In memoriam

Pioneering Professor Helen Vassallo

Helen Guillette Vassallo, former professor of management and the second woman to be named full professor at WPI, passed away on June 9 at the age of 91. She served as head of the Management Department from 1989 to 1995, was the longtime chief justice of the Campus Hearing Board, and received the Trustees Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2003. She was recognized as National Sorority Advisor of the Year in 2005, belonged to the President’s Council for the Advancement of Women and Minorities, and received the Woman of Consequence Award from the City of Worcester in 2008. In 2013, she was honored with the Goat’s Head Lifetime Commitment Award from the WPI Alumni Association. She was also the first woman to be elected secretary of the faculty, the highest faculty post, in 2009.

She raised 10 children, three of whom are WPI alumni; she authored numerous articles, two books, and one monograph; and she held two patents. Along with her impact on the university, she also touched many people who crossed her path.

Vassallo joined WPI’s management and biology and biotechnology departments in 1982 after a distinguished career as an educator, researcher, and business leader in the fields of physiology, pharmacology, and anesthesia. She received a BS from Tufts University and an MS in pharmacology from Tufts University Medical School and then taught at Tufts, Brandeis University, Clark University, and WPI before joining Astra Pharmaceutical Products, where she would ultimately become director of scientific and professional information. While at Astra, she completed a PhD in physiology at Clark and an MBA at WPI, and was a visiting fellow and special student at MIT’s Sloan Institute, where she studied organizational behavior. She was a member of the Skull Class of 1987.

Well-known for her energy and creativity as well as for her thoughtfulness and compassion, she loved to travel. She looked back at her time spent working with students at WPI project centers––San Francisco and Denmark––as among her most cherished university memories because she witnessed students adapt and grow in new places.

Adapted from a story written by Lauren Borsa-Curran upon Vassallo’s retirement in 2019.

Joseph Sage, Longtime Civil Engineering Professor and Artist

Joseph D. Sage, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, who taught geotechnical engineering at WPI for nearly four decades, passed away on May 15, 2023. He was 91.

Sage received BS and MS degrees in civil engineering from Rutgers University before joining the WPI faculty in 1957. He later earned a PhD in geology at Clark University. With research and teaching interests in the structure and stability of soils (he was known internationally for his work in such areas as rock mechanics, the shear strength of soils, and the effects of frost on soil mechanics), he was instrumental in establishing WPI’s master’s and PhD programs in geotechnical engineering.

Sage was active as an artist throughout his career. His later work merged his interest in art and engineering by incorporating materials like glass, dental material, bone, and ancient rocks into expansive paintings and sculptures. In 2002 he published a book, MetaForms and MetaNudes etcetera (Sagama Publishing), to explain his unique ideas and processes.

He is survived by seven children, 11 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, a sister, and a brother. He was predeceased by his wife of 64 years, Pauline, and an infant daughter.

Armand Silva, Ocean Engineer and Former Department Chair

Armand Joseph Silva, professor in the Department of Civil Engineering from 1954 to 1976 (including serving as chair starting in 1971), passed away on April 1, 2023, at age 91. A renowned ocean engineer, researcher, and professor, Silva held many interests, was devoted to family and friends, and led a vibrant, adventuresome, engaged, and fulfilled life. He enjoyed a long, successful career in civil and ocean engineering, contributing significantly to the fields during a period of emerging geologic theories, such as plate tectonics.

At both WPI and University of Rhode Island, where he held the title of professor emeritus, Silva was advisor to more than 40 graduate students. In his oceanographic research expeditions, he collaborated with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Sandia National Laboratories, Scripps Oceanographic Institute, Office of Naval Research, and National Science Foundation.

Robert Zalosh, Fire Protection Engineering Professor and Authority on Explosion Risks

Robert Zalosh, professor emeritus of fire protection engineering and a widely recognized authority on explosions, died on June 29, 2023. He was 78.

Zalosh received three degrees in mechanical engineering—a bachelor of engineering from the Cooper Union, an MS from the University of Rochester, and a PhD from Northeastern University. Early in his career, he joined Factory Mutual Research Corporation (now FM Global), where he began his explosion research in earnest. Over the next 15 years, he rose to become assistant vice president and manager of the Applied Research Department.

While at Factory Mutual, Zalosh began teaching in WPI’s Fire Protection Engineering program, becoming a full-time professor in 1990 and retiring in 2006. In an addition to his teaching and research, he founded a consulting practice, Firexplo, through which he performed explosion hazard and risk assessments for industrial facilities, conducted numerous investigations of coal dust, natural gas, hydrogen, and other kinds of explosions, and served often as an expert witness.

He frequently provided pro bono consulting to the fire departments in Boston and New York City. In 2016, the Boston Fire Department presented him with the Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Civilian Service. A fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), he served as a member of the fire council of Underwriters Laboratories and the AIChE’s Hydrogen Safety Panel.

He wrote two textbooks, Industrial Fire Protection Engineering (2003, Wiley) and Explosion Dynamics: Foundations and Practical Applications (2023, Wiley, with WPI professor Ali Rangwala), and co-authored the Center for Chemical Process Safety’s Guidelines for Safe Handling of Powders and Bulk Solids.

He is survived by Gloria, his wife of 57 years, sons Michael and Matthew, four grandchildren, a sister, and five nieces and nephews.

Donald Girard ’46 ME, PHI KAPPA THETA, San Juan, P.R.

Delbert Walton ’46 EE, Port Charlotte, Fla.

George Johnson ’48 ME, SIGMA ALPHA EPISLON, Brevard, N.C.

Donald Fitzgerald ’49 CHE, PHI GAMMA DELTA, Estero, Fla.

Howard Tinkham ’49 ME, THETA CHI, Mattapoisett, Mass.

Paul O’Neil ’52 CHE, PHI KAPPA THETA, Glen Mills, Pa.

Harold Lake ’54 ME, ALPHA EPISLON PI, Newton, Mass.

Marshall Levine ’55 ME, ALPHA EPISLON PI, Wayne, Pa.

Richard Basil ’56 ME, PHI GAMMA DELTA, Chatsworth, Calif.

David Gilda ’56 ME, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Macungie, Pa.

Frederick Lindsey ’56 CHE, PHI KAPPA THETA, East Haven, Conn.

Douglas Bryant ’60 CHE PhD ME, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Delray Beach, Fla.

Leonard Marcotte ’60 ME, Orrs Island, Maine

Joseph Calzone ’61 EE, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Marco Island, Fla.

Richard O’Shea ’61 PH, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Holliston, Mass.

Hubert, Cole ’62 ME, THETA CHI, Bel Air, Md.

David Bova ’63 CE, TAU KAPPA EPSILON, Stoughton, Mass.

Thomas Donegan ’63 EE, PHI GAMMA DELTA, Woodbury, Conn.

James McKenzie ’63 ME, Bellevue, Wash.

Thomas Owens ’63 ME, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Auburn, Mass.

Sterling McFee ’64 ME, Perrysburg, Ohio

Edward Johnson ’66 EE, Middleburgh, N.Y.

Arthur Amend ’67 MS PH, Brookfield, Conn.

John Downes ’67 ME, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Oscoda, Mich.

Wayne Garth ’67 EE, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Penn Valley, Calif.

James Manning ’67 ME, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Cornville, Ariz.

Robert Davee ’69 SIM

Robert Ahern ’71 CE, ALPHA CHI RHO, Avon, Conn.

Patrick Romano ’71 CHE, Sturbridge, Mass.

Frederick Paris ’73 ME, PHI KAPPA THETA, Wilbraham, Mass.

John Downes ’78 CHE, APLHA CHI RHO, North Scituate, Mass.

John Richie ’78 LS, West Boylston, Mass.

Joseph Zecco ’80 SIM, Shrewsbury, Mass.

H. Abladian ’85 MS MG, Westborough, Mass.

Scott Reed ’88 MA, West Wareham, Mass.

Tam Huynh ’93 ME, Penllyn, Pa.

Kevin Medeiros ’05 EE, Warwick, R.I.

Michael Perruccio ’14 MIS, MS MIS, ZETA PSI, Pelham, N.H.

The WPI community also notes the passing of these friends of the university: Justin Corttis, Stephen Hemming, and Morris Tanenbaum.

Complete obituaries can usually be found online by searching or newspaper websites. The Alumni Office will assist classmates in locating additional information. Contact

Click on this switch to toggle between day and night modes.