03 June 2005
Ruggiero Stefanini, an emeritus professor of Italian and Near Eastern studies who taught courses on Dante, classical philology, and the ancient Indo-European language of Hittite for more than 40 years, died May 6 at the age of 72. A native of Borgo San Lorenzo, Italy, Stefanini died at his family home in Italy, where he had returned about two years ago following treatment of stomach cancer.
Trained in classical philology and literature — the study of ancient languages and texts — and Italian dialects, Italian and romance philology, and ancient literature, Stefanini also regularly taught classes and wrote about the Italian poet Dante Alighieri.
Stefanini graduated from the University of Florence in 1957, and served as an assistant to the chair of Germanic philosophy at that university from 1957-58. Following a stint in the Italian army he came to Berkeley in 1961 as an assistant professor. Though he retired in 1994, Stefanini continued to teach one course a semester through the Graduate Division.
Irene Zinini Cordi, a lecturer in Italian Studies and a former student of Stefanini's, said his vivacious personality, powerful voice, and often-flamboyant dress made him stand out in a crowd. But, she said, it was his encyclopedic knowledge, precision in teaching and research, and cheerful availability to students and colleagues that endeared him to those who knew him.
Stefanini is survived by three sisters, all living in Italy. A campus memorial will be held in the fall.