The Passing of Tony Bellotti

6 March, 2013 by (comments)

It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of Dr. Anthony Bellotti at his retirement home in Naples, Florida, after a battle with cancer that lasted several months. Tony was a dear friend and a scientist of the highest caliber, who dedicated his entire working life to the pursuit of development impact through agricultural research.

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His long journey of commitment began in 1962, when he joined the first group of Peace Corps volunteers in El Salvador. For 2 years, he supervised projects dealing with the production of vegetables, tropical fruits, and small livestock. After earning an MSc at New Mexico State University, Tony returned to the Peace Corps in 1967, serving first as an assistant director in Paraguay and then as a training officer in California until 1970.

Like so many Peace Corps volunteers, Tony realized that to make lasting contributions he needed more knowledge. So, he embarked on doctoral studies in the Department of Entomology with a minor in Plant Breeding at Cornell University. After completing his PhD, Tony joined CIAT in Cali, Colombia, initially as a Rockefeller Foundation post-doc. He developed an extraordinarily productive career as Cassava Program entomologist, including an 18-month sabbatical at Embrapa, Cruz das Almas, Brazil – and also served at times as acting program leader. His work resulted in more than 300 scientific publications. After his retirement in 2006, Tony was awarded emeritus status but continued contributing generously to mentoring and occasional consultancies.

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Tony leaves a legacy of enormous professional accomplishments. Through research teams formed with skill and care, he advanced the knowledge of cassava entomology from its infancy to maturity, opening the way for major contributions to improved livelihoods for cassava farmers. Tony’s single greatest scientific achievement involved his role in the introduction of a parasitic wasp from Paraguay to sub-Saharan Africa for biological control of the devastating cassava mealybug. The documented economic benefits of this work are valued in the billions of dollars.

Tony leaves a huge void in CIAT and around the world, having formed friendships and professional relationships through an international career that spanned more than half a century, including 40 years at CIAT. Tony led a rich life outside of work too – as an avid reader, New York Yankees fan, and congenial, supportive companion to a very large circle of friends in Cali.

More details about Tony’s life and work are available on a special page of CIAT’s website, where friends and colleagues can share their thoughts, memories, and photos. Please join us in honoring this true hero of science and incomparable friend to so many.

The family announces that Tony will have a mass on March 21, 2013 at the Church of Saint Clare, 110 Nelson, Ave., Staten Island, NY. His remains will be buried with his Mom and Dad at the Resurrection Cemetery, Staten Island. The family suggests donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Light the Night,  61 Broadway, Suite 400, New York, NY  10006, in memory of Anthony Bellotti.

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We will miss you Tony!

Ruben

Director General

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