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Gordon DiRenzo

In Memoriam: Gordon DiRenzo

Services for UD professor emeritus to be held May 8

Gordon J. DiRenzo, professor emeritus of sociology and social psychology at the University of Delaware, died April 30 at his home in Hockessin, Delaware, at age 82.

Prof. DiRenzo was a member of the UD faculty for 35 years. He also conducted a private practice as a licensed clinical psychologist for many years.

Prof. DiRenzo was a cum laude graduate of the University of Notre Dame, from which he also received master's and doctoral degrees. He also did graduate work at Harvard University and postdoctoral studies at Columbia University and the University of Colorado.

He joined the UD faculty in 1970 as Unidel Professor of Sociology, after serving as a member of the faculty of a number of colleges and universities, including Indiana University, Fairfield University, the University of Portland (Oregon), Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and the University of Notre Dame.

Prof. DiRenzo studied, lectured and traveled extensively in foreign countries. He served at the University of Rome in 1960-61 as a visiting research sociologist under a grant from the Ministry of Education, and again in 1968-69 as a Senior Fulbright-Hays Professor of Sociology. During the 1980-81 academic year, he served as Senior Fulbright-Hays Professor of Sociology at the University of Bologna in Italy.

Prof. DiRenzo specialized in the fields of social psychology, personality, social psychiatry, medical social psychology, psychology of politics, personality psychology, American social character and Italian society and culture.

He was the author or co-author of numerous publications in the behavioral sciences, including 12 books, four of which are in the Italian language. Among his major works are Human Social Behavior; We, the People: American Character and Social Change; Personality and Politics; Concepts, Theory, and Explanation in the Behavioral Sciences and Personality, Power and Politics. He was the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an Excellence-in-Teaching Award from UD in 1992.

Prof. DiRenzo was an affiliate member of the medical staff of St. Francis Hospital, with an appointment in the departments of Psychiatry and Family Practice, since 1980. He previously held similar appointments at the Medical Center of Delaware, Northeastern Hospital in Philadelphia and the Rockford Center. He inaugurated and served as director of the behavioral science programs in the departments of Family Practice at Christiana Care, St. Francis Hospital and Northeastern Hospital. He also was a consultant to a variety of medical agencies, corporations, publishers and news media.

For many years, Prof. DiRenzo served as a member, executive secretary and vice president of the Board of Examiners of Psychologist for the state of Delaware with appointments and re-appointments by three governors. He was honored with induction as a fellow of the Association of State and Provincial Boards of Psychology in 2006.

He was appointed honorary commander of the 436th Medical Support Squadron at Dover Air Force Base in 2005. He also served as president of the Class of 1956 of the University of Notre Dame since 2001.

Prof. DiRenzo was a fellow of the American Sociological Association, as well as a member of several other professional associations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Political Science Association, the Association for the Behavioral Sciences in Medical Education and the American Association of University Professors.

He is survived by his former wife, Mary Ryan DiRenzo; his three children and their spouses, Maria Giulia Lambert (Richard) of Wilmington, Chiara Veronica Clemens (Tony) of Avondale, Pennsylvania, and Marco Santo DiRenzo (Jessica) of Carmel Valley, California; and his grandchildren, Natalia and Cade Reisenauer; Reese, Ryan, Rory and Ridley Lambert; Luna and his soon-to-be born grandson, Dominic DiRenzo. He was predeceased by his grandson Ryland James Lambert.

Papa, as he was affectionately called by his children and grandchildren, will be remembered as the loving and steadfast patriarch of his family.

Family and friends may visit from 2-4 p.m., Sunday, May 7, at Doherty Funeral Home, 3200 Limestone Road, Wilmington, Delaware. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, May 8, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 901 N. DuPont Street, Wilmington, with interment to follow at St. Patrick's Cemetery-Ashland in Hockessin. A luncheon will be held at Deerfield, 507 Thompson Station Road, Newark, at 12:30 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to the DiRenzo Family Charitable Fund with checks made payable to the SEI Giving Fund, c/o SEI Private Trust, 1 Freedom Valley Drive, P.O. Box 1098, Oaks, PA 19456.

To offer condolences, visit the Doherty Funeral Home website.

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