Arrangements for Mr. Leo DiMaio’s services are now known. Calling hours will be held from 3-7 pm on Monday, February 24, 2014 at the Nardolillo Funeral Home, 1296 Park Avenue, Cranston, RI 02910. A funeral mass will be held at 11 am on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at Holy Apostles Church, 800 Pippin Orchard Road, Cranston, RI 02921. Burial will be at St. Ann’s Cemetery, Cranston, RI.
At the request of the DiMaio family, TD students and alumni are asked to serve as honor guard for “Mr.D” at Holy Apostles Church.
Leo F. DiMaio Jr., Director Emeritus of the Talent Development Program at the University of Rhode Island, passed away at his home in Cranston on February 20, 2014 surrounded by his loving family and friends. He is survived by his wife Ilene, son Leo III and his wife Jamie, daughter Mary Ellen, as well as three grandchildren, Stephanie, Angelica, and Leo IV.
Leo was one of Rhode Island’s strongest and most recognized educational advocates. He dedicated his life and career to advancing the cause of expanding educational opportunity for students of color and disadvantaged students. While Director of Education and Inmate Activity at the Adult Correctional Institution, he broke new ground in creating educational opportunities for inmates. Shortly thereafter, with the late Reverend Arthur L. Hardge, Leo co-founded Special Programs for Talent Development at URI in the turbulent era directly following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. Known as “Mr. D”, he was a beloved and revered figure to generations of Talent Development students. Leo served with great distinction for over thirty years at URI. He was instrumental in diversifying the face of the University. Upon “retirement” from URI in 1998, Leo continued his work with College Readiness, a program he created to provide further educational opportunity to a new generation of marginalized youth.
Among the many honors Leo earned are the URI Administrative Excellence Award, the URI Presidential Award, the URI Multicultural Center Lifetime Achievement Award, the DaVinci Center Person of the Year Award, the Robinson-Kizarian Award, and the City of Providence Martin Luther King Hall of Fame Award. He was also inducted into the LaSalle Academy and URI Athletic Halls of Fame. In 1999, URI’s then-President Robert L. Carothers honored Leo with the creation of the DiMaio Scholars Program. Hundreds of additional students of color and disadvantaged students beyond Talent Development have received significant scholarships and academic support through this initiative.
Throughout his life, Leo understood relationships and was a loyal friend to an unfathomably large and diverse group of people. “A friend is a friend is a friend” is a motto he lived by. He knew people well in all walks of life. Another former URI President, the late Frank Newman, once said “If I was in Bangkok, Thailand and someone heard I was from Rhode Island, the first question asked would be: Do you know Leo DiMaio?” Thus far-reaching relationships and friendships were at the core of Leo’s life.
While Leo’s dedication to education and his lifework brought many awards, accolades, and deep satisfaction, it was with his family that he spent his most cherished time. Leo’s love of family, his wife Ilene, son Leo and his wife Jamie, and daughter Mary Ellen, was complete and unconditional. He had a very special place in his heart reserved for his three grandchildren- Stephanie, Angelica, and Leo IV. To them he was “Poppy.” His love, his words, and his lessons will never be forgotten.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the DiMaio/Forleo Endowed Scholarship, c/o URI Foundation, 79 Upper College Road, Kingston, RI 02881.
Talent Development Program Description
The Talent Development Program at the University of Rhode Island serves Rhode Island high school graduates who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. A majority of TD students are students of color. Students admitted to TD have taken the required core academic courses in high school but their overall academic profiles do not make them eligible to be admitted through the regular admission process. TD requires an intensive summer academic program prior to the start of the fall semester. During the TD Summer Program students take university courses and live on campus. TD students who successfully complete the TD Summer Program continue their enrollment at URI in the fall. TD students receive academic and individual support from TD Advisors and mentors, and most receive the need-based Hardge/Forleo Grant. To be considered for the TD Program, students apply for admission to URI indicating their interest in TD, and then are considered through a competitive review process.
What We Do
TD recruits students with college potential, admits them through a rigorous Summer Program, provides them with an assigned academic advisor, and retains students with financial and other assistance.