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 85, 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. He was the beloved and devoted husband of wife Ilene (Norato) DiMaio for 58 years, father of Leo III and his wife Jamie, daughter Mary Ellen, and grandfather of three grandchildren, Stephanie, Angelica, and Leo Angelo. Born in Providence he was the son of the late Leo and Mary (Del Sesto) DiMaio. Brother of the late Anthony DiMaio. He leaves many cherished nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews who looked upon him as a leader and a mentor. A graduate of La Salle Academy, class of 1947, he also attended Massanutten Military Academy and then went on to graduate from Providence College in 1952. He earned a Master’s Degree in Education from The University of Rhode Island.
Mr. DiMaio was the first Director of Education and Recreation at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston. He was instrumental in inmates receiving their GED and held the first graduation for inmates at the institution. He also founded the first half-way house for ex-felons in the state of Rhode Island. In addition, he was the first head basketball coach at the Zuccolo Recreation Center in Providence. Due to his outstanding work and success, the center established the Leo DiMaio “Hall of Champions” which is proudly displayed there today. He was past President, YMCA Providence Businessmen’s Association and received the Man of the Year Award from that organization.
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. Along 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 Jr. 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.
Among the many honors Leo earned are the URI Administrative Excellence Award, the URI Presidential Award, URI Athletic Hall of Fame, the URI Multicultural Center Lifetime Achievement Award, The DaVinci Center Person of the Year Award, the Robinson-Kizirian Award, and the City of Providence Martin Luther King Jr. Hall of Fame Award. In addition, he was also inducted into the LaSalle Academy Hall 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 beyond Talent Development have received significant scholarships and academic support through this initiative.
Leo’s love of family for his wife Ilene, son Leo and wife Jamie, and daughter Mary Ellen, was complete and unconditional. Despite all his accomplishments Leo reserved a special place in his heart for his three grandchildren- Stephanie, Angelica, and Leo Angelo. To them he was “Poppy and there was nothing he would not do for them.” His love, his words, and his lessons will never be forgotten.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Holy Apostles Church, 800 Pippen Orchard Rd. Cranston, followed by burial in St. Ann Cemetery, Cranston.
Visiting hours are Monday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the NARDOLILLO FUNERAL HOME & Crematory, 1278 Park Ave. Cranston.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Leo F. DiMaio Endowed Scholarship, c/o URI Foundation, 79 Upper College Road, Kingston, RI 02881
Online Condolences
 

From: Tomas Avila   avilatomasalberto@gmail.com
Relationship:  Friend

My deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. D a Man dedicated to advancing the cause of expanding educational opportunity for students of color and disadvantaged students. The architect of a generation of Latino Leaders and the uplifting of many lives. You'll always be remember Mr. D and may you Rest In Peace.
Sent:  2/21/2014


From: Joseph Norato   Wyoming, RI
Relationship:  Newphew

It is hard to believe Uncle Leo has passed. His lessons to me about life will never be forgotten. He was a huge man, with a huge personality. He had faith and believed in all students that crossed his path. I am sure he changed the lives of many many people, and the world is a better place because God graced us with him. I feel fortunate to have been his nephew!
Sent:  2/21/2014


From: Danielle (Hill) Scott   scottdanielle1976@yahoo.com
Relationship:  TD Student

Mr. D. was an advocate, a pioneer and a trailblazer. His life's work and legacy lives on in all of his TD Students. Thank you, Mr. D. for all that you've done and have been to so many of us. May you rest in eternal peace. Sincerely, Danielle (Hill) Scott TD '94....because of Mr. D. And TD...URI c/o 1999. UPenn c/o 2001
Sent:  2/21/2014


From: Lisa Lynch   llynch3693@msn.com
Relationship:  Friend

Dear Leo & Family - I am so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. What an amazing man he was - he achieved so many important accomplishments during his lifetime - and I am sure his family is number one on his list! Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this difficult time. If there's anything I can do, just say the word. Take care! Lisa
Sent:  2/21/2014


From: Debbie Gardner (Rebeiro)   debbiekolbe@hotmail.com
Relationship:  friend

Mr. D was the reason I received a quality college education. He gave me the chance to succeed through the TD program. I will never forget what he did for me and for so many others.
Sent:  2/21/2014


From: Joe Rainone   jerainone@cox.net
Relationship:  Friend

Ilene, Leo III, Mary Ellen and family: My deepest sympathy for your loss. The obituary notice only minutely touched on what Leo accomplished and brought to everyone in his lifetime. He will be missed by all. I will always remember his competiveness on the handball courts of the Providence YMCA and the comradeship that was all ways exhibited to its many members from all walks of life. Joe Rainone
Sent:  2/22/2014


From: Brian Lightfoot Brown   Mesa
Relationship:  former student

Mr. D was a very strong person. He had an undeniable presence and was a very impressive man. I recall first meeting him when I was a 17 year old high school senior. I was so overwhelmed and impressed that, a year later, I was an incoming freshman at the University of Rhode Island through the Talent Development Program. Mr. D was such an intense speaker, especially when it came to his students. He personally assisted me during a difficult situation with a school issue when I was a student at URI and I will always recall his generosity and sincerity. The Narragansett Indian Tribe, of which I am a member, will fondly recall the work he put in to assist many of us to get a fair chance at higher education. Mr. DiMaio, I am grateful to have known you and will never forget you. May your soul rest as you journey to the other world. Rest, Netop.
Sent:  2/22/2014


From: Carlene and Anthony Damato   Cranston
Relationship:  Friend and Patient

We wish to send our deepest sympathy to the entire DiMaio family. May you RIP, Mr. DeMaio.
Sent:  2/22/2014


From: sye johnson   mansfield
Relationship:  former student

Mr.D thank you for your believing in a student body that the others could not or would not believe in. It was your unwavering efforts, determination and optimism that brought out our potential even if we did see it ourselves. I was one of the students that foolishly took the "TD money" for granted, like it was always going to always be there. Now that I am an educator myself, I appreciate all of the diligence and moxie that you demonstrated year after year by fighting for those funds. Your whole life has been one of advocacy, whether it was for inmates, students of color, or anyone who that you felt was disenfranchised. This is the legacy that you leave behind. Mr.D, the educator, the activist, the lifelong learner and committed family man it was a pleasure and inspiration to know you. Taubut
Sent:  2/22/2014


From: rudy   rudster69@gmail.com
Relationship:  Friend of a friend

My prayers go out to family.
Sent:  2/22/2014


From: gail&steven dilibero   gad54@cox.net
Relationship:  friend

DEAR IIENE &MARYELLEN SO SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR LOSS ,I KNOW HOW MUCH HE WAS LOVED, AND LOVED BY EVERYONE , SO VERY SORRY GAIL,STEVE,
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: LOIS GARGANESE   gad54@cox.net
Relationship:  friend

i am so very sorry for your loss i know what a wonderful husband and father he was and loved by so many people sorry for your loss love lois
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: Al Cournoyer   arcournoyer@cox.net
Relationship:  Former player

My sincerest condolences to coach Leo's family. More than 50 years ago Coach taught us the fundamentals of basketball and more importantly the basics of life. Thanks to his encouragement and guidance I became a teacher and tried every day to instill in my students the lessons Coach taught us. He will be missed and always remembered.
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: Marc S. Rosario   domino7750@gmail.com
Relationship:  Family

i have had a wonderful journey with Mr.D & family & it's not over Mr.D gave me a purpose in life & I owe him & the family the best I can do @ a day at a time,my dearest friend I will forever remember our time together Love & Respect!!!
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: Dian Cullion, Sara Colon   djcpac90@aol.com
Relationship:  fortunate friends

Sara and I are both so sad to hear of Mr. DiMaio's passing. He was always so kind, caring and such an inspiration to Sara and myself. His kindness, guidance and generosity shall never be forgotten.
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: Jim Vespia   Jimvespia@veslaw.com
Relationship:  Friend and student

Leo was always there for others, never asking anything in return. Those of us he helped knew all he wanted was for us to pass it on. However no one could do it like Leo.
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: Gene Wills   genewills@narragansettri.com
Relationship:  Former Player and Friend

My condolences to Coach's family. Coach took a bunch of kids in 1959 and he showed us how to be a team, taught us how to compete and turned us into an undefeated team. Forever grateful for that experience.
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: Preston Murphy and Family   Cranston
Relationship:  Former Student

Mr. D truly is truly the definition of a Mentor...he guided me through my college career, provided me with one of my first jobs and eventually saw my oldest son take his first steps in Mr. & Mrs. D's home. I am happy to have had him in my life and sad for future Rhody Rams who won't. God Bless you Mr. D.
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: DOROTHY SENA KASHK   kashkd@yahoo.com
Relationship:  friend

TO ALL OF MR.D FAMILY AND FRIENDS MY DEEPEST SYMPATHY. MR.D.WAS A GREAT MAN FOR ALL THE PEOPLE HAD CONTACT WITH, NO MATTER WHAT THE ISSUES WAS HE WAS THERE TO PROVIDE SERVICES.GOD CALLED HIM TO REST IN PEACE FOR HE DID GOD'S WORK WITH THE POPULATION IN THIS STATE.NOW HE'S LOOKING DOWN AND IS SMILING TO SEE ALL THE GREAT WORK HE HAS COMPLETED WITH EVERONE HE TOUCH. R.I.P. MR.D MR.D THIS IS DOTTIE NOT CAROL (SMILE)
Sent:  2/23/2014


From: WALTER MORGAN   MORGAN_WALTER@HOTMAIL.COM
Relationship:  SINCERE FRIEND

Mr D. will always be the man that changed the lives of so many of us from TD Nation. He not only changed our educational thinking, he changed the way we thought of ourselves. He was my mentor and my friend. I will remember him ALWAYS!THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING MR D.
Sent:  2/24/2014


From: Pattie McMahon   patricia.mcmahon@oag.ri.gov
Relationship:  friend

my deepest sorrows! Such a wonderful.
Sent:  2/24/2014


From: William Trezvant   wtrezvant@hotmail.com
Relationship:  TD URI Student class of 1991

Mr. D was a great man and will be missed. I am thankful to know him and was blessed with the opportunity that the TD family gave me to go to college. Mr D always expected us to do well and encouraged us to follow our dreams. Mr D was great friend and I will miss him.
Sent:  2/24/2014


From: Wendy Grave   historychs1@verizon.net
Relationship:  Former Student

Mr D Thank you for everything you did for TD Nation with your contribution to this world, if it were not I would have not attended college and become the person I am today. Thank you for your dedication to the cause. May you rest in peace.
Sent:  2/24/2014


From: Vivian McLeod Nichols   vivnic98@yahoo.com
Relationship:  student

My condolences to the DiMaio family. Reading the condolences reminded me of the influence Mr. D had on my life. He believed in me. In spite of the hundreds he interacted with, he knew my name! He called me aside and encouraged me when I was down, chastised me when I wasn't doing what I was supposed to and let me know no matter what, he would go to bat for me and everyone else! Mr. D was what legends are made of! He was not influenced by race, gender or finance. Mr. D treated everyone with courtesy and respect. He was a father figure and friend. Thank you Mr. D for all you did and the generations you have inspired. You will be missed! Thank you Mrs. DiMaio for sharing your husband. Thank You Leo and Mary Ellen for sharing your Dad. He was a blessing to all!
Sent:  2/24/2014


From: Peter Rossi   DnnFran12@yahoo.com
Relationship:  Dear Friends

Dear Eileen, Leo was the most gracious, kind, and considerate man that we have had the pleasure of knowing. His good work on the behalf of the underprivileged people that were fortunate to make his acquaintance have earned him his place in heaven. All the people and organizations that were touched by Leo should consider themselves blessed. His kind will not come again soon enough. Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. With much love, Peter and Alice
Sent:  2/24/2014


From: Martha Llenas-Ferreira   Llenasmartha@gmail.com
Relationship:  TD/URI formal student

Mr.D , so much to say, it brings tears and pain to my heart to see you go , but You will never be forgotten and neither would be that voice of yours telling us, never to give up and to shoot for the stars. Thank you Mr.D and thank you to your great Family.
Sent:  2/24/2014


From: Richard F. Purnell   kingkong@uri.edu
Relationship:  Friend & Colleague since 1970

My deepest condolences to Ilene and family. I was always uplifted by his warm smile and greeting and still enjoy found memories of our wonderful handball matches.
Sent:  2/25/2014


From: Ruth Fradin Singer   ruru958@aol.com
Relationship:  friend

I am so sorry to hear the news of Mr. D's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.
Sent:  2/25/2014


From: Niurka Quinteros   Providence
Relationship:  TD Alumn

My deepest condolences to all of the DiMaio family! I also would like to thank you, at the same time, for sharing Mr. D with the rest of us. He will never be forgotten, especially by those of us whose life he has touched. He will always shine on our lives like the strong bright star he was. He leaves a legacy behind like no other higher education advocate leader in this state. It is very difficult for most people to see the potential behind some of our most disadvantaged youth. He could see that! He could make others see themselves with the true prospective power within them. Thank you for believing and establishing a new wave of leaders in our communities!!! God bless you! Niurka
Sent:  2/25/2014


From: Wendy Maria   Providence
Relationship:  TD Student

Mr. DiMaio was a great man, he saw the potential in all of us. Due to his great vision and hard work, I was able to be the first in my family to have a bachelor's degree. He was right, education is freedom. My condolence to his family. He will be missed but never forgotten.
Sent:  2/25/2014


From: Michael and Paula Bailey   North Providence
Relationship:  Friend

Mrs. DiMaio, Leo III and Jaime, and Mary Ellen, it is with heartfelt sorrow that we extend out sympathy's to you at this time of great loss. Leo touched many people in his life and brought great respect for the DiMaio family. We must now rely on all those wonderful memories of him to keep him with us forever. Love always - Paula and Michael
Sent:  2/25/2014


From: Terri DeWitt Williams   Dallas
Relationship:  TD Student

Mr. Di never looked for the spot light for all that he did for us TD tudents. He genuinely just wanted us to have an opportunity for a great education and to be productive contributors to society. Because of this man, I learned to reach out and to assist young people. I have been involved in many programs to develop students on their way to college, even paid for several classes, mentored countless students and even had one move into my house and adopt her as my own. Giving a helping hand and assisting with a head start in education was all TD was about. As Mr. Di would if you learn no one can take what you know > away. He would also say you learned it – now go earn it. I am prayerfully thankful that God had Mr. Di’s put his spotlight on me and set me off on an educational adventure that has never stopped. Love me some Mr. Di, Rev, Sharon and Frank Forleo!! These four people lived and breathe for our success – Lucky me to have been included in that number. Mr. D made a difference and I am one of those differences. God bless and keep his memory alive. His family is in my prayers.
Sent:  2/25/2014


From: Angela M. Castellucci   acas@uri.edu
Relationship:  uri employee

To the DiMaio Family, I met Mr. D many years ago what a great person and all the great things he did for "his kids" will never be forgotten! I love this picture of him it really captures his great smile!! He will be missed.
Sent:  2/26/2014


From: Anthony Crocenzi   scrocenzi@cox.net
Relationship:  Friend

Dear Mrs. DiMaio: Sorry for sending this post so late but my husband had the spelling of the name wrong. However, I asked the Lord to inspire be after reading his obituary on behalf of my husband Anthony from (Ruggeri's Market) he wanted you to know how very sorry he is for your loss. Your husband was an amazing man he has touched so many and will continue to guide you and your children now that he is with his savior Jesus Christ. This life is only a temporary journey life with God is everlasting. He has run a good race with the help of God's grace and has spilled the grace over to so many. This is what life is all about taking the effort running the race through trials and tribulations finishing as a disciple of Jesus Christ. May Our Lord Jesus hold him deeply in his heart and may his heart always be with you. He is so at peace. Jesus has destroyed death by his sacrifice on the cross and his Reserrection. Leo is at peace. Anthony & Susan Crocenzi
Sent:  3/12/2014



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