Peter F. Merenda (1922-2019)

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Presents an obituary for Peter F. Merenda (1922-2019). Peter received his bachelor of science in math and physics and master of arts in education at Tufts, where he was also in the Navy Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He became an ensign and served in the Navy during World War II. After the war he served as director of research at the Naval Training Center and earned his PhD in counseling and statistics at the University of Wisconsin in 1957. In 1960, Peter cofounded the Departments of Psychology and Computer Science/Statistics at the University of Rhode Island. He was chair of psychology for 12 years at the University of Rhode Island and president of the New England Psychological Association (NEPA), the Rhode Island Psychological Association (RIPA), and the International Council of Psychologists (ICP) as well as chair of ICP conventions in Norway, East and West Germany, England, and Paris. And Peter was a captain in the Navy, a position of which he was particularly proud. Inspired, in part, by his Sicilian heritage, Peter served for 5 years as codirector of Project Talent in Sicily. This project informed national development plans for manpower and priority occupations. Peter's contributions were honored by awards from his community; state (RIPA); region (NEPA); APA Karl Heiser Presidential Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions (Division 5); James McKeon Cattell Fellow Award; and awards from Portugal, the Republic of China, and Italy. Peter's contributions also included being influential in building an outstanding quantitative psychology specialty. Over the years, faculty like Wayne F. Velicer (1944 -2017), Lisa Harlow, and Joseph S. Rossi have been recognized as high-impact authors in quantitative and health psychology. Amazing it is that one person could accomplish so much and so well, while being so close to his wife, Rose, whom he met in elementary school when they were both 12. Rose (1922-2014) was a professor at Rhode Island College and an expert in early childhood education. Peter Francis Merenda was a remarkable individual who lived an extraordinary life, impacting people far and wide. In his 97-plus years, Peter accomplished much and gave back much to others- his family, friends, colleagues, students, community, country, and internationally. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication Title

The American psychologist