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Remembering Rocco Caporale

Remembering Rocco Caporale

Stephanie Longo (July 6, 2008)
Rocco Caporale

Noted sociologist was also the premier scholar of the 1980 Irpinia-Basilicata Earthquake



     The terremoto, the grande sisma brought us together. I never met Rocco Caporale, who died this past week, in person but our e-mail exchanges while I was completing my Master’s thesis at the University of Scranton will always remain precious to me.
     Our conversations started simply enough; a mutual friend told me that I had to get in touch with Prof. Caporale since he was the authority on the 1980 Irpinia-Basilicata Earthquake.  I had already heard of Prof. Caporale and looked forward to being able to discuss my family’s homeland with him.
     When I saw Prof. Caporale’s reply in my inbox, before opening it I immediately pictured a stereotypical academic—cold, stuffy, distant. I remember taking a deep breath, hoping that he wouldn’t be too annoyed that some grad student from Pennsylvania was bothering him about his research.
     The Prof. Caporale I came to know through our e-mail exchanges was warm, friendly, always willing to answer my questions… the complete opposite of what I had pictured. We remained in contact every so often even after my graduation; always remembering our common link, our beautiful Irpinia.
     Although Prof. Caporale was not born in Irpinia, to me, that is just as much a part of his bloodstream as it is mine. I could tell in our e-mails just how much he loved all of the Province of Avellino, how he was willing to do anything in his power to see our Irpinia fulfill its destiny and truly recover from the damage wrought that fateful November day in 1980. In fact, in one of his e-mails he wrote, “Irpinia is an acquired taste… a second home.”
   The Caporale Archives, part of the Disaster Research Center of the University of Delaware will, of course, forever be testament to a man who devoted almost 30 years to the study of the most tragic event ever to befall the Province of Avellino.
   What Prof. Caporale probably did not know was that his love for Irpinia was returned to him by its residents. No matter when I would visit the province, when I would discuss my research people would always mention his name with a smile. They knew how much he loved them. And, perhaps, that is an even stronger memorial to him.
     Grazie, Professore. Che Dio La benedica.

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