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Past Newsmakers

Summer 2013 Newsmakers

DON DE LILLO is the first recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The 76 year-old author, who rarely makes public appearances, will accept the award in September in Washington, D.C. On learning of the honor, DeLillo said his first thoughts were of his parents, immigrants from Molise, Italy. “They spoke little or no English,” he said. “It was a new language and new culture and many challenges in every direction, and so I like to think of this prize as a tribute to their memory.”

LISA MONACO, President Obama’s new chief counterterrorism adviser, led the White House briefings on the Boston bombings. The 45-year old Harvard graduate from Boston also holds a law degree from the University of Chicago. She became Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism last March. Monaco has vast experience in national security, serving as counsel to former Attorney General Janet Reno; chief of staff and federal prosecutor to FBI Director Robert Mueller; and as Attorney General Eric Holder’s assistant for national security. She also is considered to replace Mueller as FBI director when he steps down in September.

JOHN ROLANDO, M.D., gave the gift of hearing to a three-year-old boy who had been born without hearing nerves in his brain. Dr. Rolando, of the New York University Langone Medical Center, used technology funded by the Rienzi Foundation for Cochlear Implant Surgery. According to the foundation chairman, Michael Rienzi, the Sons of Italy Foundation’s $150,000 donation makes it the “largest single donor and underwriter” to his own foundation.

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PAUL CELLUCCI, former Republican governor of Massachusetts, and U.S. Ambassador to Canada, died June 8 in Hudson, MA from ALS, also called “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” He was 65. Elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1990, he became acting governor in 1997 when his predecessor resigned to become an ambassador. Cellucci was elected governor in his own right in 1998, a position he held until 2001 when he was nominated by President George W. Bush for the Canadian diplomatic post. During his 30-year political career, he never lost an election.

MARGHERITA HACK, an Italian astrophysicist who was known for her ability to explain complex research on the stars in simple language, died in Italy at age 91 June 29. She headed the astronomical observatory in Trieste for 23 years – the first woman in Italy to do so. Dr. Hack also was a fierce defender of Italian civil rights, including legalizing abortion and divorce; and successfully fought the construction of nuclear reactors in Italy. Born in Florence, in her youth she also was a champion athlete in both the long and high jump. A lifelong vegetarian and animal activist, she is survived by her husband of 69 years, but no children.

EDMUND PELLEGRINO, M.D., who was a physician, philosopher, and a former Catholic University president, died June 13 at age 92 in Maryland. He was one of the founders of bioethics as an academic subject, exploring the ethical role physicians play in extending or ending life. In addition to his academic pursuits, he continued seeing patients, believing that a doctor places the well-being of his patients above his personal gain. He opposed abortion and euthanasia, but supported national health insurance. The son of a wholesale grocer in N.J., he served in WW II, after medical school. He and his wife of 67 years had seven children.

KEN VENTURI, winner of the 1964 U.S. Open golf championship and longest running lead analyst in the history of sports television died of pneumonia and infections May 17. He was 82. Venturi worked for CBS Sports for over three decades, despite warnings as a young boy that a stutter would prevent him from ever speaking. Born in 1931 in San Francisco, he started playing golf at a public course where his parents ran the pro shop. He won the California state amateur title twice and came to national prominence in the 1956 Masters. He made history when, facing dehydration, he won the U.S. Open on June 20, 1964. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on May 6, 2013.