One of Fordham's first female PhDs Eleanor Lappano-Colletta, 87


Dr. Eleanor Rita Lappano-Colletta — beloved wife, mother, grandmother, scientist and proud Fordham alumna — passed away Jan. 9, 2018, at 87. 

She was a long-time resident of Riverdale and Jackson, New Jersey.

She was born in New York City on Jan. 12, 1930, the daughter of Mary and Ernest Lappano. 

She graduated from George Washington High School in New York City, and continued her studies at Fordham University, where she received three degrees — a bachelor’s in chemistry in 1951, a master’s in biology in 1953, and a Ph.D. in biology in 1955, being one of the first females to have a Ph.D., conferred in biology from Fordham.

After completing her doctorate, she held faculty positions at numerous medical schools and research institutions including New York University Medical School, Rockefeller University, Downstate Medical College, Hospital for Special Surgery, Sloan Kettering Institute, and New York Medical College. 

She continued her love of research, science and education while working at the Museum of Natural History as an animal behavior research associate, as an assistant professor of biology at Manhattan College, and as a development scientist at Lever Brothers.

Additionally, she was honored to serve on the National Advisory Research Council at The National Institutes of Health.

She enjoyed painting, reading and traveling the globe, making many friends along the way. From PTA president to politics, she always was up for an engaging conversation or spirited debate. Forever in our hearts, she will be missed by all. 

She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 40 years Archangelo Colletta, and a sister Lillian Savastano. She is survived by her sister Maria Redo of New York City; children Mary Cregan (David) of Atlanta; John Colletta (Renee) of Destin, Florida; Gina DiGuglielmo (Anthony) of Long Valley, New Jersey; and four adoring granddaughters: Daniella, Alissa, Caitlin and Audrey.

A private burial will take place at Brigadier General Doyle Cemetery at a later date.

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