NIAAA Staff Mourn Long-Time Colleague Latteri
Benedict "Dick" J. Latteri, acting deputy director, Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research, NIAAA, died of a heart attack on Aug. 7. He had a long and distinguished federal career in administrative and program management, with many years of service at NIAAA and NIMH.
Born in 1942 in the Bronx, Latteri entered Fordham University there in 1960. In what was perhaps an early portent of the path his career would take, Latteri received in 1963 a 10-week National Science Foundation fellowship to serve as a research assistant on a project at the University of North Carolina to study the drinking habits of North Carolina residents.
Benedict "Dick" J. Latteri
After receiving his B.A. in sociology (with a minor in philosophy) from Fordham, Latteri moved with his wife, Patricia, to the Washington area. He entered government service in March 1965 as an administrative assistant in NCI's Grants and Research Contracts Operations Branch. In May 1967, he joined the NIMH extramural program in the Division of Special Mental Health Programs and within 3 years became administrative officer for the program. There, Latteri became involved in 1970 with what would eventually become NIAAA, a part of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
In June 1976, he was promoted to administrative officer, Division of Extramural Research Programs, NIMH. Latteri served only briefly before he was appointed to serve as administrative officer for the President's Commission on Mental Health established by former President Jimmy Carter in February 1977. He served for the life of the commission, a little over a year, then was appointed to serve as administrative officer for the National Commission on the International Year of the Child (1978-79), during which time he was also consulted by White House staff and members of the American Jewish community on the President's Commission on the Holocaust. A commendation from the chair of one of the presidential commissions exemplifies the feelings of many of his colleagues: "You are an outstanding example of a dedicated career federal employee, and we were extremely fortunate to have had you with us."
Latteri returned to NIMH in 1979 to become associate director for program management, helping to establish the Office of Extramural Project Review. In 1984, he joined NIAAA as special assistant to the director, DICBR, and in 1998, he was appointed DICBR acting deputy director, a post he held at the time of his death.
NIAAA scientific director Dr. George Kunos said, "Dick's untimely death represents an irreplaceable loss for our intramural research program and to me, personally. I consider Dick to be a role model for government employees in executive positions. Dick had an unparalleled, deep understanding of the complex processes behind a successful research program, which was coupled with human wisdom, dedication to his work and pride in the achievements of the people whose success greatly depended on his hard work and effectiveness. Coupled to this was a caring person who was unwilling to take credit for his achievements and was perfectly content to work behind the scenes to make things work for the rest of us. He will be sorely missed."
Latteri is survived by his wife, his daughter Claudia Litmann, son Christopher, and three grandchildren; and by his parents, brother and other extended family members.
A memorial symposium is planned for early next year. Contributions in Latteri's memory may be sent to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 17025, Baltimore, MD 21297-0191.
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