Natale A. Sicuro 1934-2017

SEATTLE — Natale Anthony Sicuro, Ph.D., 83, passed away peacefully Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Seattle after a brief illness.

Natale was born July 19, 1934, in Warren, and raised as the son of Gaetano and Antoinette Sicuro, who migrated from Italy in the early 1900s.

He attended for 12 years St. Mary Catholic School in Warren, where he was a high school football and basketball star, and where he met the love of his life, Linda Rockman, whom he married in 1957.

Natale also loved golf; he was a caddy at the Trumbull Country Club and several other courses in the area and caddied for Ben Hogan when Mr. Hogan played in Warren.

Natale obtained his undergraduate degree at Kent State University after a brief period at Marquette University. He continued his education by receiving a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received the first-ever doctoral degree awarded by Kent State University in 1964.

Dr. Sicuro dedicated his life to academics, which impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of students across America. A leader of leaders, Dr. Sicuro’s career in education spanned over 35 years, from his first appointment as a northeast Ohio high school teacher — which included coaching football, baseball, basketball and track and field — to a college and university president for two public universities and one private institution. He also served as an expert adviser to the high-profile education clients of Peat Marwick and Mitchell in the late 1960s. Throughout his entire career in education, he was an impactful lobbyist at the state level and in Washington, D.C., constantly driving his mission to bring higher levels of capital and awareness to all colleges and universities.

Dr. Sicuro was a pioneer in the world of higher education with a strong belief that every American had the right to earn a college degree and that colleges and universities should serve the students and their families. His trademark was to do what was always right for the students, not necessarily what was popular even if it meant that he would be at risk personally. He spent over 10 years as a partner with a small group of elite educators who founded and developed the regional campus system at Kent State University, enabling students who could not afford to live away from home the opportunity to earn the same degree as at the main campus in Kent. He was also the chief architect of the Northeast Ohio School of Medicine and founded and developed the continuing education program at Kent State, enabling working professionals to further their education.

In 1978, Dr. Sicuro was appointed president of Southern Oregon College, and at the time, was the youngest university or college president in the nation. He completely transformed this institution, renaming it Southern Oregon University while raising millions of dollars of private capital. This coupled with “A” typical state funds, Dr. Sicuro’s dynamic style and energy completely transformed the university and surrounding communities. Under his leadership, an entirely new culture was created focused on what students and their families needed after their university career was over to succeed in life and to be a contributor to growth and prosperity in America. His focus was also to ensure that every student was provided the best opportunity to graduate with a degree, which in 1981 included his beautiful bride Linda, who received a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Oregon University. He also orchestrated the first international collegiate football game in America in 1986, between Southern Oregon University and Kwansei Gakuin University from Japan held in Ashland, Ore.

Dr. Sicuro went on to be president of two more universities, including Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., where he was the founder and president of the first law school in that state.

After retiring in 1991, Natale and Linda moved to Palm Desert, Calif., where they enjoyed a vibrant lifestyle with family and a broad and deep network of friends and neighbors. He and Linda were inseparable, except when Natale was on the golf course enjoying a good competitive moment with his close friends.

In 2015, Natale and Linda moved to Seattle to be closer to two of their children and four grandchildren. His endless passion for music was one of a kind, singing daily his favorite Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett or Robert Goulet songs in Italian and English up until just a few days before his passing.

Natale’s entire family was with him during his last days and hours including his beloved wife of over 60 years, Linda; his three children, Chris Ann Sicuro-Fouty, Dr. Paul Sicuro and Michael A. Sicuro; and his four grandchildren, Natalie, Abbey, Daniel and Jody.

Natale’s outgoing, dynamic and optimistic personality was captured by everyone he met.

A private gathering of immediate family and close friends will be held in Palm Desert, Calif., in late January, honoring and celebrating Natale’s life on earth.

Please share memories at www.becksfuneralhome.com.

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