The late Raymond E. Bigliani, a longtime physics professor at Farmingdale State College and former Grumman Aerospace Corp. engineer who worked on the Apollo Lunar Module, will be honored on campus April 16.
The memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. in the Little Theater of Roosevelt Hall.
Bigliani died on Jan. 21 after being diagnosed a month earlier with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow, his family said. He was 70.
Bigliani began teaching students at Farmingdale State in 1970 as an instructor and was promoted to full professor in 1994. He taught a full course load in the fall 2012 semester and had even taught a couple of classes only weeks before his death. As a vital member of the physics department, his passing came as a shock to the campus community, college officials said.
A dedicated amateur astronomer, Bigliani shared his love of space exploration with his students, family and community.
He hosted astronomy events on campus and, his family said, spent hours staring at the sky with his children and grandchildren in the backyard of their Farmingdale home.
He also helped set up computer facilities at the Vanderbilt Planetarium in Centerport.
"It was the unknown and just trying to understand the universe that was his passion," said Bigliani's wife of 43 years, Pat, who is a former Farmingdale College mathematics professor.
Family and friends described Bigliani as a quick wit who could insert one statement into a conversation that had everyone in the room instantly laughing.
"He was a very down-to-earth guy for someone who was so into space," said Peter Nolan, a Farmingdale State College physics professor who met Bigliani when they both worked at Grumman. They built a computer program to test parts for what then was called the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM, the Apollo spacecraft section used to land men on the moon between 1969 and 1972.
Bigliani was co-director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Technology at Farmingdale. He also served as a member of the International Education Committee, and taught a three-week summer class to Farmingdale students in Italy.
He was the son of Ugo Bigliani and Louise Brondolo Bigliani. His father was an Italian immigrant who worked as a waiter at the now-closed Greenwich Village restaurant Asti, where the staff sang opera.
He was born and raised in Astoria and graduated from Stuyvesant High School. He held a bachelor's degree in physics from Manhattan College, a master's in physics from New York University and did graduate course work at Stony Brook University and Adelphi University. He authored or co-authored several textbooks, one of which is still in use.
His daughter, Kristi Chase of Delaware, said her father's legacy will live on through his grandchildren, to whom he passed on his interest in science and the cosmos. "He's a star shining down on us," said Chase, quoting her 4-year-old son.
In addition to his wife and daughter Kristi, he is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Kelly Bigliani of St. James; daughter, Patti Bigliani of Farmingdale; son-in-law, Devon Chase of Delaware; a sister, Rita Visentin of Riverhead, and five grandchildren.