Dr. Robert C. Melzi, a professor emeritus of romance languages, died on March 5, 2012, at the age of 96. Rosemary Cappello ’83, editor of the literary journal Philadelphia Poets, offered this remembrance.
By Rosemary Cappello ‘83
I first met Bob in 1979, when I started college at Widener and studied Italian with him. We had an instant rapport, for I was struck by his similarity to my father, John Petracca, who also was an Italian immigrant. But mainly I appreciated Bob’s integration of Italian culture, notably its literature and music, with the study of the language. Also of note were Bob’s eager demeanor, his ready smile, and effervescent sense of humor, all of which can be summed up as a zest for life.
It took me a while, after graduation from Widener, to refer to him as Bob, so great was my respect for him. After all, his career in Widener’s Romance Language Department spanned 30 years and the briefest conversation with him left one feeling that here was an outstanding scholar, erudite on many subjects. He retired in 1990, having also taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s University, Villanova University, and Bryn Mawr College.