Memorable Mineralogist

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:56

    FRANKLIN-Recollecting a man who quietly amassed a lengthy list of achievements during his lifetime, a crowd of about 150 mourners bade farewell to John Cianciulli in a memorial service this past Sunday at the Franklin Mineral Museum. Cianciulli, who had served as curator there for more than four years before being stricken by a fatal heart attack on Jan. 13, was remembered as a man who left an indelible imprint on the lives of many, including his former colleagues and family members. "I could write many books about John," said museum treasurer Lee Lowell, one of numerous speakers who paid tribute to the late curator. "John had a knowledge of the aspects of life that was incredible. He could have been a psychiatrist, he could have been a psychologist. John's pain is now gone, but we have pain and we can't replace him." "I'd like all of you to know how much of an impact he had on my life, and how he straightened me out," stated a tearful Megan Durham, Cianciulli's stepdaughter of almost three years. Cianciulli, who died just five days before his 56th birthday, had a career aided by remarkable talents, many self-taught, that included 10 years of experience in automotive repair and servicing, a certificate in Literacy Training from the Literacy Volunteers of America, experience as a lithographic film coater, and nearly four years of experience as an assistant loan manager. Cianciulli dropped out of high school early, but he later earned his GED equivalent. He also received six credit hours in both General and Child Psychology from the County College of Morris, accruing a perfect 4.0 average. His impressive mineralogical talents were confirmed by the Smithsonian Institute, which named a mineral he discovered after him. In later years, Cianciulli suffered from a variety of physical ailments that took their toll on his health, but his sharp, rapid insight of mineralogy, as well as his marriage to Carol Durham on July 27, 2002 that many — including Cianciulli's predecessor as curator, John Baum — say helped prolong his life, were on the minds of many in attendance. Also, Cianciulli's work as a counselor with the Department of Corrections was recollected by his admirers, one of whom, Lou Cherapy, said that the late curator's work in attempting to show inmates "the error of their ways" left his community as a better place. "On behalf of those inmates who became productive members of society and to those who did not become victims of crime, I would like to offer a personal farewell," Cherapy said. "He gave his heart and soul into studying the minerals, and they gave back," added museum board of trustee member Dick Bostwick. "And he got to marry his soulmate. I'm sorry he won't be with us for the next 20 years." One of the most emotional tributes was delivered by former museum trustee Steve Kuitems, who fought back tears as he spoke. "John lived through a lot of physical pain and he persevered through that," Kuitems explained. "It was truly a delight to see Carol come into his life, to see him perk up, to see him with a grin on his face, even with a spring in his step. John didn't have much of a spring." Peter Fawcett, the late curator's stepson, offered an anecdote about his father overlooking a valuable rock when the son started collecting at the age of nine. "He was great," Fawcett added. "He was my dad." Carol Cianciulli, several days prior to the service, had written a poem, "My Honeybear," to her late husband, and, though unable to bring herself to read it at the time, relayed it later to the Advertiser News: Our lives were like a puzzle; both had pieces missing The pieces that were missing, each of us held for one another. The pieces were put back together, and we became as one We gave each other all of ourselves to one another, And this made for us a love that would not be forgotten. Though now you are in heaven and a piece of my puzzle is now gone, I shall always have the memory of the greatest love of all: My Honeybear. "Share stories about him," concluded Rev. Martin Glynn of Immaculate Conception Church in Franklin, who conducted the service. "And every time you do that, as long as you're alive, he's still with us."