Frank A. Morelli
Microbiologist, husband, friend to all

Frank Morelli, a longtime Claremont resident, died on November 16, 2012. He was 90.

Mr. Morelli was born in Chicago, and earned his degree from the University of Illinois. He served as a surgical technician in World War II, assisting in field hospitals on fronts in Europe. Following the war, Mr. Morelli worked for National Institute of Health (NIH) in Maryland.

In 1962, he joined Jet Propulsion Laboratories in California, working as a bioscience lab manager. He produced major studies that aided space exploration on Mars. In 1974, Mr. Morelli traveled to Antarctica with a group of scientists. His projects and research were groundbreaking and are still relevant today. He was credited with discovering the oldest living organism in the South Pole at that point in time. A vast ridge in Antarctica that extends from Hoehn Peak into the upper part of Bartley Glacier is named Morelli Ridge in his honor.

The Morellis were Claremont residents from 1966 to 2012. Mr. Morelli was an active parishioner at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, serving on vestry, as an usher, in the kitchen helping to clean up after potlucks and standing at the top of a ladder decorating the nave or parish hall for events. He always made people feel comfortable and was a friend to all. In his retirement years, Mr. Morelli spent time learning, reading, traveling and “tinkering.”

Mr. Morelli celebrated his 90th birthday in August, with family and friends in Escondido, where he and his wife Ann lived.

He is survived by his wife, Ann, of 62 years; by his sons and daughters-inlaw, John and Jean Morelli, David and Amber Morelli and Tim and Liza Morelli; by his daughters and sons-inlaw, Judy and Bill Shagena and Ellen and Rick Gruber; by 7 grandchildren, Emily Ann, Eric, Megan, Allyson, Matthew, Katie and Garrett; by his sister Marie Harte and by his nephew Leonard Petrocilli and former daughter-in-law Melissa Foster.


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