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Past Newsmakers

Fall 2010 Newsmakers

RICHARD CAPOZZOLA, educator and author, died of cancer Sept. 3 in Altamonte Springs, FL. He was 73 years old. As principal of Mt. Vernon High School in N.Y., he received a national excellence award from President Reagan for turning the school into a model of academic achievement. A long-time, tireless advocate of Italian Americans and their civil rights, he researched and published at his own expense, Five Centuries of Italian American History, a priceless collection of profiles and little-known facts about people of Italian heritage.

BRIAN CARDERELLI was one of ten aid workers, murdered by the Taliban last August as they returned from a medical mission to aid villagers in a remote mountain area of Afghanistan. Carderelli was the videographer on the team of nurses and physicians. He had been documenting the lives of ordinary Afghans since September. The Harrisburg, PA native was 25 years old.

JOHN PISTOLE has been appointed by President Obama as the new director of the Transportation Security Administration. His agency protects the nation's transportation systems used by people and commerce, including air and rail travel. The former FBI deputy director was confirmed in June. He joins Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security and CIA Director Leon Panetta as the third Italian American on the president's national security team.

CESARE SIEPI, one of the greatest opera basses of the 20th century, died July 5 in Atlanta, following a stroke. He was 87 years old. During the 1950s and 1960s, his rich warm voice and tall, handsome physic made him the leading bass at the Metropolitan Opera and other opera houses around the world. For decades he was "the" Don Giovanni of Mozart's opera. Mr. Siepi was born in Milan and thought about becoming a boxer until his mother saw his bruises in an amateur fight. A natural talent, he began singing in 1940 at age 17 and ended his long career in 1973 at the Met where he had performed more than 400 times.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN whose rock and roll songs celebrate New Jersey, has roots in Italy on his mother's side. Her family comes from Campania and settled here in 1900. His mother, Adele Sorrentino married the Irish-Dutch American, Douglas Springsteen. Now 85, Adele and her two sisters were present when Springsteen received the 2010 Family Heritage Award from the Ellis Island Foundation earlier this year.

LISA STAIANO-COICO, Ph.D., is the new president of City College of New York, the oldest college in the City University of New York system. A prominent educator and researcher in microbiology and immunology, Dr. Staiano-Coico previously held leadership posts at Cornell, Rockefeller and Temple universities and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

MICHAEL VALENTE who earned the Medal of Honor for heroism in World War I now has a bridge in New York City named in his honor. In September, the Long Beach Bridge that connects Long Beach to Long Island was renamed the Valente Bridge. He came to the US from a town near Rome. After the war, he married and settled in Long Beach where his descendents still live. Michael Valente died in 1976.