Potsdam: Richard J. Del Guidice, 81, Potsdam, died Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at Canton-Potsdam Hospital from complications of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Richard wrote his own obituary “so Kathryn won’t have another duty at a difficult time.” Excerpts follow:
Richard was born September 20, 1939 in Manhattan to Dominic and Ellen Tobin Del Guidice, who were wonderful parents in all ways. He and his beloved brother, Robert, were blessed by their limitless love and guidance.
Richard grew up in an apartment building in Astoria, where his mother’s sister also lived with her husband and three girls. The two sisters created one family that made cousins into sisters and brothers. Richard attended public schools, and “when not in school, it was stickball, street football and, in warmer weather, sandlot baseball.”
From high school, Richard went to Drew University, then UMass Amherst, where he earned his PhD with a concentration in Constitutional Law. His dissertation was titled, “Justice Brennan and the Freedom of Expression.”
After four years teaching at a community college, Richard took a position at SUNY Potsdam in 1968, planning to stay a “short time.” Forty-three years later, he retired, earning Professor Emeritus status. He was a treasured educator and pre-law advisor, valued mentor to junior faculty, superb academic advisor, esteemed department chair, respected Dean of Liberal Studies, candid colleague and, most important, true friend.
Richard’s passion for teaching defined his professional life. According to alumni, his courses in Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, and Bioethics and the Law were tough, demanding, and among the best the college offered. His Socratic method of teaching, asking questions to stimulate critical thinking and bring forth preconceived assumptions, was legendary. It elicited terror in unprepared students and exhilaration in those offering the correct answers. In 1983, he was awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1997, he was honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
As an academic advisor, Richard provided guidance to hundreds of Political Science majors and undeclared students. For 15 years, he was academic advisor to the women’s basketball team. “Dr. D.” rarely missed one of their games. In 1997 and 1998, he received the President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advising.
Richard served as department chair for many years, continually challenging his colleagues to introduce new and relevant courses. He received the President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship Relating to Cultural Pluralism in 1997 for “promoting and enhancing a multi-cultural approach to education.” In July 2019, he was the only founding member of the now-named Politics Department to speak at its 50th anniversary celebration.
From 1985 – 1992, Dr. Del Guidice was Dean of Potsdam College’s School of Liberal Studies. In November 1997, Gary Hind ’77, and his wife Deborah ’75, Niskayuna, NY, donated $25,000 to SUNY Potsdam, the first-ever alumni gift to honor a living professor.
“Potsdam gave me a career more fulfilling than one I might have designed ahead of time had I been given the opportunity. I found great friends – Charlie Smith, George Kahn, Shali Singh, Roger Linden, and a long list of others who were true gifts,” Richard wrote. “One of the real joys of my retirement has been the number of students with whom I have still have contact. They have cheered me with their presence in my life and successes in theirs.”
“I have been very fortunate to have had a wonderful and long life. I have been most blessed because Kathryn Marie Horvath Del Guidice has been at my side.” On January 14, 1977, Kathy Horvath, an aspiring pre-law student, met SUNY Potsdam’s pre-law advisor, Dr. Del Guidice, for the first time. It did not take long for both to realize they had just met the person who would become the love of their life. Richard and Kathryn joyously celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2019 by exchanging ruby wedding bands.
“There are simply no words to adequately describe the love and care she has given me over the past 40+ years,” Richard wrote. “Her industry and devotion, her consistent fulfilling of the vow she took, ‘in sickness and in health,’ especially since I was diagnosed, have been indescribable.”
Richard is also survived by his son David from a former marriage, David’s wife Diana, and their daughters, Ava and Bella of Canton, CT; beloved cousin Joyce Ferrara, Lindenhurst, NY; sister-in-law Robin Del Guidice, Tampa, FL; niece Lisa Del Guidice, Rahway, NJ; nephew Robb Del Guidice, O’Fallon, MO; and the children of his deceased nephew James: James, Emma and Katie Del Guidice, Chester, NJ.
Richard was predeceased by his brother, Robert, in 2014; his nephew, James, in 2017; his father-in-law, Fred Horvath, in 1988; mother-in-law, Madeline Horvath, and sister-in-law, Helen Horvath, both in 2020.
Close and loving bonds were also established with Kathryn’s large family. Richard is also survived by Fred Horvath and his children, Abby Scott and her husband Tony, and Luke Horvath, all of Las Vegas, NV; Frank and Era Villaver Horvath, Henderson, NV; Anthony Horvath, North Royalton, OH and his sons: Rachel and Anthony Horvath II, Buffalo; Dominic Horvath and Matthew Horvath, Mayfield Village, OH; and John and Debbie Horvath, New Hartford, NY, and his son Johnny and Corinne Horvath, Chesterfield, VA.
Kathryn’s two youngest sisters are the daughters Richard always wanted. They are Patricia Tyo, and her husband Jim, Louisville, CO, and their children, Madeline Tyo-Hauser and Dan Hauser, Boulder, CO and Joseph Tyo and his partner Jordan Langton, Denver, CO; and Barbara Butensky, her husband Noah and their daughter Ella, Rockville Centre, NY.
Due to COVID restrictions, there will be no calling hours. A memorial service will be held at a later date when family and friends, cherished former students and advisees, and colleagues can gather safely to celebrate his life.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the Richard J. Del Guidice Scholarship Fund at SUNY Potsdam. Gifts may be made online at potsdam.edu/give. (Select “other” in the designation field and enter: Richard J. Del Guidice Scholarship Fund); by mail to Potsdam College Foundation, 44 Pierrepont Ave., Potsdam, NY 13676 (write his scholarship fund in the check memo); or by phone 315-267-3253.
In appreciation of the expert care Richard received from Canton-Potsdam Hospital on numerous occasions, contributions in his memory may also be sent to the St. Lawrence Health Foundation, online at www.stlawrencehealthsystem.org/donate (In the “comment” box, enter “For the Emergency Dept. in memory of Richard J. Del Guidice”); by mail to St. Lawrence Health Foundation, Attn: April Grant, 50 Leroy St., Potsdam, NY 13676, (write in the check memo, “Emergency Dept. in memory of R Del Guidice); or by phone 315-261-5418.
Arrangements are with the Donaldson-Seymour Funeral Home, Potsdam, where memories and condolences may be shared online at www.donaldsonseymour.com