Aldo G. Tassi, 67, Loyola College philosophy professor

January 14, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Aldo G. Tassi, a Loyola College philosophy professor, died Wednesday of esophageal cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 67 and lived in Towson.

A Loyola philosophy teacher since 1972, he wrote numerous scholarly articles and a book on the political philosophy of the American Revolution.

"He was an impressive teacher - incredibly dynamic," said John M. Rose, a former student who is chairman of Goucher College's philosophy and religion department. "He would walk in with just one book in his hand and lecture without a note. Maybe he'd take a slip of paper out of his wallet, but that would be all."

Dr. Rose described his former teacher as popular with students because he was personable and welcoming, yet rigorous and challenging in his questions and requests.

"He once turned a paper back to me and said, `John, write it again, and put more joy into it,'" Dr. Rose recalled.

Dr. Tassi taught Greek, medieval, Renaissance, modern British, French, German, American and analytic philosophy.

"He had that breadth of interest and competency that is somewhat atypical in the world of academic specialization," said Tim Stapleton, associate professor of philosophy at Loyola who lives in Baltimore.

Dr. Tassi also wrote several plays, including "Perchance to Dream," a 1984 drama that weighed the topics of death and immortality. It was performed at the Vagabond Players in Fells Point. He also wrote "The Hills," a 1990s play about the nature of political revolution, produced in New York City and Buffalo, N.Y.

"People think, `Gee, if we could only live forever, wouldn't it be great.' If that happened, we would have to reinvent evil to keep a balance," he said in a 1984 interview with The Evening Sun.

When asked about his choice of subject matter, he replied, "Art has many purposes. The purpose of a playwright is to change the way we see things. That is what I want to do: to change the way people think about death."

"I think Al showed a lot of intellectual courage to write a play, to take risks that followed his passions," said Dr. Stapleton, his colleague at Loyola. "If you ever wanted to know what the term `intellectual passion' meant, just talk to Al for five minutes."

Dr. Tassi also taught and wrote scholarly articles on the relationship between philosophy and theater.

Born in New York City, he received a bachelor's degree from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 1955. He received his master's degree in philosophy from Marquette University in Milwaukee and his doctorate from Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1970. He also studied at the University of Chicago and the New School for Social Research in New York.

He was a Fulbright Scholar and studied in Genoa, Italy, from 1961 to 1963. He then taught at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and at Fordham University.

His articles appeared in the International Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy Today, The New Scholasticism and the Review of Metaphysics.

In 1960, he married the former Nina Carey, who developed the creative writing program at Morgan State University, where she teaches. She survives him.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday at Loyola College.

He is also survived by a son, Anthony C. Tassi of New York City; two daughters, Marguerite A. Tassi of Kearney, Neb., and Katherine M. Tassi of Seattle; his mother, Mary Tassi of Palisades Park, N.J; and a sister, Laura Cassera of Denville, N.J.

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