David Zitarelli
1941 - 2018
BORN
1941
DIED
2018
The day of December 2 was perfectly normal for David Zitarelli. He jogged four miles, which brought his 2018 total to 1,110 miles and his lifetime total to 57,366 miles. (We know this because he tracked his mileage daily, beginning in 1973.) He wrote in his journal (the “Z Notes”), the same one he has been keeping daily since 1977, first on yellow notepads, then on a series of ever-more-complex word processors. He ate a rotisserie chicken for dinner with his wife, spent time babysitting his two Minneapolis grandkids, then FaceTimed with his two Seattle grandkids. He read a few pages of his Jill Lepore book, slipped his bookmark into page 422, and went to sleep. And then he died. His heart, whose genetic insufficiencies he had tried like hell to mitigate over many years via near-daily exercise, finally gave out. It was a heart that many of us knew – family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, baristas, dental hygienists – because he wore it proudly on his sleeve. For better or worse (mostly better), all of us knew where we stood with Dr. Z, a gentile mensch if ever there was one. He was born on August 12, 1941 in Chester, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Holmes, PA. He was a proud graduate of Ridley High School (Class of 1959), then went on to earn his Bachelor’s (1963) and Master’s (1965) Degrees at Temple University, followed by a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Penn State. The same year he secured his Ph.D. (1970), he began a teaching career at Temple that would span 42 years before his retirement as a Full Professor in 2012. During that tenure, he was awarded multiple teaching honors – most notably a Great Teacher Award in 2005 – but was perhaps most proud of the legions of students that he inspired, persuaded, and cajoled into mathematics-related careers. His love of teaching combined with his love of sports in another important aspect of his life – softball coaching – where he nurtured and inspired legions of young women (including his daughter) to strive for athletic excellence. Zitarelli loved words as much as he loved numbers. Beginning in 1984, he enjoyed a fruitful, decade-long collaboration with Dr. Raymond Coughlin, authoring five successful mathematics textbooks. He went on to write two more textbooks (one alone; one with Dr. David Hill) before turning his attention to his late-career passion: the history of mathematics. In 2001 he published EPADEL: A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000, which charts the history of the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Section of the Mathematical Association of America, and then in 2004 turned to the larger work that would dominate the last fifteen years of his life: A History of Mathematics in the United States and Canada. He completed Volume 1, covering the years 1492-1930, in 2018, and it will be published in 2019 by MAA Press, an imprint of the American Mathematical Society. He was hard at work on Volume 2 (1930-2000) at the time of his death, and may well have finished it sooner had it not been for the welcome distractions of four grandchildren, all of whom arrived between 2009 and 2016. He and his wife Anita (whom he married in 1966 and fiercely loved for all of their 52 years of marriage) split their retirement time between stints in Minneapolis (with daughter Nicole Danielsen, son-in-law Ryan Danielsen, and grandchildren Oliver and Zoey) and Bainbridge Island, WA (with son Paul Zitarelli, daughter-in-law Kelli Larsen, and grandchildren Lenna and Solomon). Despite initial sadness about leaving his “Philly roots,” Zitarelli flourished in the Upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, making easy friends in both places and cherishing the chance to participate in the daily lives of his children and grandchildren. Was Zitarelli perfect? Of course not. He was known to teach swear words to young children. He could exaggerate (he would doubtless revise this to “embellish”) the truth of a matter in the pursuit of “a good story.” Sometimes if he was losing in a game of one-on-one basketball, he would knee his own family member in the back of the leg to secure a rebound and then flatly deny a foul. No, he was not perfect. But he was very very good, and he was ours for a time, and we loved him. The family will be holding private services. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the American Heart Association or other charities.
Published by The Daily Times from Dec. 5 to Dec. 6, 2018.
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28 Entries
Great man. Knew him from temple when he was head of the o.a.s. program.very funny, an anomaly for a math guy! Talked about his children frequently, was very proud of them.
Thomas Schmidt
May 28, 2019
To the Zitarelli family: I was in Dr. Zitarelli's freshman calculus class at Penn State in the fall of 1969. It was my start at PSU and his final term there. I remember his mentioning that he was waiting to receive his doctorate and start at Temple. Because he had not yet received his degree, I remember him as Mister Zitarelli. He ran a good class and had a good rapport with us kids. He was thorough, but fair. I remember his class fondly and offer my deepest condolences to his family. He would not remember me, but I wish that I had contacted him sooner.
John Wedo
January 15, 2019
To the Zitarelli Family,
I am sadden to hear of Dr Z's passing. I was both an undergraduate and graduate student in Temple's math department. I never took a course with Dr Z- but I had lots of pleasant interactions with him. I last saw him at the 2016 JMM in Atlanta at the AMS-NAM joint session on the Mathematics of the Atlantic University Center. He was his usual ebullient self. As a math student, he was a real hero. As a math educator, his dedication and passion set a standard to strive for. As an undergraduate, I remember Dr Z and Dr Coughlin running - Dr Z singing "Ghost busters- who you gonna call?"
Karen Taylor
December 26, 2018
Dear Anita and Family,
Please accept our deepest sympathy. We have so many fond memories of Dave and Temple University.
Rich and Ellen
Rich Mucci
December 26, 2018
Betty Van Vugt
Friend
December 23, 2018
It's absolutely devastating to learn of Dr. Zitarelli's passing. My prayers go out to his wife, family, and legions of fellow students.

As a graduate student back in the late 1970s I had the privilege of taking Z's History of Mathematics course at Temple. His enthusiasm for the subject was boundless, as was his curiosity - and his academic rigor.

During the first meeting he in effect interviewed all of us about our interests and backgrounds, then set about tailoring the course to fit. For example, when he found that all of us had a functional command of at least one other language, we were assigned to read major mathematical papers in their original form and explain our interpretations to the group.

As the term went on Z guided us through the development of several key areas of mathematical thought. When the time came to do individual research into the history of our own fields of interest, his guidance had honed our skills to where we could understand how those areas progressed from their initial concepts to the polished subjects we were studying in our other courses.

For a group of budding young mathematicians, that inspiration was beyond value. Farewell, Z.
Jeff Karpinski
December 22, 2018
Dr. Zitarelli was my idol
He was my algebra teacher at Temple in 1971 and then I took his "History of Mathematics" course the next semester.
he was exciting.
he was fun.
and he was very much excited to share everything he knew about Math.
I am so thankful for having him as a teacher
I did not continue in the field but used what I learned to help me find other jobs in Library work.
God Bless him.
A wonderful teacher and a wonderful person
Leonora Kalinowski-Carr
December 18, 2018
My heart felt condolences to Dave's family. He was a phenomenal teacher, but an even better man. Aside from my father, he was the man who had more impact on my life during my years at Temple.
Mark Weitzel
December 16, 2018
What a privilege to have known Dave and his family. So many wonderful memories from teaching and coaching their beautiful kids to having enthusiastic talks with Dave about mathematics and academics. Saw him jogging many times at North Avenue. I greatly appreciated his encouragement in the field of teaching and still cherish the gift of his calculus book in which he inscribed a warm note. He was a man who changed you for the better just by getting to know him. Praying for God's grace to comfort Anita, Paul, and Nicole during the days ahead. Miss you all.
Dan Wallin
December 16, 2018
Dear Anita , my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. Rich Mucci and I were Dave's students at Temple and I heard of Dave's passing through Rich. He was inspiring not only because he knew his stuff and how to teach it, but also - and maybe mostly - because he was a nice, caring man. I went on to study at Penn State, where Dave and I won the Departmental basketball championship together. I don't ever recall him kneeing anyone in the legs back then. I cherish the emails Dave sent me over the years; just to hear from him made me feel warm and I know you all understand what that feels like with him. Dave made it very clear to me in those emails his love for and the importance to him of his wife and children and grandchildren. I still do maths research and I intend to acknowledge Dave in my next publication. He is so important to me and so many others, in an ongoing, nourishing manner. My fond regards, Bob
Bob Monzo
Friend
December 16, 2018
I was not a math major (although he tried to talk me into it once) but Profesdor Zitarelli was easily one of my favorite (and certainly the most witty) teachers at Temple.

I still cherish the textbook he and Ray Coughlin (another favorite) wrote.
Seth Itzkowitz
December 16, 2018
This was a perfect tribute to Dave. Our condolences to your family.

The Green family
December 11, 2018
Hard to believe Dave is gone. My sympathy for Anita, Paul, Nicole, and the many fortunate others who knew and will miss Dave.
John Allen Paulos
December 10, 2018
John Allen Paulos
December 10, 2018
Nicole, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Your Cornell Softball Family
December 8, 2018
Anita I am so sorry for you and your families loss. I have only great memories of Dave teaching my two daughters the game of softball and more importantly how to conduct themselves on and off the field.
I cannot thank Dave enough for the countless hours he spent with Kelsea teaching how to throw a softball in your Springfield basement. He noticed her pitching with me during one of his games he was coaching with my older daughter Melissa and kindly offered to help Kel.
When Dave would show up to see Kelsea pitch you could see the determination in her eyes wanting to show Dave her "stuff"
Dave is a one of a kind human being and happy to have know him god bless.
DAN STRAUBE
December 7, 2018
To the ZITARELLI family- I am so sorry for your loss and ours. David was a colleague for many years and I thought the world of him.

Sarah Evangelista Philadelphia 19148
December 7, 2018
Every time I go to the mailbox in the Temple University math department, I miss Dave, whose office was directly across from it. I'd always go in and schmooze for a bit, exchange bad jokes, brag about our kids, and settle two or three of the world's problems. Dave was a wonderful and caring friend and teacher. He was also a sort of unofficial master of ceremonies at departmental functions, the one who got things and made the meeting fun. Over the years so many students at Temple told me what a great guy he was. They were so right.
John Allen Paulos
December 7, 2018
David and I had many moments writing and teaching. I treasure those times. I will miss his smile and humor.

I have attached a photo that charcaterizes David and his attitude toward life. So easy going with eevverybody. This was taken at a retirement dinner a while ago.
David Hill
December 7, 2018
May your memories of the wonderful times you shared with your loved one comfort you and your family, today and always.
American Heart Association
December 6, 2018
To Dr Zitarelli's family, My name is Jennifer Wright Sharp, and I've had the pleasure of working on the first volume of his History of Mathematics in the US and Canada. In the short period we worked together, he was extraordinarily kind and eager to soak up all helpful information about his book. In fact, his kindness is the first thought we all had about him. I'm so terribly saddened to hear of his death, and hope that somehow we can complete his amazingly detailed history--I think it will be a useful and encyclopedic reference for generations. With deepest sympathy, Jennifer
December 6, 2018
My sincerest condolences to the Zitarelli Family for the loss of your loved one, David, and pray you find comfort in Psalms 91:2.
JKH-JW
December 6, 2018
Rev.Carl Christiansen
December 6, 2018
Thoughts going back to 1972 when Pete and I met Dave and Anita and became friends...The one image that is in my head right now is Dave on a softball field, coaching the elite Springfield female softball players and expecting nothing less than perfection and encouraging them to meet his and their expectations of perfection. A funny thing he did when he didn't want these teenage girls to be distracted during prom season, etc. was he made them repeat out loud "I LOVE, I LOVE , I LOVE MY GLOVE" to keep their minds on a sport he loved,softball.
Bonnie Riviello
December 6, 2018
I am so sorry for the Zitarelli family's loss. This is a beautiful tribute to Dave's life. He was a wonderful mathematics colleague, but more importantly, he was a wonderful person with whom I shared many laughs. We will surely miss his smile. Thank you for sharing him with us.

-Lila Roberts
December 6, 2018
Delaware County will be very quiet today after people read this. Dave had so many friends and we will all be having fond reflections of our time with Dave.
Mike Devenny
December 6, 2018
Heartfelt sympathy to the Zitarelli family! As a Ridley friend, I will forever miss Dave's sense of humor and compassion for others. So blessed to have known him!
Kathie (Hoopes) Mateer
December 5, 2018
The entire Kasmer Family sends our sympathy to Dave's family. WE will always remember him on the soft ball field on the Saxer Avenue field.He was a wonderful coach to all the girls. Barbara Kasmer
December 5, 2018
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