AMHERST - Longtime Amherst resident Ercole Canale-Parola, a highly regarded researcher, department head, retired professor and professor emeritus of microbiology at the University of Massachusetts, died peacefully March 29, 2013, in Amherst, following a brief illness.
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He was laid to rest in Wildwood Cemetery beside his beloved wife Thelma, and his mother Ede Momigliano April 6, 2013.
Born in 1929 in Frosinone, Italy, to Ede Presciutti and Mario Canale-Parola, his early years were heavily impacted by the loss of his father at age 5, and the hardships of World War II.
As a child, he witnessed firsthand the Nazi occupation of Rome, the infamous aerial bombing of the San Lorenzo neighborhood, the partisan attack in Via Rasella and the triumphant entrance of American forces into the fallen city.
After the war, in 1951, he reluctantly left his studies at the University of Florence to join his mother, who had moved to Chicago, Ill., and remarried an Italian doctor and professor, Lele Momigliano. Dr. Momigliano, who was Jewish, had defected to the United States when Benito Mussolini enacted the discriminatory racial laws of 1938.
Having no degree and speaking little English, Ercole took a job dyeing candy in a gumball factory run by an Italian immigrant, a position that provided him with ample motivation to resume his education.
It was while studying at the University of Chicago at Urbana-Champaign that he met his wife of 57 years, Thelma Canale-Parola. Their meeting had two immediate impacts on their futures, Thelma changed her major from Spanish to Italian and Ercole determined that he would have to take his studies more seriously if he was going to date a star student. Both would later earn doctorate's from that institution and go on to have illustrious careers in academia. Ercole would become one of the world's leading experts on spirochetes and during his long academic career, served as mentor to countless other scientists who now conduct research, teach and are head departments throughout the country and abroad.
Ercole was also a passionate and knowledgeable opera and classical music aficionado, a Red Sox fan, a lifetime progressive democrat and expert wine enthusiast. In his spare time he worked on a historical fiction manuscript set in wartime Italy, experimented with oil and watercolor painting and deeply enjoyed reading and competing with his wife to be first to finish the New York Time's Sunday crossword puzzle.
Ercole Canale-Parola will be deeply missed by his family, friends, colleagues and former students.
He is survived by his children Claudia and Daniel and their spouses Matthew Blumenfeld and Marina Viola, his five grandchildren, Isa and Sadie Blumenfeld and Luca, Sofia and Emma Canale-Parola, as well as by trillions and trillions of individual Canaleparolinas - a spirochete named in his honor.
A memorial service will be held for both Ercole and Thelma in the fall.
The family suggests that anyone wishing to honor Ercole's memory consider making a tax deductible donation in his name to the Jones Library in Amherst, as both Ercole and Thelma were strong supporters of that institution: Jones Library,
43 Amity St., Amherst, MA 01002.
Obituary and memorial register at www.douglassfuneral.com.
Douglass Funeral Home
87 North Pleasant Street Amherst, MA 01002
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 2, 2013