April 8, 1933 – Jan. 25, 2018
Frank Cozzarelli had parents who believed education was the key to success. He proved them right.
The first in his family to attend college, he became a respected professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University at Buffalo. Retired since 1996, his presence is still felt.
“The chairman of the department told my sister that he’s beloved and he’s a legend,” said his daughter Delia, who teaches English as a second language at UB. “I’ve had a student come up to me and ask, ‘Are you related to Dr. Cozzarelli? That book changed my life.’ His book is really revered.”
Mr. Cozzarelli died Jan. 25 in his North Buffalo home after a period of declining health. He was 84.
Born in Jersey City, N.J., Francis Anthony Cozzarelli was the son of Italian immigrants. His father, who left school after sixth grade, was a shoemaker.
He earned master’s degrees in engineering in 1955 and applied mechanics in 1958, both from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. He completed a doctorate in applied mechanics from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, now part of New York University, in 1964.
After working for two years as a stress analyst for Gibbs and Cox Inc. in New York City, he became an engineering instructor at Pratt Institute in 1957.
The following year, he married Kathleen I. Burke, the sister of a high school friend. They moved from Brooklyn to Buffalo in 1962 when he joined the UB faculty as an assistant professor.
He became an associate professor in 1966 and a full professor in 1971. He was director of graduate studies in the Engineering Department in the 1970s and served as acting chairman in 1975-76.
His research included viscoelasticity, a property of polymers like the ones in Silly Putty and memory foam mattresses. He also studied inelastic wave propagation and damping with shape-memory materials.
He published nearly six dozen technical papers, contributed to three textbooks and co-authored, with I. H. Shames, the 1991 graduate-level textbook, “Elastic and Inelastic Stress Analysis.”
He was awarded Fulbright and National Science Foundation grants for study and research in the Netherlands, where he was a visiting professor in 1968-69 at Technische Hogeschool in Delft, and in Italy in 1976-77, where he was a visiting scientist at Euratom in Ispra and a visiting professor at the Politechnico di Milano. He followed that with a sabbatical year in a villa on Lake Como.
He was named Professor of the Year in 1965-66 by the honor society Tau Kappa Chi, now Tau Beta Pi, at UB.
“He was a perfectionist about teaching his classes,” his daughter, Delia, said. “His students still use his notes today. He explained things so clearly and so well.”
He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Engineering Science Society, American Academy Mechanics, Sigma Xi and Tau Beta Pi.
He was an avid antique collector. He refinished and restored old clocks, music boxes and pianos, including a player piano.
For about 20 years, he, his wife and his brother-in-law, Ken Burke, took the family on canoe trips to the Canadian wilderness.
“They were very rigorous trips,” his daughter said. “There were no roads. There were no people.”
His wife, a tax accountant, died last May 9. A younger brother, Nicholas, a renowned biochemist and DNA researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, died in 2006.
Survivors include four other daughters, Catherine, Isabelle, Julia and Claire; a son, John; a brother, Angelo; and eight grandchildren.
Services were private.