Thomas Lombardi

Obituary of Thomas Philip Lombardi

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Thomas P. Lombardi left this world on June 12, 2023 at home with his family by his side. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut to Phyllis and Louis Lombardi in 1936. He was a child dancing prodigy, first appearing on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour Television Show at age 6. He advanced to professional status appearing in night clubs and variety shows with such stars as Louis Prima and Gene Krupa. His love for dancing followed him throughout his life. After graduating from West Haven High school, he earned a special education teaching degree from Southern Connecticut State College (SCSC). He taught at Southbury Training School for several years. During those summers, he directed camps at Harkness Memorial Park in New London. With the aid of scholarships and federal grants he earned a Master's Degree from Springfield College and later a Doctorate from the University of Arizona where he served as an Assistant Professor. In 1971, Dr. Lombardi joined the Special Education Department at West Virginia University, continuing there until his retirement in 2010. Upon retirement he activated his dancing skills, became certified and taught Zumba and Silver Sneakers in Morgantown, West Virginia and Cocoa Beach, Florida. At WVU, he developed the specific learning disabilities teacher certification program as well as the West Virginia state certification requirements. Recognized by his College as an outstanding teacher three times, he also was a finalist for the State's Professor of the Year Award. He wrote and directed the U. S. Office of Education's Dean's Grant that was designed to accommodate students with special needs in regular classrooms. His knowledge, experiences and research in individualized education kept him in demand from schools, colleges, associations, and conferences throughout his career. This was not only in West Virginia but throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries. In 1999, he received a Fulbright Award to assist Lusofona University in Lisbon, Portugal develop a special education teacher program. He was also an ongoing consultant to the Education Department in Bermuda. Research was always important to him. His philosophy was "anything worth doing needs to be validated, replicated and shared". With over 80 publications, he collaborated on many writings with his wife, Estelle, colleagues, and students. His fastbacks published by Phi Delta Kappa became the foundation for many of his workshops. He coined the term, "responsible inclusion" that is often quoted in other publications. Professor Lombardi was recognized and active in a number of professional and social organizations. These included serving as President of SCSC Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Chapter, Vice President of SCSC Kappa Delta Phi Fraternity, member of the Knights of Columbus, National Vice President of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly the AAMD), Board of Governors for CEC, Regional Representative for the International Phi Delta Kappa (PDK), President of the Beau Monde Dance Club, Member of the Year for WV CEC, Member of the Year for Cocoa Beach's Old Bastard's Club, member of the Irvin Stewart Society and parishioner at St. Mary's Church. In 2014, he was inducted into the WU College of Education and Human Services Hall of Fame. Dr. Lombardi is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Dr. Estelle Lombardi (Gardella); two married daughters, Dr. Marie Loth (husband Dr. Eric), Linda DeCosta (husband Edward); Grandchildren, David DeCosta (wife Emily), Brian DeCosta, Dr. Laura DeCosta, Rachel Loth Kohl (husband Sohrab), and Brent Loth; Great Grandsons, Vincent and Nathan DeCosta. In addition, he leaves many relatives and friends who were valuable parts of his life, especially his caregiver, Lisa Johnson and the caring staff at WVU Medicine Hospice. In keeping with his wishes, cremation arrangements have been provided. Family will receive friends at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church, 3346 University Ave., Morgantown, on Saturday, July 1st at 11:00 AM for a memorial mass with Father John McDonough as celebrant. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the WVU Foundation at One Waterfront Place – 7th Floor, PO Box 1650 Morgantown, WV 26507-1650 or online at with the designation for the Dr. Thomas P. Lombardi Special Education Scholarship (3Z412) or The Lombardi Family Special Education Endowment (3V1002) Hastings Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements and online condolences may be made to the family at
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Memorial Mass

11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Saturday, July 1, 2023
St. Mary Roman Catholic Church
3346 University Ave
Morgantown, West Virginia, United States
Celebrant; Father John McDonough
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Thomas Lombardi

In Loving Memory

Thomas Lombardi

1936 - 2023

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