Peter Francis Merenda

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Peter Francis Merenda of Warwick, RI. He was a remarkable man who lived a truly extraordinary life, impacting people far and wide, across continents. Born in Everett, MA the firstborn son of Sicilian immigrant parents in 1922, he was raised by an extended family of his adoring Sicilian mother, grandmother and aunts.

After completing a special college preparatory program, he received his B.S. and Master’s Degrees in physics and mathematics from Tufts University, then quickly moved into an advanced studies program at Harvard. Along the way, he married the love of his life, Rosie Cafasso, whom he had met in grade school when they were both eleven, and began to start his family. While at Tufts he also participated in the Navy ROTC program, eventually becoming an ensign and serving the US Navy during World War II. Both his brilliance and his lovable personality showed through every facet of his life. After the war, he moved with his family to Norfolk, VA, and then to Kenosha, WI, working as Director of Research at the Naval Examining Center and earning his Ph.D from University of Wisconsin Madison. In 1957, he began working for Walter V. Clark Associates in Rhode Island and moved there with his family.

Peter became professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island where he co-founded the Departments of Psychology and Computer Science/Statistics. During his tenure in academia he was one of the original members of the American Psychological Association and was granted the prestigious Samuel J. Messick Award. Over the years he developed close relationships with scholars across the globe, regularly traveling between the US, Europe and Asia. He also remained a proud member of the US Navy, eventually making Captain (a fact of which he was especially proud). In addition to his exceptional career in academia, research, and military, he was a loyal friend and dedicated father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He truly enjoyed hosting friends, colleagues, and family at his home, cooking impressive meals, attending wine club meetings, reading WWII history, and taking trips up to Gloucester, MA.

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