2018-08-30 / Obituaries

Stephen Joseph Mecca

Stephen Joseph Mecca passed away Aug. 28, 2018, after a formidable battle with cancer.

He was predeceased by his wife of nearly 54 years, Linda, whom he was still grieving at the time of his death.

Steve was born Jan. 15, 1943, in Brooklyn, the oldest son of Joseph and Marion Mecca. He graduated from St. Patrick’s High School in Newburgh, N.Y., and attended Providence College earning a B.S. and an M.S. in physics. He earned his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1969 and returned to PC as a physics professor. He served for a time as vice president of academic affairs at PC and eventually returned to the classroom. He loved teaching and he loved Providence College, a second home for 55 years of his adult life.

In 1976, Steve was a founding director of TIMES², serving on its board for more than 30 years and seeing it grow from a grassroots organization promoting STEM education before that was a common acronym, to its eventual opening of a charter school academy. He was so excited by the successes of the students who were TIMES² achievers.

During summer semesters and sabbaticals, Steve often worked on other projects, including at NASA in the mid-1970s and for NATO. He served on the Rhode Island Atomic Energy Commission for over 30 years, including as chairman, and employed sustainable energy practices in his own home, including using solar power from the early 1970s.

As years and decades passed, he became an increasingly better teacher, offering undergraduate students the opportunity to do scholarly research in interesting fields. He started his S-Lab — “a research lab for all students” — at Providence College, and mentored hundreds of students the past 10 years.

During his 2009 sabbatical, he traveled to Ghana and taught at the University of Ghana-Legon. While there, he learned of the need for an effective restroom sanitation solution than what existed, and helped to develop an affordable, off-grid, sustainable toilet that is manufactured and maintained by local businesses. This toilet and distribution model is in 21 countries today.

He also sent more than 100,000 textbooks to Ghana and created an education portal that could be used to set up computer labs in places without internet, which was implemented in over 100 schools. He was exhilarated by this work, and what started as a local Ghana project rapidly grew to global projects in health, sanitation, technology, and education in many developing countries. He often said he would not rest until everyone in the world had clean, safe, and respectable facilities to use.

Steve loved life and had seemingly endless energy. He was a leader who brought people together and was, in many ways, larger than life. He cheered for the Friars and was an avid New York Yankees fan, played numerous musical instruments, sang at St. Mark Church and with the Jamestown Community Chorus, and was a Jamestown Rotarian.

He loved his family and adored his grandchildren and will be missed by them and the many people whose lives he touched.

He leaves behind his daughter, Lisa, his sons, Stephen and Michael; his grandchildren, Hannah, Alyssa, Kendra, Camille, Sophia, Sydney and Sebastian; his brothers, Robert and Joe; the spouses of his children, grandchildren and brothers; his three nieces, Kristen, Pam, and Julie.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, September 1, 2018 at 10am in St. Mark Church, 60 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown.  Burial will follow in St. Mark Cemetery.  Visiting hours will be Friday from 1-3pm and 5-8pm in the FAGAN-QUINN Funeral Home, 825 Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown. 

In lieu of flowers, donations to Global Sustainable Aid Project https://globalsustainableaid.org/ are welcome.  For information and condolences visit: www.FaganQuinnFuneralHome.com.

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