VICTOR VARI | 1920–2014
The phrase means “note well” in Italian and Latin—a linguistic layup for generations of students whom Victor Vari taught in his 66 years at Santa Clara University. He was 94 years old when he died at home on Aug. 20. At his side was his wife of nearly 62 years, Julia Vari. A Mass of Christian Burial was held at the Mission Church on Sept. 2; scores of former students and colleagues were there to pay tribute.
Victor Vari was a 26-year-old graduate student when he was hired to teach French at Santa Clara. That was in 1946. San Francisco born, he moved at age 9 back to Italy, where his family stayed on through the financial reversals of the Depression, and returned to California in 1936. He taught elementary-school-age children of Italian immigrants, hosted a radio show in Berkeley, and graduated from San Francisco State University. In the Army, he served as a linguist and military intelligence agent in England and France during World War II before pursuing graduate studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. While earning a master’s in comparative literature from Stanford and a doctorate from the University of Madrid, he taught a full-time load of courses in Romance languages, married his wife, Julia, chaperoned dances, and served as Santa Clara’s fencing coach. He led European tours for students and alumni and founded international immersion programs in Florence and Assisi (that’s the cathedral in the illustration), as well as the Casa Italiana residence hall. He published scholarship on poetry and co-authored a four-volume work on the history and culture of Italy, for which he was named a Knight Commander by the Italian government. For 20 years he chaired the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, was named the Harold and Edythe Toso Professor, and he and his wife established the Dr. Victor and Julia Botto Vari Italian Studies Initiative.
Beginning in 1969, Vari led the commencement parade of professors in their academic robes as the longest-serving member of Santa Clara’s faculty. Those who teach for several decades sometimes have the pleasure of teaching the children of students they once had in class. Vari taught their grandchildren as well. While the Varis never had children of their own, Victor averred that his legions of students and alumni were his extended family.
Victor Vari was back on campus this May with his wife for the dedication of Victor B. and Julia Botto Vari Hall—where the College of Arts and Sciences makes its home. Along with decades of service and inspiration, the Varis have given $8 million to create an endowment for the arts and humanities to serve students for generations to come. Ron Hansen M.A. ’95
Engineering management and leadership
ROBERT JAMES PARDEN | 1922–2014
Robert James Parden was a man with a keen intellect, charming wit, and warm heart, and he played a transformative role as the dean of the School of Engineering beginning in 1955 and leading the school until 1982. He expanded and updated teaching curriculum and led efforts that brought the Sullivan Engineering Complex to the University. He created the nation’s first successful continuing education program for graduate engineering, established graduate programs that ushered Silicon Valley companies to the forefront of engineering management, and expanded the imprint of SCU throughout the high tech industry—both in terms of students and adjunct faculty, including Intel CEO Andy Grove and Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory President William Perry, later U.S. Secretary of Defense. Parden authored seminal research in engineering management and founded Parden Construction. In 1993 he was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame. He was born in Mason City, Iowa, and served in the Army before earning his doctorate in engineering from the University of Iowa. He was 92 years old when he died on July 20, at home, surrounded by family.
He is survived by Elizabeth Taylor Parden, his devoted and loving wife of 59 years, and four children: Pattie Bradley ’78 of San Jose, Jim Parden of Saratoga, Jack Parden ’83 of Redwood Shores, and Nancy Badgett ’85 of Saratoga. He leaves nine beloved grandchildren, who were all wild about their Bop. He is also survived by his sister, Dorothy Smith, of Iowa City, Iowa, brother-in-law Jack Taylor of Pebble Beach, along with many loved and accomplished nieces and nephews.
He taught many, inspired many more, and was admired and loved by all who knew him. A Catholic Mass of Resurrection was held at Sacred Heart Church in Saratoga on July 28. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Santa Clara University Dean’s Engineering Excellence Fund.
Leading with heart
ELIZABETH J. MORAN | 1918–2014
Elizabeth J. Moran was a teacher, role model, mentor, and friend to Santa Clara students, faculty, and staff. Born in Mississippi in 1918, she moved to California in 1959, where she raised four children, did substitute teaching, and taught reading in migrant camps while completing her master’s degree at San Jose State University.
When she began teaching English at Santa Clara in 1963, there were only two other women faculty members on campus. In 1967 she became the first woman to receive tenure in the College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Moran became known for her concern for students as well as her emphasis on excellence and social responsibility. In 1968, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. inspired her to teach SCU’s first African American literature course—to help transcend bigotry and violence by promoting greater understanding. After a Danforth fellowship in black studies in 1971, she began teaching African literature as well. “When you talk about Elizabeth, you’re talking about human tenacity, enduring strength, and caring,” our colleague Fred Parrella once said.
A natural leader, Betty Moran lived with kindness, integrity, and commitment to her ideals. When she saw something that needed to be done, she put her heart and soul into it. With her personal warmth, concern for others, and faith in possibility, she exercised leadership on many levels: from chairing SCU’s first affirmative action committee in the early 1970s and being the first woman to head the faculty senate to founding the Teaching and Learning Center. After ten years of work, she established Santa Clara’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 1977, becoming its charter president.
In 1989, when she retired from the Teaching and Learning Center and was awarded emerita status, then-President Paul Locatelli, S.J., ’60called her “the Second Lady of Santa Clara.” (St. Clare holds the No. 1 spot.) She continued teaching for five more years until retiring completely in 1994—when she was honored with resolutions from the California State Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Active in retirement, she helped establish the Georgia Travis Center, a resource center for homeless women and children in San Jose, and served as an elder in the Presbytery of San Jose. She once said that her motto was: “Get involved in something outside of yourself. Find some way to make a contribution to your community.” She lived that with heart.
Elizabeth Moran died on June 23 at age 95. A celebration of her life was held at Stone Church of Willow Glen on Oct. 4. Among her survivors are her four children: Raymond Moran, Linda Kelley ’76, Jocelyn Jackson ’72, and Marci Ahlansberg ’74; nine grandchildren, including Stephanie Helmbold ’92, Richard Hansen ’98, and Aleta Hansen ’01; four great-grandchildren; as well as the many friends and colleagues whose lives she touched and thousands of grateful students. She continued to hear from some of those students over the years—which, she said, “fills me with great delight.” Diane Dreher, professor of English
Find more obituaries at santaclaramagazine.com/obituaries. There, family members may also submit obituaries for publication. We publish news of the passing of Broncos as we learn of it.