The Vaughn College community acknowledges with sadness the death of alumnus and longtime Aviation Training Institute faculty member Dante Paliotta.
Mr. Paliotta died after a long illness on January 30. A wake was held January 31 followed by a church funeral on February 1.
Mr. Paliotta, a resident of Ozone Park, Queens, received his associate of occupational studies in airframe and powerplant techno logy from the Academy of Aeronautics in 1977. He also received an associate of applied science degree in aviation maintenance from the Academy.
Mr. Paliotta joined the Vaughn faculty in September 1978 and immediately impressed with his selfless attitude. Kitty Messer, administrative assistant for the Aviation Training Institute, remembered him as "probably the most helpful person you could ever meet."
Messer recalled fondly Mr. Paliotta's willingness to work after hours with students who needed extra attention. Often, those sessions stretched late into the evenings. "He was truly selfless," Messer recalled. "He would do whatever he could to help people. Sometimes he'd stay till 11 o'clock at night to help his students."
Mr. Paliotta, 82, retired in 2003 after 25 years on the Vaughn College faculty. He specialized in teaching aircraft maintenance operations.
Domenic Proscia, executive director of training at the Aviation Training Institute and a longtime colleague of Mr. Paliotta's, remembered him as a "definite conversationalist" who enjoyed the company of his students and colleagues.
"He knew a lot and he taught a lot of people a lot of things," Proscia said.
Mr. Paliotta's wife of 52 years, Catherine, noted his special relationship with Vaughn's students, many of whom appreciated his willingness to extend himself and remembered him years later.
"He always loved the students at Vaughn," Mrs. Paliotta said. "It seemed everywhere we went we'd come across someone and they'd say, ‘Mr. Paliotta, remember me?' "
Mr. Paliotta enrolled at Vaughn after losing his job at Chrysler Corp. during the height of the 1970s oil crisis, his wife said. Ironically, he saw the layoff as an opportunity to enhance his education and transition into a new industry—education.
After several years of teaching at Vaughn, he told his wife he would never work in the corporate sector again. "They are heartless," his wife remembered him saying.
Mr. Paliotta loved to travel, particularly throughout the United States and Canada. His wife said he loved nature, was a master auto mechanic and had an uncanny ability to manage any household crisis.
"I never had to call a repairman in my life," Mrs. Paliotta said.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter Lisa and granddaughter Sarah Rose. The family is planning a celebration of his life later in the year.
Dante Paliotta taught at Vaughn College for 25 years.