Professor Mario Aste, 76, a proud Lowell resident, passed away on February 6, 2019 at D'Youville Senior Care, surrounded by his loving family. Despite Mario's battle with early onset Alzheimer's, it was his zeal for life, devotion to family and friends, love for his city and community, and faith in God that supported him in his struggle and ultimately gave him peace.
Mario was born on January 11, 1943 to the late Stefano and Francesca Aste. He grew up in Carloforte on the Isola de San Pietro of Sardinia, Italy. He graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he earned an M.A. and a Ph.D in Italian and Romance Philology. There he met his beloved "Dot," marrying in June 1970. They settled in Lowell, becoming active parishioners and Eucharistic Ministers at Saint Michael Parish. Their three children were Mario's pride and joy. Pictures of them adorned his university office, and his "bambini" often peppered Mario's conversations and lectures.
Mario was truly a "Renaissance man." Fluent in several languages, he loved all types of music, the arts, his garden, cooking, and sports - especially soccer, as he was player, referee, and coach. As President of the Lowell Youth Soccer Association, he was part of the committee that created the city's first centralized location for soccer (Edwards Field). He helped the immigrant community as President of Lowell's International Institute. As a member of the Italian American Cultural Club, he loved raising the Italian flag at Lowell City Hall every Columbus Day. For many years, Mario demonstrated ethnic cooking at the Lowell Folk Festival, telling stories of his homeland as he prepared diverse dishes. He was a member of St. Vincent de Paul Society, Knights of Columbus, and Nocturnal Adoration Society. Mario was a perpetual community volunteer, including Boy Scouts and parish events. He served on Lowell Catholic High School's Board of Trustees, and he volunteered as a Spanish teacher at Saint Michael School for many years.
As a professor of languages and humanities at Lowell State College, now University of Massachusetts Lowell, Mario's passion for teaching instilled a love of learning in countless students and colleagues for nearly 40 years. He served as Chair of the Language/Cultural Studies Department and President of the Massachusetts Society of Professors/MTA Union. His courses spanned a myriad of topics from Cinema, Culture, Religion, and Science. He served on many university committees and enjoyed several lifelong friendships which flourished over the years through a variety of conferences. His professional affiliations included the American Italian Historical Association, American Association for Teachers of Italian, Modern Language Association, and the American Association for Italian Studies. A recipient of various NEH and Lowell Art Council grants, Mario's ideas live on in his published works, including his books on Grazia Deledda and Pirandello, and his articles on Italian immigrants, folklore, and cinema. His love of poetry led him to pen his own poems, particularly when inspired by family or nature.
Mario will be deeply missed by his wife, Dorothy Elaine (Balbirer) of 48 years and his three children: Stephen Robert Aste and wife Renee (Couture) of Lowell, MA; Marie Francesca Aste of Brookline, MA; and Kristina Elizabeth Aste-Mayer and husband Jean-Paul Mayer of Wilmington, MA; and his four cherished grandchildren: Katherine, James, Joseph, and Michael Aste of Lowell, MA. He will also be missed by three siblings: his brother Salvatore Aste and wife Silvana of Albignasego, Italy; his sister Vittoria Corda and husband Paulo of Quartu St. Elena, Italy; and his brother Angelo Aste and wife Maria of Cagliari, Italy. He leaves four in-laws: Mary Ann Harrison, Robert Balbirer, Frank Balbirer, and Paula Balbirer, as well as the late David Balbirer and Elmer Harrison. He is survived by loving nieces and nephews across the globe, as well as many dear friends, both near and far.
Mario's family would like to thank everyone at D'Youville Life and Wellness Community in Lowell for their compassionate care, especially the dedicated staff on "C" Unit.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend Mario's life celebration at MCKENNA-OUELLETTE FUNERAL HOME, 327 Hildreth Street on Monday, February 11 from 4 until 8 PM. His Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Michael Church in Lowell on Tuesday, February 12 at 10:00 AM. Friends may gather on Tuesday from 8:30 to 9:15 am for additional visiting before the funeral. Burial in St. Joseph's Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mario's memory to the "C" wing of the Special Care Unit at D'Youville Senior Care, 981 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854, or to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Michael Church, 543 Bridge Street, Lowell, MA 01850, or to the MA/NH Chapter of Alzheimer's Association, 480 Pleasant Street, Watertown, MA 02472.