Unexpected Gift

Appreciative alumnus Frank Pellicone, with his wife Helen, surprised Syracuse University with a sizeable bequest, now supporting historical research in Maxwell.

Francesco “Frank” Lawrence Pellicone, son of Italian immigrants, attended Syracuse University in the late 1920s. He ran track and cross country, joined the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity and the pre-law society, and managed the boxing team. He graduated in 1930 with a bachelor’s degree in history, one of three siblings to attend Syracuse. The others, Rocco and Dominick, became teachers.

Frank then worked as a lawyer in Elizabeth and Harrison, New Jersey; during World War II, he ran an employment agency; and In the late 1950s he was a real estate salesman. He died in 1999; his wife Helen passed away in 2014.

When Helen died, the University learned that the couple had left an unrestricted $250,000 bequest to Maxwell, now designated as the Frank and Helen Pellicone Faculty Scholar Program, supporting faculty research in History.  

Because Frank Pellicone had majored in history and obviously retained an appreciation for that education, it was an easy decision to direct the bequest to History, says Linda Birnbaum, Maxwell’s assistant dean for development. “When we receive a bequest or other planned gift that we hadn’t expected,” she says, “it’s a reminder that Maxwell educations touch lives, sometimes in quietly profound ways we don’t see,” she says. “It’s heart-warming, really, that Frank and Helen Pellicone cared enough about Maxwell to remember us in their estate.”

When invested, the Pellicone bequest will bear modest research awards, but that fills an important need, says Michael Ebner, associate professor and History Department chair. “Just a few hundred, or a few thousand, dollars goes a long way for historians,” he says. “Two or three thousand dollars can fund many weeks, or even months, in the archives.”

Ebner appreciates the Pellicones’ gift. “This is a lot of money for us,” he says. “In historical research, we get a lot of bang for the buck, so a few hundred dollars makes a difference.”