Frank DiDonna (1956-2004)

Last updated: June 4, 2009
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Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 11:31:54 -0500 (EST)
From: Jim Connell
To: Sandy Heinz and Jacques L'Heureux
Subject: Frank DiDonna

Dear Sandy and Jacques,

I learned the following from the director's office here:

A friend of the DiDonna Family provided me with the following information regarding a trust fund that is being established in Frank's Memory for his children:

Contributions may be made to:

The DiDonna Children Education Trust
c/o Thomas F. Torr Esquire
8 Portland Avenue
Dover, NH 03820

Frank's NH wake was Saturday afternoon and was extremely well attended. He made a great impression on the people here and was very well liked, and will be much missed. The family was planning to fly back to Chicago Sunday with the body. I expect Lino will provide additional details of the Chicago arrangements.

Jim Connell

Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 17:36:13 -0600
From: "Eugene M. Murphy"
Subject: Frank Di Donna Memorial Service Information

Frank DiDonna, formerly of Bensenville, beloved husband of Paula, nee Giannakopoulos; devoted father of Joseph and Gina; loving son of Giuseppe and Anna DiDonna; dear son-in-law of Georgia and Gus Giannakopoulos; dear brother of Carmela (Vincenzo) Campobasso, Antonia (Joseph) Mingari, Valentina (Honorio) Ruiz, Maria, Domenico (Slavica) and Pasquale DiDonna; dear brother-in-law of Sue (Edward) Bisconti.

Funeral Tuesday, 9 a.m. from Salerno's Rosedale Chapels, 450 W. Lake St., Roselle (3/4 mi. W of Bloomingdale/Roselle Rd.) 60172 to St. Joseph Church for 10 a.m. Mass. Interment All Saints Cemetery. Visitation Monday from 3 to 9 p.m.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Di Donna Family Education Trust Fund, c/o Thomas F. Torr, ESQ, 8 Portland Avenue, Dover NH 03820, (603) 749-1300.

For Memorial Service info call 630-889-1700.

Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 11:47:31 -0600
From: "Eugene M. Murphy"
Subject: Frank DiDonna

I just heard that Frank DiDonna passed away Wednesday evening, 11/10/2004, of a heart attack. This incredibly sad news hits me like a ton of bricks.

I think Frank was born on May 26, 1956. So, he'd be only 48 years old.

He was born a 'blue' baby in Italy, and has always had such a weird heart murmur that his cardiologist frequently wanted other doctors to listen to it, due its uniqueness. Frank told me that his cardiologist wanted him to undergo open heart surgery over 18 years ago, but I guess Frank always resisted it.

Frank sent me email regarding his University of New Hampshire job offer shortly before he even talked to Skip about it. I thought he was asking for my opinion, or if I knew anything about UNH that he didn't; so, I told him the same thing Skip later did: Yes! By all means, Go! Bruce McKibben, Cliff Lopate, and Jim Connell were great guys to work with, and his current position at U of C had been a little unstable for many years.

Frank was a great guy and a wonderful to work with.

Jeez. Paula, his wife, and Joey and Gina, his children, are probably as grief stricken as the rest of his extremely close knit family, consisting of his parents, 2 brothers, and 4 sisters, all of whom I've met. Joseppi, as I recall is the name of Frank's father. And in order of age, Frank's brothers and sisters are: Dominic, Maria, Frank, Carmella, Pasquale (Lino), Tina, and Toni.

When I hear about the arrangements, I'll forward the information to you.


Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 10:27:18 -0500
From: Bruce McKibben
Subject: Re: Frank DiDonna


Thanks for getting the word out. I would like to correct one error I made in my first message. Frank died the evening of Weds. Nov. 10, not Nov. 11. As I understand it he went out to the garage to get something just before dinner. When he had not returned after several minutes his wife sent his children out to get him. They found him collapsed on the floor. A wake will be held here in NH tomorrow evening (Saturday), and then the family will accompany Frank's body back to Chicago. I presume there will be a funeral service prior to burial in Chicago.


Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 21:22:52 -0500
From: Jacques L'Heureux
Subject: Frank DiDonna

LASR alumni and friends,

I learned today from several sources that Frank DiDonna passed away last night at home following a massive heart attack. He was 48.

As some of you may already know, he had moved to the University of New Hampshire earlier this year to work with other scientists from LASR who moved there a few years ago. His brother Pasquale (Leno) is still with LASR. Leno's email address is

More details can be found in the attached message from Bruce McKibben.


Jacques L'Heureux, Columbia, Maryland

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Frank DiDonna
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 15:06:22 -0500
From: Bruce McKibben
To: Jacques L'Heureux

Dear Jacques,

I am sorry to report that Frank DiDonna died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack last evening, November 10 (ed). He had moved from Chicago to the University of New Hampshire only last spring, and was already deeply involved in the work of the UNH Space Science Center. His exceptional skills were much in demand and he seemed to be enjoying his work here. We, in turn, were delighted to have him here, and were looking forward to continuing to work with him on projects now in development.

He leaves his wife, Paula and two children, Joseph, 12, and Gina, 10. Arrangements are pending, but burial will be in Chicago. If anyone would like to send a note of condolence to his family, their address in New Hampshire is 11 Thurston Drive, Lee, NH 03824.

R. Bruce McKibben
Research Professor 603-862-5087 (phone)
University of New Hampshire 603-862-3584 (fax)
Department of Physics and
Space Science Center, EOS
Morse Hall, 39 College Road, Durham, NH 03824-3525

Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 09:33:42 -0600
From: Valerie Smith
Subject: Frank DiDonna

Frank was 48 years old. He moved to New Hampshire a year ago to work with the Simpson group. He was having a house built from the ground up, his family moved there this past July (wife and two kids).

Before he moved to New Hampshire, he was working with the Carlstrom Group (the group I work for) on the SZA Telescope Project.

I will fondly remember seeing Frank and Lino coming to work and leaving work together - everyday.

This is so heartbreaking!!!!!!!!!!


Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 09:23:53 -0600 (CST)
From: John Carlstrom
Subject: Frank Di Donna

For those of you not a Chicagoan, Frank DiDonna was the engineer who worked with us on the electronic cards for the SZA. He left U Chicago to work in New Hampshire last year, but had continued to help us out. He was a wonderful man, always helpful and pleasant. Somehow it never really felt like he left Chicago.

I will miss him.

From: DiDonna, Pasquale "Lino"
Sent: Thursday, November 11, 2004 5:52 AM
To: Doyle-Vismantas, Maryann
Subject: Frank Pass away


Please pass this on to everyone. Yesterday My Brother Frank passed away at home. He had a massive heart attack. I don't know what the funeral arrangements are yet but I will let you know. Also, I won't be into work for awhile. Right now I am in New Hampshire trying to make arrangements to bring him back


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