Henry C. Amoroso Jr., of Gorham, an associate professor emeritus of education at USM, passed away at 1:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 10 at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough at age 66 after a two-year battle with acute lymphatic leukemia.

Amoroso taught at USM for 28 years and strove to promote literacy while bringing together scholars from Cuba and Maine.

Amoroso started chemotherapy treatment in October of 2008 in the hopes of returning to teaching. He had been at the Maine Medical Center since May and was discharged on Thursday, Sept. 9 to hospice care.

According to USM spokesman Bob Caswell, Amoroso was involved in a wide range of activities, including the creation of a garden sanctuary at his home in Gorham, a project that took three years, and was known for being “an effective teacher, mentor, and a kind and generous man.”

“He took the time to listen, wouldn’t let them give up,” said Amoroso’s wife, Marilyn Amoroso. “He wanted each of his students to reach their full potential.”

“He always put others first,” she said, speaking of his dedication to his family and students.

“One of the hallmarks of Henry’s teaching was his skill at having students seek answers to their own questions rather than simply learning the answers to questions already asked,” said Jody Capelluti, a professor of educational leadership. “Henry was committed to helping students outside the scope of his classroom. At a recent multicultural gathering in Portland I met an individual relatively new to this country. During our conversation she proceeded to tell me that the reason she was pursuing a degree at USM was because of an initial course she had taken with a Dr. Amoroso. She spoke enthusiastically about the class and how he encouraged her to pursue a degree. As a result of his support she applied and was admitted,” he said

Capelluti said Amoroso served on a number of committees at USM.

“His unswerving dedication to asking tough questions — in a manner that was neither confrontational nor alienating — was valued,” he said. “When Henry spoke people listened because they knew his perspectives were well-studied, insightful and would move discussions forward.

Amoroso taught at Vanderbilt before arriving at USM, where he helped to pioneer online courses and made lasting contributions to the core curriculum in the 1980s by creating the classes “Poverty in America” and “The Illuminated Autobiography,” both of which are still taught today.

The funeral service was held Friday at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Portland. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Portland.

Dan MacLeod contributed reporting.

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