Deceased February 1, 1991
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Jeffery DePasqua died of cancer on February 1, 1991. He was 47.
Jeff earned a degree in architecture from UC Berkeley in 1968, then settled in New Orleans after working there as a VISTA volunteer. He did city planning and neighborhood renovations for a variety of public agencies before opening his own consulting firm, Metamorphosis, Inc., in 1975. His company was primarily involved with the rehabilitation and restoration of historic properties. In recent years, he also operated a bed and breakfast, which he called the “Creole Home and Guest Cottage.”
We who were Jeff’s friends at Amherst remembered his irreverent, sometimes caustic wit. He may have worn the mask of a cynic, but at heart, he was a meliorist—believing (with an earnestness that might have surprised those who knew him only superficially) in the possibility of human betterment. Much of his life was spent in service to others: summers tutoring youngsters with Upward Bound, a stint with Model Cities, VISTA duty as an advocate for the poor, a mission to Costa Rica on behalf of the Park Street Church. He labored diligently to effect aesthetic as well as social improvement. In New Orleans, he created a neighborhood landscape project, the Treme Horticultural Society, many of whose plantings were cultivated in his own greenhouse. His efforts renovating and restoring historic buildings testified to his passion for beautification, as well as his affection for the past.
Amherst also represented a tie with the past. His father, Joseph DePasqua, graduated in the Class of 1932, and Jeff once remarked that his given name was a tribute to the Fairest College. Shortly after Jeff’s death, his dad wrote me a note in which he indicated that he had hoped someday the two of them could attend an Amherst reunion together.
I don’t believe Jeff ever did attend a reunion. Like many of us, he seems to have put a certain distance between Amherst and himself in the years since graduation. I know that he never felt quite at home with the constraints of the core curriculum, and he found his vocation not so much at Amherst but by structuring his own program of art and design classes at the neighboring colleges—a course of action that was rather audacious at the time.
Jeff was my freshman roommate, and I thought about him last fall when I returned to Amherst after a very long absence to watch my own son embark on his freshman adventure. I remembered the day I first met the DePasquas, father and son, as they performed the same rite of passage some three decades earlier. The campus I rediscovered on this brief sentimental journey seemed to have evolved into a far more diversified and open-minded environment then it was in our day, while maintaining the vibrant spirit and the intimacy that made it unique. I hope that at some point, Jeff, too, had a chance to observe that metamorphosis in our alma mater. I think it is something he would have endorsed, for it mirrors the skillful blending of preservation and enhancement to which he devoted his productive, if tragically abbreviated, life.
Marc Green ‘65