Electric Co. in New York City and then, starting in 1970, for the Renaissance Society of America when it was at Columbia University. She retired from RSA in 1983 and moved to Chico, California in 1989.

George Labalme remembers: "She was a wonderful person, always in a good humor, always ready with the materials for meetings and the annual one which, in those days, was not as large as it has become in the last decade or two. . . . The RSA Board was really quite small in those days, and we struggled with a rather small membership. . . . Those were the days with Phyllis Gordan, POK, Felix Gilbert, Edward Cranz, Phyllis Pray Bober, Elizabeth Eisenstein, O. B. Hardison, Gene Brucker, Paul Grendler, Gene Rice, and Rensselaer Lee.

Margaret King remembers her as a "lovely and utterly delightful woman, from another era . . . absolutely competent with meetings and sensitive international dealings."

Marjorie was a generous supporter of the RSA Capital Campaign following her retirement.

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Isaías Lerner (d. 2013)

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 14, 2013
Isaías Lerner, Distinguished Professor of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages (HLBLL), passed away on January 8. Isaías graced our lives; he was deeply loved and will be sorely missed by all who had the good fortune to know him. His death will be mourned by scholars throughout the world.

Argentinian by birth and upbringing, Dr. Lerner taught in Buenos Aires until the 1966 military coup drove him into exile. After teaching at Lehman College for seven years, he was appointed to the doctoral faculty in 1978, served as executive officer from 1985 to1993, and transferred full-time to the Graduate Center in 1992. In 1999 he was appointed Distinguished Professor.

Acclaimed internationally for his work on sixteenth and seventeenth century Spanish literature, colonial Latin American literature, and the history of the Spanish language, Dr. Lerner was the author and editor of thirteen books and over a hundred articles and reviews. The two-volume annotated edition of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (a collaboration with another great scholar, Celina Sabor de Cortazar) is one of the great editions of Cervantes’ master work. His book Arcaísmos léxicos del español de América won the Augusto Malaret Prize from the Royal Spanish Academy.

The brilliance of his wide-ranging scholarship was matched by his dedication to his students. During his thirty-four years of service to the Graduate Center, he chaired thirty dissertations and served as second reader for forty-two.

We extend deep sympathies to his wife, Lía Schwartz, Distinguished Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature and former executive officer of the HLBLL program, and their daughter Bettina. A tribute at the Graduate Center is being planned for this Spring.  

(Written by William P. Kelly, CUNY Graduate Center, President)

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Gustavo Costa (1930–2012)

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 7, 2013

Gustavo Costa, emeritus colleague in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, passed away on August 29 of this year, at the age of 82.  Gustavo Costa took his laurea at La Sapienza and a post-doctoral specialization at the Istituto per gli Studi Storici in Naples thereafter.  

Following brief apprenticeships in Rome and Lyon, in 1961 Costa joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of Italian, where he served until his retirement in 1991 first as instructor, then as assistant, associate, and full professor, with two terms as department chair.  

Gustavo’s scholarly accomplishments were extraordinary, both in quality and in quantity.  Perhaps best known for his work on the literary, intellectual and cultural milieu of Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries (and its relationship to the European Enlightenment more generally—including Locke, Montesquieu, Descartes and many, many others), and above all on Vico, he published as well on Dante, Pontano, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Foscolo, Mazzini, and Pirandello, among many others.  His oeuvre includes 3 long monographic essays, 111 articles and review articles, 52 notes, and 332 reviews.  His books number nine, six of which, remarkably, appeared in the years since his retirement.  (See below for bibliographic references.)  

Costa’s vast learning and incisive intellect, his attention both to the great questions and to the crucial details of Italian culture, were, and are, an inspiration to his colleagues and former students, as, indeed, was his extraordinary dedication to our profession, a dedication that continued to shine out until the very hour of his death.  He is survived by his widow, the scholar Natalia Costa-Zalessow, by his daughter Dora, and his grandson Alexander.   

Books by Gustavo Costa

  1. La critica omerica di Thomas Blackwell (1701-1757) (Florence: G.C. Sansoni 1959).
  2. La leggenda dei secoli d’oro nella letteratura italiana (Bari: Laterza, 1972). 
  3. Le antichità germaniche nella cultura italiana da Machiavelli a Vico (Naples: Bibliopolis, 1977).
  4. Il sublime e la magia da Dante a Tasso (Napoli: Edizioni scientifiche italiane, 1994).
  5. Vico e l’Europa: Contro «la boria delle nazioni» (Milan: Guerini, 1996).
  6. Malebranche e Roma: Documenti dell’Archivio della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede (Florence: L.S. Olschki, 2003).
  7. Thomas Burnet e la censura pontificia (con documenti inediti) (Florence: L.S. Olschki, 2006)
  8. Celestino Galiani e la Sacra Scrittura: Alle radici del pensiero napolitano del Settecento, Pref. by Farizio Lomonaco. (Rome: Aracne, 2011).
  9. Epicureismo e pederastia: Il «Lucrezio» e l’ «Anacreonte» di Alessandro Marchetti secondo il Sant’Uffizio (Florence:L.S. Olschki, 2012).

 [Obituary by Albert R. Ascoli, University of California, Berkeley]


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Patricia Meilman (d. 2012)

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 2, 2012
Patricia Meilman, of New York City and Red Hook, New York, passed away on October 13, 2012 at age 65. She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Roy Meilman; and their children, Jeremy and Derek Meilman; by her daughters-in-law, Nicola Atherstone and Zeynep Kudatgobilik; and by four grandchildren. Pat was a scholar of Venetian Renaissance art, having received a PhD in art history from Columbia University. She spent two years in Florence as a Fulbright grant recipient. Her book Titian and the Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice was published by Cambridge University Press in 2000. She also edited The Cambridge Companion to Titian in 2004. Pat published many articles, spoke often at professional conferences, and was a gifted university teacher.

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Shona Kelly Wray (1963–2012)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shona Kelly Wray (1963–2012)

Shona Kelly Wray, who died unexpectedly in early May in Florence, Italy, was Associate Professor of History at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, where she taught courses and conducted research in late medieval Italian history. She earned her BA from the University of California at Davis (1986), an MA from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1990), and a PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1999). She was a Fulbright student at the University of Bologna, Italy (1986–87) and Fellow at the American Academy in Rome (2002–03); in 2011–12 she was a Fellow at Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti. Her research examined the social history of late medieval Italy, focusing on social responses to the Black Death, notarial culture and testaments, peace settlements and conflict resolution, women's property issues, and faculty families in Bologna.

Her publications included Communities and Crisis: Bologna during the Black Death (Leiden: Brill, 2009), Across the Religious Divide: Women, Gender, and Law in the Wider Mediterranean (ca. 1300–1800), coedited with Jutta Sperling (New York: Routledge, 2010), and articles in books and journals such as the Journal of Social History, the Journal of Medieval History, the Journal of Medieval Prosopography. She taught courses on the Black Death, gender and family in medieval and early modern Europe, Renaissance and Reformation Europe, and world history.

Shona was a brilliant scholar-teacher, beloved by her colleagues and students. A student of medieval and Renaissance Italy, medieval feminist scholarship, medical history, and more, Shona was one of the brightest lights of her generation. She was in Florence at Villa I Tatti during AY 2011–2012 doing research for what promised to be a groundbreaking social history of the households and family of faculty at the University of Bologna in the fourteenth century.

A native Californian, her peregrinatio academica began early with sojourns in New Zealand and England as a child in the company of her sister Maggi and her parents while they were on sabbatical. Her love of the outdoors was also kindled in those years, and she later reveled in the chance to enjoy the mountains of Colorado during her graduate school years. An accomplished swimmer and a graceful dancer, Shona was able to achieve excellence in both mind and body. She delighted in the company of her husband, economist Randall Wray, and her two teenage children, Shane and Alina. The outpouring of affection from colleagues and friends in the wake of her death focused primarily upon Shona’s laughter, generosity, and kindness, traits evident to everyone who knew her. Her intellectual curiosity encompassed not just Italian history, but a myriad of other topics too, from Colorado mining towns to the creation of fine wine. Testaments from colleagues, family, and friends, as well as a listing of memorial services, conferences, and scholarships planned in Shona’s honor, are available at a website created by Shona’s sister Maggi, at

Submitted by Christopher Carlsmith (30 May 2012)

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Morimichi Watanabe (d. 2012)

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Morimichi Watanabe, president emeritus of the American Cusanus Society, passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 1, 2012 at his home in Port Washington, New York. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Kiyomi Watanabe, M.D.; his son, Tsugumichi D. Watanabe of New York City; and a granddaughter, Izumi Watanabe.

He was a retired Professor of History and Political Science from the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He served as President of the American Cusanus Society from 1983-2008 and was also editor of the American Cusanus Society Newsletter from its debut in 1984 to the present. His research on the historical context of the life and political thought of Nicholas of Cusa (1401-64) set the standard for all work done in this field in the English language. Professor Watanabe was a RSA member since 1962.

Professor Watanabe's works include:

Nicholas of Cusa: A Companion to his Life and his Times, Morimichi Watanabe; edited by Gerald Christianson, Thomas M. Izbicki (Ashgate, 2011).

Concord and Reform. Nicholas of Cusa and Legal and Political Thought in the Fifteenth Century, edited by Gerald Christianson, Thomas M. Izbicki (Ashgate, 2001).

The Political Ideas of Nicholas of Cusa, with Special Reference to his De concordantia catholica (Droz, 1963.)


Also: Press Release from LIU Post.

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Domenico Sella (1926-2012)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 17, 2012

Professor of History for 35 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sella took his Laurea at the University of Milan in 1949, a MA (1951) from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana and his doctorate from the University of Milan (1954). Published works include Commerci e industrie a Venezia nel secolo XVII (1961), Salari e lavoro nell’edilizia Lombarda nel secolo XVII (1968), Crisis and Continuity: The Economy of Spanish Lombardy in the Seventeenth Century (1979) and Italy in the Seventeenth Century (1997).

He was preceded in death by his wife, Annamaria.  He is survived by his older brother, Francesco, in Lausanne, and his sister, Cristiana, in Milan, his four children, Barbara, Monica, Antonio and Roberto, and ten grandchildren.   

Please see here and here.

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Robert M. Kingdon (1927-2010)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 17, 2012

Robert McCune Kingdon, Hilldale Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison died on Friday, December 3, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Kingdon received his B.A. in 1949 from Oberlin College and his M.A. (1950) and Ph.D. (1955) in History from Columbia University.  His published works include Geneva and the Coming of the Wars of Religion in France, 1555-1563 (1956; 2007), Geneva and the Consolidation of the French Protestant Movement, 1564-1571 (1967); Myths about the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres, 1572-1576 (1988); and Adultery and Divorce in Calvin's Geneva (1995).

He taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Iowa before joining the History Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as full professor in 1965. 

He is survived by his sister, Anna Carol Dudley of Berkeley, California, and his brothers, Henry Shannon Kingdon of Drummond, Wisconsin, John Wells Kingdon of Washington, D.C., and Arthur McAfee Kingdon of Vassalboro, Maine.


Please also see the obituaries in the March 2011 issue of AHA's Perspectives and from the University of Wisconsin.

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Sally Anne Scully (1939-2011)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sally Anne Scully (1939-2011) by David McNeil

Sally Scully, professor emerita of San Francisco State University, died very peacefully at her San Francisco home on April 15, 2011, with her husband, children, and sister attending. The cause was multiple organ failure from metastatic breast cancer, which had first been diagnosed in 1993.

Sally was a member of the SF State history faculty from 1974 to 2005. She did her graduate work at Harvard, where she was among the first female history Ph.D. recipients (1975), writing on lawyers at Paris and Bologna in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. She was particularly proud of her undergraduate years at Smith College (B.A. 1961), where she won the Annual Prize for the outstanding work in History Honors. She was an inspiring role model for a generation of women students and scholars. Before joining the SF State faculty, she also taught at Harvard College, the City College of New York, and the College of the Holy Cross, and held a Robbins Fellowship at the Institute for Medieval Canon Law at the UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law (1972-74).

After a formative visit to Italy, Sally’s main intellectual interests shifted to Renaissance Florence and Venice, whose histories she taught for many years. She received several grants for archival work in Venice, working mainly on the life and times of a seventeenth-century woman who endured three Inquisition trials on charges of witchcraft. She also wrote on Venetian travel literature and Renaissance historiography. Her most recent article (2010) was on "Carnality and the Venetian Inquisition."

In 1981 in Venice she married her husband, David McNeil (now professor emeritus of history at San José State University); their son Trevor McNeil is currently working in the Middle East with the National Democratic Institute. In later years, she and David enjoyed exotic travel, along with frequent stays in their "little stone house" in eastern Tuscany.

At San Francisco State, Sally played leadership roles in Phi Beta Kappa and the United Professors of California. As the first faculty director of the campus Presidential Scholars Program, a post she held from 1996-2002, she created a model "college within a college" program. For the California State University System, she twice directed the overseas campus in Florence (1994-95 and 2002-03). She of course accompanied David when he directed the CSU campus in France (Aix-en-Provence, 1983-84).

Sally had a number of passions, which her international circle of friends found delightful and infectious. She entertained with warmth and elegance, cooked with professional skill and was the very embodiment of "bella figura." She was widely and impressively knowledgeable about art, literature, and jazz. A passionate supporter of movements for social justice, she was often moved to participate in demonstrations. She delighted in her friends (many of them former students) and, even in illness, retained her tremendous sense of humor and interest in the larger world.

In addition to her husband and son, she leaves a daughter, Nadja Jackson, of Los Altos; a sister, Susan Scully Troy of Wellesley MA; a granddaughter; and several nieces and nephews.

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