ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Leonard Napolitano, the father of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the former dean of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, died Monday in Albuquerque. He was 82.
His death was confirmed by an Albuquerque funeral home that is handling the arrangements.
Janet Napolitano told the Albuquerque Journal that her father died Monday morning of natural causes a day before his 83rd birthday.
Leonard Napolitano, a longtime Albuquerque resident, joined the UNM School of Medicine in the mid-1960s and was a teacher in the Department of Anatomy before becoming the school's third dean in 1972. He retired in 1994.
Current medical school dean Dr. Paul Roth called Napolitano "one of the great legends of New Mexico and one of the fathers of the UNM School of Medicine. He saw what we could become and built the foundation upon which our great Health Sciences Center stands today."
In 2009, Leonard Napolitano became the UNM School of Medicine's first "Living Legend Award" recipient.
That same year, he was honored at a Washington, D.C., reception for his role in the Mind Research Network's "Dominici Neuroscience Symposium," a co-operation between MRN and the National Institutes of Health that looked at how research advances the ability to more accurately diagnose and treat mental illness.
Leonard Napolitano was the Albuquerque-based Mind Research Network's first chairman and served on its board for years.
He is survived by two other children — Leonard Napolitano Jr. and Nancy Angela Napolitano — along with four grandchildren.
Janet Napolitano told the Journal that her father was very supportive of his children and encouraged them to be well-educated.
She was Arizona's Attorney General from 1999-2002 and the state's governor from 2003-2008 before taking the Homeland Security post in 2009.
Officials at French Funerals and Cremations said services for Leonard Napolitano were pending.