Dr. Armand I. Patrucco
By Joan DuBois   
June 17, 2009
Dr. Armand I. Patrucco, (1933-2009) pioneered chess scholarships at Rhode Island College, dies at 75
MACA has received the sad news of the passing of Dr. Armand I. Patrucco of Providence, Rhode Island, who died at home Wednesday, June 3. He was 75. Dr. Patrucco was a professor emeritus of history at Rhode Island College, where he taught for 35 years before retiring in 1997.

As advisor to the college's chess club for at least 20 years, "Doc" Patrucco transformed Rhode Island College into a national collegiate chess power. He revived the college's chess club in 1971 and built a college team that was ranked several times in the top 10 nationally. RIC won the  Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Team Championship in 1985. Under his leadership, the college became the first school in the country to award chess scholarships.

He was born November 11, 1933 in New York City, the son of Peter and Cristina (Sassone) Patrucco. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Queens College and a master's degree from Columbia University, where he also earned his doctorate in Modern European History.. He was considered one of the country's leading authorities on Italian politics and wrote many scholarly articles for professional journalis.  A book by him, "The Politics of the Italian Parliamentary System, 1860-1915," published in 1992 by Garland Publishing Inc., makes the case that attacks on the pre-World War I Italian parliamentary system prepared the way for the rise of fascism. The book was a revision of his 1969 doctoral dissertation at Columbia.

Doc Patrucco was named faculty member of the year in 1984 at RIC. He was a former treasurer of the New England Historical Society, former chairman of the Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council, and a member of the American Historical Society and the Italian Historical Studies. He is on the list of MACA's Living Memorial Chess Fund honored individuals.

He leaves a sister, Vilma Patrucco, with whom he lived; and an aunt, Letizia Boiardo Sassone, and many cousins in Italy. His funeral was held Friday, June 5, in St. Thomas Church in Providence. Burial was private. Donations in his memory may be made either to the Rhode Island College Foundation, 408 Roberts Hall, Providence, RI 02908-1991, or to MACA's Living Memorial Chess Fund, c/o Robert Messenger, Treasurer, 4 Hamlett Drive #12, Nashua, NH 03062-4641.
Obituary above submitted by George Mirijanian, Publications Coordinator for Massachusetts Chess Association.

The obituary below was submitted by friend, Joshua M. Anderson:

Father of Collegiate Chess Scholarships Passes Away: Dr. Armand Patrucco – 1933 to 2009

Some chess players are known for their tactics, others for their writings, and still others for finding a way to benefit chess players.  It is in this final category that Dr. Armand “Doc” Patrucco excelled.

Dr. Patrucco learned the game of chess while growing up in New York City in the 1930s and 1940s.  The 1950s were spent mostly pursuing a degree from Queen’s Collage, a doctorate in Modern European history and a certificate in East Asian Studies from Columbia.  In 1962, Doc started teaching at Rhode Island College and in 1971, he revived the Rhode Island College Chess Club and became faculty advisor.  In spite of being a highly respected teacher and on the board of numerous organizations for historians and the specially challenged, he would continue holding this time consuming post for the next two decades.

With the Fischer boom of the early 1970s, chess players were plentiful and many clubs began to compete in the Pan-American Collegiate Championships.  As the Fischer boom died away, so did the number of collegiate players at many schools.  Realizing that there were many good students who played chess, Dr. Patrucco convinced Rhode Island College to start offering chess scholarships in 1978.  This helped the college attract many fine young minds who were interested in a variety of fields and happen to enjoy chess.

Over the first few years, these scholarships brought Rhode Island College, and collegiate level chess, a great deal of attention; even The Sporting News interviewed Doc.  For some years, Rhode Island College was the only school giving away scholarship monies in this manner.  Unlike many present programs, more than 15 colleges now offer chess scholarships, Doc focused not just on the player’s rating, but his willingness to contribute to the club.  Thus, such divergent players as Sharon Burtman, 1995 U.S. Women’s Champion, Mikhail Braude, a 2500+ rated player, some of the 1985 Pan Am Intercollegiate Championship team, and myself, a class B player, were aided by these monies.

More important than creating a way for some of us who loved chess to get an education, he taught us far more.  Unspoken actions, such as giving back to the chess community through donations to the Living Memorial Chess Foundation showed his generous spirit.  Many players in the club were far stronger than Doc, but still sought his wisdom and guidance on a wide variety of issues, benefitting from his vast array of experiences.  This author, for instance, had difficulty in adjusting to being six hours from home his first semester, and came to cherish time between classes where we could sit in his office, play, and talk about everything.  It was nice to sit there those many hours and learn a little about chess, it was even better to sit there and learn a lot about life.

If I may, for just a moment, speak for all chess players who benefitted from your actions, “Thank you, so very much!”

Dr. Armand I. Patrucco - May you rest in peace.