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Western family pays tribute to memory of loved ones

by Karmen Dowling | August 31, 2010

Western family pays tribute to memory of loved ones
Susan Vitali Lovell and her father, Jack Vitali, are pictured together during Easter 2008, the year they both succumbed to cancer.

For the tight-knit family of the late John (Jack) Vitali, Western and education are family affairs.

An electrical engineer by education, Jack moved to London in 1975, where he became the highly-successful owner of Highbury Ford. Though not a Western grad himself, Jack’s wife Frances went back to school while raising their six children, earning her Western degree in 1991. Four of their children earned Western degrees, and
nine of their 17 grandchildren have also become “purple and proud.”

Frances says education was a life-long pursuit for Jack. He audited engineering and mathematics classes on campus and one year taught his grandchildren about computers. “He set up a classroom in our garage,” recalls Frances. “During the first month they built their own computer, and in the second month they learned how to
use it.”

In 2008, the Vitali’s eldest daughter, Susan Vitali Lovell, a Drug Information Officer at London Health Sciences Centre, died of cancer. Tragedy struck again a few short months later when Jack also succumbed to cancer.

Before he died, however, Jack talked to Frances about leaving money in his daughter’s memory, and now through a gift of $400,000 he left in his will, the Vitali family is ensuring Jack’s wish comes true.

A large portion of Jack’s gift will go to Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, helping to renovate laboratories used for Studies in Fetal Programming. An exam room in the clinical skills building is being named after Susan, and two student Family Medicine awards will also be funded. Another award, called the Susan Vitali-Lovell Gold Medal, will be awarded to the highest-achieving fourth-year Honors Pharmacology student.

Susan’s husband John Lovell (DDS’82) notes the reason Western has played so prominently in the lives of his family is because it’s so close to home. “We have a world-class university right here in our own backyard. So we have the benefit of everything – a great education and a great family close by.”

This article appeared in the Summer 2010 edition of Impact Western
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