By Mark Boshnack

Staff Writer

An Oneonta man who died on Monday was remembered by a family member as someone who was proud of his Italian-American heritage.

Joseph A. Fioravanti, 81, died after an 18-month battle with cancer.

After serving in several positions elsewhere, he came to the area in 1968 to teach English literature and composition at the State University College of Technology at Delhi, said his wife of 26 years, Shirley Fioravanti. His first marriage ended in divorce, she said.

While at SUNY Delhi, he developed a course on film appreciation, she said. He retired in January 1991.

The couple joined the Oneonta Italian-American Club in the 1980s, and Fioravanti served as president from 1992-93 and from 2001-03.

He left the club last year for health reasons, his wife said.

He shared some impressions on his heritage when he edited a booklet for the group’s 50th anniversary in 2005.

“In the time it’s taken to complete this project, I’ve cultivated a deeper appreciation and profound respect for the struggles many early immigrants’ families had to endure, with no immediate prospect of achieving a full-hearted welcome,” he wrote.

“The resilience and doggedness that pulled them through was passed on to sons and daughters for future generations.”

“He was very proud of his Italian heritage,” his wife said. “He had a happy, warm childhood that he associated with that background.”

According to Shirley Fioravanti, after her husband retired, he stayed active through travel, reading and research, as well as teaching classes at the local Center for Continuing Adult Learning.

Among these projects was his involvement in a symposium on Frank Sinatra in 2007. He wrote a paper for the final book, which was published by the University of Rochester Press.

“It was an honor for him to be chosen,” she said.

Among those who knew Fioravanti was past club president Joseph T. Pondolfino Jr., who said Fioravanti’s contributions were immeasurable.

“Joe was invaluable” in helping organize many events over the years, he said.

Longtime member Anthony “Tony” Drago said that Fioravanti was “a very literate man who was always working to upgrade the organization.”

Besides his many activities, Shirley Fioravanti said, “he always had strong ties to his children,” his grandchildren, and recently, a great-grandchild.

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