Adler, D. (1999, May 10). In Memory of Dr Frank Spingola ?, August 3, 1937 - April 9, 1999. Lionís Voice, p. 8. (DCL Archives)
In Memory of Dr Frank Spingola, August 3, 1937 - April 9, 1999
By David Adler
To Frank Spingola, April 13, 1999
Although Frank Spingola has been at Dowling College for the past twenty-nine years and I have known him for all of that time, we have been close friends for only the last eight years or so. I regret that. I think Frank did too.
Since the renaissance in our relationship however, I have come to know Frank pretty well and I would like to communicate some thoughts I’ve had over the last several days, about Frank Spingola as I knew him.
Frank was the most generous of men. He would be the first among us to suggest a collection for flowers when someone was sick or grieving, or for a gift for a happy occasion or holiday. In fact, more often than not, Frank would put up all of the cash required and then let everyone know their proportionate share. But one was thus informed only once; if one did not respond or contribute their fair share, Frank would make up the difference himself-without complaint, without calling attention to the inequity. He didn’t do this once or twice-he did it all the time. When I was recovering from shoulder surgery last year-not a life threatening operation by any means-Frank called me several times a week and insisted on coming by to share the latest campus news with me and to bring my mail and to keep me in touch. But there were many recipients of his kindness.
There are among us today some who will forever remember Frank for his love and compassion through very dark times. He was always available to hear a colleague’s plaint, to console an aching heart, or to help a lost soul. A few years ago, as we were leaving some dress-up function at the College, Frank remarked that he liked the necktie I was wearing, at which point I pulled it from my collar and handed it to him. Chuckling, he said he thought I was crazy for handing him the tie just-like-that. To which I responded, “Look who’s talking, this is just a tie, you’re always giving someone the shirt off your back.”
Although I was never able to find it, Frank must have had a Jewish calendar (or a Rabbi) stashed away somewhere. He knew when Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, and Hanukkah were and he never failed to call to express his best wishes. At those times of the year when we both had religious holidays coming up, I can’t remember beating him to the punch, so to speak.
Kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness weren’t his only qualities. Courage was another. Frank spent long hours preparing for his classes and gave freely of his time to his students. He was willing to help in any way he could. But he expected an honest effort in return.
In an atmosphere of rampant grade inflation and in an age when Colleges think of their students as customers (who of course, are always right), Frank refused to abandon his high academic standards. It took great courage to resist the pressure that was brought to bear. Time and time again and with dignity and strength he did resist.
Frank was an unabashed family man. He adored Anna and reveled in her charming innocence. He was proud of, and delighted with, his children Frank and Laura. I never heard him complain about them-even when they were teenagers. As they grew older he spoke often of their accomplishments, never boasting, never claiming credit. Frank was always off to one family gathering or another, always looking forward to get-togethers with his brother Tony and his father Frank. He loved his family deeply. Love pervaded Ann and Frank’s home and palpable warmth enveloped all those who entered.
To me, however, as a colleague and a friend, his most matchless trait was his faithfulness, his loyalty. As I got to know Frank better I came to recognize this remarkable quality and it drew us closer together. When Frank would relate to me an important event or discussion I had not witnessed, I knew that he spoke with no exaggeration or distortion. Even if he had a personal point of view, I would get the straight scoop first, with no editorials. When It came to sharing confidences with Frank, I had no reservations. I trusted him completely. I had no more loyal friend than Frank Spingola.
While I was jotting down some of these remarks yesterday and thinking about the tragic event that brings us here, an oddball thought occurred to me. English is the richest language in the world, having more words than any other, but consider this in contradiction terms: We all know of Frank’s giving heart when we remember his compassion and generosity, his stout heart, when we speak of his courage and determination, and his true heart when I refer to his loyalty. How then, can we justly refer to our loss as being caused by a heart that failed?
I’d like to close my brief remarks with a personal farewell to Frank by reciting a short poem written by George Santayana which I find particularly appropriate:
With You a Part of Me
With you a part of me hath passed away;
For in the peopled forest of my mind
A tree made leafless by this wintery wind
Shall never don again its green array.
Chapel and fireside, country road and bay,
Have something of their friendliness resigned;
Another, if I would, I could not find,
And I am Grown much older in a day.
But yet I treasure in my memory
Your gift of charity, and young heart’s ease,
And the dear honor of your amity;
For these once mine, my life is rich with these.
And I scarce know which part may be greater be-
What I keep of you, or you rob from me.
With Love, your friend
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Last Modified on May 11, 2012, at 04:32 PM by LPR