Provost Peggy Agouris sent the following message to the campus community on Sept. 7, 2023. – Ed.
I write to share the news that Philip Joseph Funigiello, William E. Pullen Professor of History, Emeritus, passed away on August 20, 2023. He was predeceased by his parents, Pasquale and Frances Funigiello; his brother, Ralph; his uncles, Anthony and Joseph Funigiello and Joseph’s wife Ida; cousin Valerie Vitalo; and above all, his devoted wife, Joanne Basso Funigiello. Despite having hip surgery several years prior and living with diabetes and congestive heart failure, he maintained an active and independent lifestyle until his last day.
Born in the Bronx, New York on June 28, 1939, Phil received his A.B. degree, with honors in history, from Hunter College, his M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and completed his Ph.D. with distinction at New York University. He joined the faculty of William & Mary in 1966 as an Assistant Professor of History and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1971, to full Professor in 1978, and in 1994 he was named the William E. Pullen Professor of History. He retired from the university in 2001 after 35 years of dedicated service.
A specialist in American urban and economic history, Professor Funigiello’s courses, “The Rise of Urban America,” and “The Growth and Development of the American Economy,” were a mainstay in the History department’s curriculum, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In collaboration with the American Studies Program, he developed a very popular course on “The Sixties in American History.” He served regularly as Director for the M.A.-Ph.D. Research Seminar in Recent American History, and he supervised numerous Master’s theses and several doctoral dissertations. He was one of his department’s most productive scholars, publishing four books and dozens of articles, book chapters, and reviews. His scholarship focused on twentieth-century economic history with works ranging from The New Deal and the Electric Utility Industry to American-Soviet Trade in the Cold War, but he also ventured into other fields with his well-received biography, Florence Lathrop Page. Professor Funigiello was frequently sought after as a reviewer for scholarly manuscripts, and received numerous grants, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Fulbright Lectureship at the University of Genoa in Italy.
In the area of governance and service, Professor Funigiello was actively involved at both the university and the departmental levels. For the university, he served conscientiously on a variety of committees, including two terms as chair of the Committee on Retention, Promotion and Tenure. He also served as an active member of the Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, and chaired the Committee on Faculty, Alumni and Honorary Members. As Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of History, he helped to reinforce the rigorous standards that have earned the graduate program such a high national ranking
Phil was an optimist with a warm and generous nature and a kind heart. He loved reading, particularly historical fiction and nonfiction and mysteries, gardening, watching movies and television, especially the Sunday night PBS programming, and keeping up with politics and current events. He engaged in spirited debates with his colleagues and friends, and was adept at voicing his own opinions passionately while being tolerant of opposing viewpoints and separating the personal from the political. He loved animals, especially cats and the deer families, birds, and rabbits that frequently visited his backyard, but not the lizards that sunned themselves on his deck, towards which he felt a mixture of fear and disgust. He enjoyed culture and in his younger years attended countless plays and concerts locally and in New York as well as visited museums, monuments, churches and other places of significance around the world. He valued learning, curiosity, and hard work, and encouraged the development of those traits in his students, with whom he shared many close and long-lasting friendships.
A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Phil accompanied his wife Joanne when she led the summer abroad program in Italy and traveled extensively with his family throughout much of Europe, including battlefields and other places relevant to WWII, a time in history of particular interest to him. He always loved good food, especially Italian food, company, and conversation; late in life, he discovered a passion for cooking and took Italian language classes through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (formerly the Christopher Wren Association). He also supported numerous local charities, including the Heritage Humane Society (for which he served on the board), Hospice House of Williamsburg, CDR, and FISH. He had many close friends in the local area who became like family and were very special to him, and who helped him both with routine chores like trash pickup and unique challenges like setting up the new Keurig coffeemaker. In return, he was happy to share jars of his homemade pesto and marinara sauces, cheesecakes, and soups with them.
Phil is survived by his daughter Alicia and her husband Joshua, his grandson Alex, his sister and brother-in-law, Theresa and William Lightbody, and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 12 p.m. on Friday, September 8 at St. Bede Catholic Church on Ironbound Road in Williamsburg. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice House of Williamsburg, Heritage Humane Society of Williamsburg, or the American Heart Association.