Carmelo Privitera

Published December 19, 2016

Carmelo A. Privitera, a research scientist and professor emeritus of biological sciences, died Dec. 11 in Albany after a short illness. He was 93.

A native of Buffalo, Privitera studied for two years at Canisius College before enlisting in the Army during World War II. Fluent in Italian, French and German, he was an intelligence officer and gathered information during the liberation of Paris that helped root out pockets of Nazi resistance. He attained the rank of lieutenant.

Returning from the service, Privitera completed a bachelor’s degree in biology at Canisius, then went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

After teaching at St. Thomas College and the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, he earned a doctorate in biology from Saint Louis University.

Privitera joined the UB faculty in 1965. A cell biologist, he specialized in depressed metabolism in animals such as pygmy mice and painted turtles. He also did research into muscular dystrophy in conjunction with one of his doctoral students, Michael Hudecki, who suffered from the disease and went on to become one of his colleagues in the Department of  Biological Sciences.

A recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1982, Privitera retired in 2000.

A devout Catholic, he was active for many years in the Newman Center at UB, where he served as a lector and Eucharistic minister. After moving to Albany in 2006, he founded the Catholic parish in the Avila Retirement Community, where he lived.

He was an accomplished artist and created hundreds of hand-painted greeting cards for birthdays and holidays in watercolors and acrylics. He also was a woodcarver and crafted many canes and walking sticks with ornamental heads.