Jan. 23, 2003
Providence, Rhode Island -
David Zucconi, an icon on the Brown University campus for more than 50 years, and one of Brown Athletic's greatest supporters, passed away on January 22nd at Miriam Hospital after a long and valiant fight with cancer. He was 69-years old.
Brown University will be holding a remembrance service "Celebrating the Life of Dave Zucconi '55" on Saturday, February 22nd at 2:00 pm in Salomon Hall (College Green) with an open reception immediately following in Sayles Hall.
Zucconi will best be remembered for his fundraising efforts on behalf of the Brown athletic department, serving as the executive director of the Brown University Sports Foundation, from 1985 to 1999. He embraced all sports with equal enthusiasm and will forever be known as Brown's good will ambassador.
Dave's 50-year association with Brown has been an adventure - for Dave, because everything he does is done with his whole heart and imagination and energy, and for Brown, because that much intensity makes waves.
When Dave Zucconi graduated from Brown with a degree in Economics in 1955, most Brown students were still wearing jackets and ties to their classes. When he joined the University's staff four years later, campus fashions, attitudes and ideas were in a state of flux. Dave arrived on the threshold of the '60s and added his own special brand of tornado to the winds of change.
Born in the Bronx, Dave was educated at Blessed Sacrament School and later at Cardinal Hayes High School. Brown recruited Dave as a football player, and he left New York City for the first time ever for Opening Convocation in 1951. Dave arrived ready to excel in the classroom and on the playing field. He made the Dean's List twice, and, graduating among the top 20 all-around students, was a Marshall of the senior class at Commencement. By that time, he had distinguished himself not only on the gridiron, but also as a speedy center fielder in baseball, and on the track team.
After his college football career as a two-way halfback, Dave was invited to try out for the Boston Patriots and New York Giants. He had similar invitations in baseball, from the Yankees and the Dodgers. However, Dave already had another obligation, to the U. S. Air Force. Stationed in England as a financial administrator, Dave earned the Most Valuable Player award on his base football team and played rugby with an all-English side. He went on to work with Chubb and Son in New York City and to teach at the Taft School in Connecticut before returning to Brown.
He joined the university's admission's staff in 1959, and traveled the country introducing students and parents to all Brown had to offer. He set a record for time on the road - nine straight weeks! During his tenure in admissions, Zucconi developed the National Alumni Schools Program, which won three national awards.
Still passionate about sports, Dave made time to champion a new one at Brown: he founded the University's rugby team in 1960.
In 1969, Dave answered Brown's summons to move into Alumni Relations, and in 1980, Dave's presence was requested in the Development Office, where his skills and knowledge of Brown's national and international constituencies were needed as the University entered another major fundraising campaign. As Director of Major Gifts, Dave greatly expanded the National Screening Program and paved the way for the Campaign for Brown in 24 major cities.
Destiny brought Dave and the Brown Sports Foundation (BUSF) together in 1985. During his 15-year tenure as its Director, Dave oversaw the Foundation's development into a multi-purpose vehicle for fundraising - greatly increasing sports endowments and annual gifts, and expanding the number of committed donors from 350 to 4,000 - as well as for keeping Brown close to alumni/ae and friends around the country and the world. With the Foundation's steady and focused support, Brown's athletics program soared into the nation's top 20, and its endowments grew to $50 million. No less important was the spirit of camaraderie and engagement the BUSF generated with its pre- and post-game tailgates and tent events at athletic contests everywhere.
Following his tenure with the Sports Foundation, Zucconi moved into a role as Brown's Senior Development Officer in capital and principal gifts fundraising, where he continued to set new standards for fundraising.
A longtime Providence residedent, Zucconi was a member of the Providence Preservation Society, and a mayoral appointee to the Providence Heritage Commission. He was a Director of the Brown Club of Rhode Island and the Brown Football Association. In 1978, he was inducted into the Brown Athletics Hall of Fame. Two scholarships are endowed in his name, including one modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship, commemorating his contributions to Brown and his friendship to generations of Brown students. In October, 2002, he received the prestigious Independent Man Award from the Brown Club of New York City.
To thousands of people around the world, Dave Zucconi will forever be known as Brown's most approachable, most convivial, most responsive, and most ubiquitous ambassador.
Dave is survived by his beloved wife, Nancy Hopkins Zucconi, a brother, Mario, and a sister, Louise.
Contributions in memory of Dave Zucconi may be made to the Brown University Sports Foundation (Box 1925) or Brown University (Box 1893), Providence, RI 02912.