Saverio “Savy” Procario, a former director of the Fordham University Press who helped to revive many of the press’ most well-regarded backlist titles, died on March 8. He was 90.
He died from complications with Parkinson’s disease, according to family.
Procario, who grew up in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx, worked at Fordham for 19 years. He served as the press’ associate director, where he was in charge of its finances, before being named its director in 1991, a position he held until he retired in 2004.
“He was the right man for the job at the right time,” said Loomis Mayer, a retired production manager at the press who worked with Procario during his tenure. “During those years, I think Savy really carried us through.”
A proud World War II Army veteran, Procario was credited for jumpstarting the distribution of World War II books in addition to promoting several of the press’ backlist titles in law, the humanities, and social sciences.
“He knew there was a niche and a demand for certain types of books,” said Mayer. “We had a couple of titles on subjects that you wouldn’t think anyone would read, but they did well once Savy got it going.”
Members of the Fordham community described Procario, an avid Yankees fan, as a family man and a “true gentlemen” who listened, cared, and believed in his staff.
“He would tell you what he wanted and he trusted that you would do it,” said Margaret Noonan, a business manager who has worked at the press for close to 40 years.
Procario was known for his sharp business acumen, which, among other things, resulted in a beneficial partnership with the now defunct Sleepy Hollow Press. According to Noonan, the partnership allowed Fordham University Press to acquire up to 40 of its titles in the late 1990s, further adding to its backlist sales.
It was through Procario’s connections that the press, the nation’s oldest Catholic university publishing company, was able to reprint and fundraise for books about the Rockefellers. These included J.W. Ernst’s Worthwhile Places (January 1991), and Dear Father, Dear Son (January 1994), a collection of previously unpublished letters chronicling the history of the transfer of the Rockefeller fortune.
Under Procario’s helm, the press published several notable books by celebrated figures of the 20th century, including And the Risen Bread (May 1999), a collection of poetry by the late American Jesuit and anti-war activist Daniel Berrigan; and Maverick’s Progress (January 1996), an autobiography of the award-winning George Washington biographer James Thomas Flexner.
“He was available, accessible, and willing to promote writings, not only by well-known authors, but also newcomers,” said John D. Feerick, former Law School dean whose Pulitzer Prize-nominated book, The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Earliest Application (1976) was reissued under Procario’s tenure.
Among his other accomplishments was spearheading the publication of Harold Holzer’s The Union Preserved: A Guide to the Civil War Records in the New York State Archives (May 1999) and The State of the Union: New York State and the Civil War (February 2002), both of which were joint publications between the press and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.
“He had such a great passion for Fordham and its place in the world of books,” said Feerick. “When I think of all the great people that I have met in life, Savy would be included in that. He was very endearing and you don’t ever forget a person like that.”
A funeral Mass was held for Procario at the Holy Name of Jesus Church in Valhalla, New York, on March 10.
In addition to 20 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, Procario is survived by his wife, Lydia, and his daughters Erica (Stephen) Carey, FCRH ’79, Andrea (Joseph) Colao, Elena (Carl) Procario-Foley, Ph.D., FCRH ‘85, Amanda (Edward) Addvensky, FCRH ’88, GSE ’89, Jessica (Christopher) Nardi, FCRH ’90, GSAS ’92, and Leticia (Joseph) Anthes, FCRH ‘77.