A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, April 16 at 10 a.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Hattiesburg for Dr. Lawrence Bellipanni, a retired associate professor of science education and biological sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi, who died Tuesday, April 13 at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. He was 72.
Burial will be at 2 p.m. Friday at St. Paul Cemetery in Pass Christian. A rosary will be said at 5:30 p.m. today, April 15 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, followed by visitation from 6-8 p.m. Moore Funeral Home in Hattiesburg is in charge of arrangements.
He is survived by his wife, Rosemary Bentz Bellipanni; sons Larry Bellipanni, Jr. and his wife Monica and their children Nina and Drew of Hattiesburg; son, Tim Bellipanni and his wife Beth and their children Timothy, Cooper and Russell of Gulfport; a daughter, Dr. Kimberly Bellipanni of Hattiesburg; a brother, J. W. Bellipanni of Mandeville, La.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
An alumnus of Southern Miss, Bellipanni joined its faculty in 1970 and retired from the university in 2003. He was also affiliated with its Center for Science and Mathematics Education. He was an active member of the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association and an avid supporter of Golden Eagle athletics. He received various service and leadership awards from the alumni association, and in 1994 was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame.
Prior to his service on the Southern Miss faculty, he worked as a science teacher and coach for more than a decade at high schools in Mississippi and Louisiana. He was a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and the Hattiesburg Lions Club, for which he served as an officer at the local and district levels.
“We are deeply saddened with the passing of Dr. Lawrence Bellipanni,” said Dr. Joe Whitehead, dean of the Southern Miss College of Science and Technology. “Larry had a profound impact on science education in Mississippi with his more than 30 years of service as a science educator at Southern Miss.”
Bellipanni served as director of the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair for 42 years and as a science fair judge at the international level for 15 years. In 1993 he played a key role in bringing the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He served on the Intel ISEF Advisory Council, most recently as its secretary, and remained active assisting with science fairs at all levels following his retirement from the university.
“His ardent leadership of the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair stimulated many young lives to experience the fun and excitement of science and to enter scientific careers,” Whitehead said.
Southern Miss Department of Biological Sciences Chair Dr. Frank Moore agrees, saying Bellipanni’s greatest legacy will be his ability to make science interesting and fun for students at all age levels through his teaching and work with science fair programming.
“You could meet Larry on the street and he would talk about science fairs, whether it was at the local, state, national or international levels,” Moore said. “He was really passionate about it and put a lot of time and effort into it, which paid off for a lot of young people.”
Bellipanni published a number of articles in scholastic publications, served as a consultant and advisor on many science-related projects and worked extensively with student teachers at the elementary and secondary levels. He served as an officer and member of multiple science associations, including as board member of the National Science Teachers Association.
He was the recipient of the numerous awards during his career. In 1994, he received the Faculty Excellence Award for University Service and in 1986 received the Professional Service Award. He was named Outstanding Biology Teacher for the State of Mississippi and a Mississippi Economic Council Star Teacher for two years, and received the Mississippi Science Teachers Association Distinction in Science Education Award; the Outstanding College Science Teaching Award; and the Mississippi Academy of Sciences Outstanding Contribution to Science Award.
“The depth, kindness, and generosity of Dr. Bellipanni’s soul was matched by his extraordinary zeal and passion for science education made manifest through the science and engineering fair,” said Dr. Sherry Herron, director of the Southern Miss Center for Science and Mathematics Education. “He touched the lives of tens of thousands of people during his career; many of whom are continuing to pass on his legacy to the next generation.
"We will never be able to fill his shoes, but are determined to keep his legacy alive for the benefit of Mississippi’s youth.”
Bellipanni was a Lions Club International Melvin Jones Fellow and received the Lions Club's Edward Dalstrom Distinguished Service Award. He played an integral role in obtaining grants from Lions Club International for building expansion of the DuBard School for Language Disorders and served on the advisory board for the Children’s Center for Communication and Development, both located on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to The Lawrence Bellipanni Science Fair Scholarship Endowment at the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, the Hattiesburg Lions Club or any charity of the donor's choice.
Dr. Lawrence Bellipanni
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.