Salvatore Ignacio Maddi
January 27, 1933 – November 29, 2020
Obituary for Dr. Salvatore I Maddi On Sunday, November 29th, 2020 Dr. Salvatore Ignacio (aka Richard) Maddi, loving husband of Deborah Khoshaba-Maddi and father of Karen and Christopher Maddi, passed away of cancer at the age of 87.
Salvatore was born in Manhattan New York on January 27th, 1933 to Petro and Jennie Maddi. Salvatore’s father had immigrated from Sicily to New York early in the last century to seek his fortune, and later wrote back to the priest in his hometown to send him a suitable wife. His mother, a well-educated devout Catholic who came from a family who had fallen into hard times, accepted the invitation to move to New York and married his father. Petro worked in produce at a grocery store and Jennie was a seamstress in the garment industry, making men’s suits. Sal was the youngest of their four children and the only boy. His sisters, Rosina, Mary and Grace are now all deceased. Sal grew up bilingual and they spoke Italian at home, although he and his sisters learned English in school.
Sal was raised in an immigrant neighborhood of New York City where he attended public schools. During grade and high school, he would encounter neighborhood bullies who picked on him. He recalled many times his mother’s loving words of support. “Couraggio my son,” she would say. Sal’s mother’s encouraged Sal from the start not to shrink back from life problems. He credited her with teaching her children the value of decency, a good education and contributing positively to society. In his youth and early teens, Sal was an avid boy scout and developed a love of the outdoors, despite his urban upbringing. He also loved art and dabbled in creative pursuits, although he always believed his sisters were more talented than he was. One of Sal’s first jobs was as a messenger in New York City. He carried out his job by riding a bicycle from one destination to the next. Although anxious at first to travel to locations unfamiliar to him, he remembered his mother Jennie’s message of courage. Despite his modest means, his parents’ courage and determination to better themselves showed Sal that life beyond the limitations of his childhood was possible for him. Little did he know back then that this loving and encouraging beginning would evolve into Sal helping people to navigate tough times and circumstances to their personal and professional success.
Sal showed academic potential from a young age. Teachers took him under their wing and encouraged him early on to get a college education. He attended the prestigious Stuyvesant high school and went on to Brooklyn College. Although he initially considered architecture, he ultimately earned a Master’s degree in psychology with Honors from Brooklyn College in 1956. He went on to Harvard University where he earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Minor in Personality and Social Psychology. He was certified as a Clinical Psychologist in the States of Illinois and later California. In February1954 Salvatore married Dorothy-Anne Linder, his college sweetheart. Their first child Karen was born in New York City, but shortly thereafter, they started a new life in Cambridge Massachusetts when Sal attended Harvard. Ultimately, Sal and Dorothy ended up living in Chicago, Illinois, as Sal became a Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago. Later, their son Christopher was born.
Sal loved being a professor, loved university life, and made his career in academia. His students not only gave him high ratings for his teaching, but also commented that he was a snappy dresser because he preferred tighter European cut suits to the prevailing baggy jackets and typical casual attire of Hyde Park academicians. He was a prolific researcher and talented writer who authored many articles and books. He was particularly interested in what makes a person be resilient despite experiencing stressful circumstances, a personality characteristic he called Hardiness, an early concept in the resilience and positive psychology movement today. Later in his career he worked on ways to enhance people’s hardiness, which was picked up and practiced in numerous countries. He earned many accolades in his career including two Lifetime Achievement awards, and numerous grants and other awards. Sal was also a social activist, championing the rights of others through participation in public demonstrations as a young man, but also by how he led his life overall, treating others as an equal no matter who they were or where they came from. He had a knack for making people feel valuable, capable and good about themselves. He was curious about the world, loved to travel, and escorted his family on many trips, including one where he took his mother back to the town of her childhood in Sicily, a place she had not seen since she was a teenager. He was also an avid gardener and loved to play tennis.
Life brought changes and his first marriage did not last. Once their children were grown, he and Dorothy ended their marriage. Sal was recruited to be the chair of the department of Social Ecology at UC Irvine in California. He moved to Laguna Beach, a town he was drawn to because it was beside the ocean and was filled with artists and what he affectionately called “lagunatics” which seemed to mean that he found a wide range of open minded creative people who made him feel at home. Sal fell in love with and married Deborah Khoshaba, a psychologist with whom he shared many interests, not the least of which was his research. They spent over 30 years together in southern California, working side by side as professionals, in addition to sharing all the other parts of their loving relationship. To the very end, they would delight in learning how much their individual interests and tastes were closely matched. Together they also shared a love of Maltese dogs and he was the proud “daddy” of several who in turn adored him.
Sal did not step down from his full professorship at UCI until he was in his eighties. He saw no reason to stop working when he was doing what he loved. Finally, there came the time when he decided he needed more time to relax and he retired, first in Laguna Beach and in the last several years, in Las Vegas, NV where he and Debbie moved to be nearer her family. He spent the last years of his life beside the Red Rocks of Nevada, enjoying the ever-present sunshine and the company of his wife and family. He is survived by his wife Deborah, his daughter Karen Maddi and son-in-law Robert Perks, his son Christopher Maddi and daughter-in-law Toni Maddi, step-grandchildren David Perks , Nora Piorkowski, and Maxim Lott.
Salvatore Ignacio Maddi
August 26, 2021
I'm so happy to know that you and Sal shared such a great love. Yesterday I had a strong urge to e-mail Sal, to say hello, as I have done not often enough over the years since the UofC. I was writing him to remind him how he's appreciated still 40 years later (my e-mail was returned undelivered). I'm glad to see Lori and Paul above, and just like them Sal was my mentor and my friend. Although we were a team, we were so much more a family.
We were happy, pleased, honored to work with Sal, and there were many occassions of professional pride for the hardiness team and many others for celebrating Sal's many accomplishments, but mostly we just loved him, for the man he was.
Sal was a kind and caring man, always, I never saw him otherwise - a mench, somebody that you just wanted to spend time with, to be around, a good and kind friend. We all would not infrequently hang-out at his house, but perhaps my fondest memories is just he and I laying tile on his deck floor, and tending his flower garden.
I had written him that it seemed like it was all just yesterday. I'm heartbroken to learn that Sal passed. I love your Brother. Rest in Peace My Friend.
Much Love, Marc Zola
August 22, 2021
I am very sorry to read the news today and please accept my condolences. Dr. Maddi had a tremendously positive effect on me as an undergraduate at UCI. His teaching and extensive work on hardiness and resilience provided the tools that I needed to navigate the challenging transition from academic life to the unknown world beyond.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to thank him in person many years later in Laguna Beach.
M Patricia Bernbom, Psy.D.
January 8, 2021
I am so very sorry to hear about Sal's passing. Please accept my condolences.
Sal was so wonderful to me when he was chair of my dissertation committee. He only made one correction and it was missed comma!!! I was completely prepared to make several revisions and I was so shocked that I had difficulty comprehending.
I watched him read it and I don't remember breathing . He put his little check marks throughout. When he handed it to me, I kept looking through each page for revisions.
He finally said "Pat, you're done, you did it. Did you bring any of those cookies today?" He loved the Italian cookies that I used to bring to all of our meetings that were from a caterer in my my neighborhood. So we had the cookies and talked and laughed for another hour. One of the best days of my life. He was the sweetest man.
I also have so many great memories of parties at his house. That was during the time that you and I were working for the Hardiness Institute when he was still at the University of Chicago. You and I had weekly supervision from him at the house when we did the Hardiness groups for executives. I remember it being so much fun.
I also remember a wonderful afternoon visiting him when he initially moved to Laguna and began working as a visiting professor at the UnIversity of California at Irvine. He was always so gracious and welcoming.
I remember Sal asked me to do the initial interview with you when you were interested in joining the Institute. I was already finished and working in private practice by that time, so we only had that brief encounter. To think you have shared such a long an wonderful life with Sal. I can only imagine the depth of your loss.
Love to all,
December 22, 2020
Dr. Sal Maddi has had a profound impact on many lives, including my own.
It was in 1974 that Sal gave a guest lecture to my undergraduate class on personality theory at U. Mass Boston. My professor at that time was Dr. Paul T. Costa, another former student of Maddi's at the University of Chicago. Naturally, our text was Maddi's "Personality Theories: A Comparative Analysis." I was struck that such a towering figure in personality could be so unassuming and gentle-mannered in person. Sad to say, I've learned those are rare qualities among academics.
Later, with Dr. Costa's encouragement I applied to U of Chicago and was fortunate to get in, and ended up studying under Dr. Maddi. I had the privilege of working as his teaching assistant and as part of his vibrant research team with Dr. Suzanne Kobasa. Few teachers gave so readily to their students.
Sal chaired my dissertation committee, and along with several others I helped in the launch of his hardiness training program at Illinois Bell Telephone. Through it all Sal was a constant teacher, mentor and friend. I remember fondly that after a long day, a number of us would sometimes continue our discussions over beer and popcorn at what we dubbed the "Hardiness Institute II," the student bar and hangout in the basement of Ida Noyes Hall. Happy times!
Now, as this most tumultuous year of 2020 draws to a close, I can't help wondering what Sal would say about it all. I think it would be something like: "What can we learn from this, and be better human beings?"
December 18, 2020
I was so very saddened to hear of Sal's passing, Debbie. My heart goes out to you. I was blessed to know Sal through you and our friendship over the years and will fondly remember dinners at your house in Laguna and long weekends spent in your home in Vegas. What a kind and gentle man Sal was, and he will be dearly missed. I am always here for you. Sending you lots of love and peace.
With love always,
Lorill (Lori) Bean
December 17, 2020
Sal was a mentor and dissertation advisor to me when I worked on his research team at the University of Chicago. My study group in the groundbreaking research from which the “Hardiness “ concept grew was Bell Telephone Company executives. I had never met any kind of business executive prior to my first interview of one. I’d already lived in four countries, spoke German and French in addition to English and had worked closely with the California governor; however, I was uncharacteristically intimidated by the first interview, and although it went well I found afterward that I’d neglected to remove the cover from the video camera. Sal was so kind when I confessed that I had audio but no video. I remember that he took most things in stride whether a small issue like this or a larger one, often with a wry comment. As his student I found that a delightful contrast with some of the more temperamental department faculty. I ended up going into a career in business, doing research on motivation in Fortune 100 & 500 companies. In addition to enjoying working with Sal and the hardiness research team, I had learned over the period of interviewing many executives that there were some talented and interesting people in business. I’ve explained hardiness and “the 3 C’s” countless time in various contexts over the years, as well as mentally referred to them during my own periods of exogenous stress. Sal’s mentorship and intellect had such a favorable impact on my thinking and career. I’m happy to express it now in memorializing him here, but I wish I’d made the time to thank him more fully.
December 10, 2020
Dear Salvatore, after reading many of your works, I invited you to Italy in 2016, for a conference on hardiness in Milan, there were many people listening to you. As soon as I met you I perfectly remember your kind ways, your calm charisma and the precision of your words, as well as the brilliance of your ideas. I immediately understood that you would have been a Master for me, and since then our collaboration and our friendship began. Those days locked up in a room learning from you what resilience was true I will never forget, and they have forever changed my life, personally and professionally. You spurred and encouraged me, together with Debbie, to bring your thoughts to Italy and then to Europe, allowing me and my colleagues to found the European headquarters of The European Hardiness Institute with you. A privilege that we will honor in your name.
You hosted me in your home, together with my son Alessio Carlo, who in a few days became strongly attached to you and your sweet conversation. I will always carry in my heart the moments spent together, and in my profession I will continue to give life to your teachings, with the humility, curiosity and determination that only the great have, and that you have taught me.
We always miss you, we will never abandon you.
Hi Sal, "the resilient" -
December 8, 2020
I am so sorry for your loss. A lifetime together is never enough. I am thinking of both of you with so much love.
Your cousin Sherry
December 8, 2020
Sal my sweet, loving husband, colleague and best friend of 34 years passed away from cancer. True to his life work, he stayed Hardy throughout nine months of treatment. He never complained and approached his health situation like a challenge that he could manage by doing all he could to recover. Many of you know of Sal’s many professional accomplishments and that he was a gentle and kind soul. He was a true humanitarian concerned about the welfare of every person and equality and justice for all. Every Friday for many many years Sal brought home roses to me. He loved flowers and gardening and watching the rabbits and chipmunks run around our yard. Sal and I were so fortunate to have found true love with each other and to both nourish that love daily in so many ways. I will miss my sweet Sal every day. But the 34 blessed years with him will keep me strong & I will live with him in my heart and memories forever. As his Italian mom always said to him in hard times ~ Courragio my son. Courragio my love . I will endure with courage and love in my heart for you, forever. Debbie❤️
December 7, 2020
I had both Profs. Maddi and Koshaba while doubling in CLS and PSB in the school of social ecology at UCI. I remember him fondly and was honored to have been a member of the hardiness team. The photo is from a dinner at Prof. Maddi’s home in 2006, to wrap up the end of the academic year. My condolences to his family.
December 4, 2020
We have many messages for you from UCI. We have your Laguna Beach address, but please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like us to send them elsewhere.
The dean announced Sal's passing to the university in a beautiful message. We can forward that to you as well.
December 3, 2020
So much has been written about Sal over the years, and that's as it should be. Sal’s name is known by others everywhere I have travelled. There isn't a lot that I can add to his eulogy. Though you knew him better than anyone, worked with him longer and, with him, created more memorable writings, I feel honored to have been a part of Sal’s life, and yours, advancing our work while in Irvine.
It's hard, maybe impossible, to sum up Sal’s life in a short space, however in his memory I'll try to make a hard thing simple. He is among most talented person I've ever known, generously sharing his intellect and time. He was also one of the nicest. I will miss him to no end.
Hugs and Love,
November 30, 2020
Dearest Deb, my deepest sympathies. I was just thinking about you and Sal yesterday, and Mike shared with me this evening that Sal had passed away. What a loss to all of those who knew Sal. He was such a special person. Whenever I think of him, the word "equanimity" comes to mind. What a blessing to have had him as your partner in life.
All of my love,