Anthony Fratiello, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
It is with great sadness that we report the death on November 9th of Anthony Fratiello, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, a great friend, and a great colleague.
Anthony Fratielllo was born in Providence Rhode Island in 1936 and raised in the working-class neighborhoods around Federal Hill, developing a strong social conscience and sense of responsibility to his tight knit community. He became the first in his extended family to pursue higher education and studied chemistry at Providence College (BS 1957). He lived at home throughout college and was known to bring fellow students to his house for a hot meal when their funds ran short. He earned the PhD in chemistry at Brown University in 1961 and secured a postdoctoral fellowship at the famed Bell Research Labs in New Jersey. In 1963 he joined the faculty at Cal State LA where he established a strong teaching program (1969 Cal State LA Outstanding Professor Award) and a vigorous research group using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) as the main analytical tool. He secured grant funding from the American Chemical Society, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and developed a solid national reputation for studying cation solvation by NMR methods. Recognizing the contributions Prof. Fratiello made to advancing faculty-mentored student research throughout the Department and College, the high field NMR facility was named in his honor.
Though he was an accomplished chemist and teacher, Tony avoided the spotlight and preferred to help develop the careers of others. He joyfully celebrated the achievements of students and colleagues and nominated them for local, regional, and national awards. He appreciated the notion that much can be accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit. He served as department chair multiple times over his nearly four decades on the faculty.
He felt a strong affinity for the Cal State LA student body, especially first-generation college attenders. He included many in his research group, where they experienced career development within a culture of mentoring, community, and teamwork. Many talented students, including some with checkered academic records, were encouraged through participation in his group to complete their undergraduate studies and pursue advanced training, earning MS, PhDs, MDs, DDS, and other advanced degrees.
He expanded the reach of his mentoring impact by securing research training grants from the National Science Foundation to establish Research Initiative in Minority Institutions (RIMI), Undergraduate Research Program (URP), and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) initiatives which supported student training in laboratories throughout the department. He also collaborated with Prof. Vicki Kubo Anderson, Prof. Carlos Gutierrez, and Lisa Bautista as the core in jointly administering the MARC and MBRS/RISE research training programs for over a quarter century and in establishing the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Programs. In one of the many planning conversations for MORE, Tony said: “Let’s create opportunities for students to develop their talents so that excellence becomes ordinary, commonplace”.
His wife Barbara preceded Tony in death in 2002. He is survived by their three children, Jennifer, ToniAnn, and Joe, who, along with his many friends, students, and colleagues, will miss him greatly.
In loving memory, the family respectfully asks for gifts to the Anthony Fratiello Endowed Scholarship, a meaningful tribute reflecting his values and legacy, in lieu of flowers.