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A Stanford Fan Forever
It was a chilly Minnesota night in November 2010, but Robert Dinapoli, '55, MD '58, and his wife, Anne, couldn’t stay away from the Alumni Association's local Big Game party. Stanford was on its hottest winning streak since 1940, after all. Alumni and fans of all ages gathered at a Minneapolis bowling alley to watch the Cardinal reclaim the axe. "I've watched Stanford football since I was a child, and I've never seen a team that good," says Dinapoli.
He didn't always have to venture out in the cold to see Stanford play. Dinapoli grew up in Palo Alto, worked at the stadium selling programs as a teenager, and never considered going anywhere else for college. He majored in basic medical sciences, which in those days allowed students to graduate in three years and begin medical school. "As a result," he says with a laugh, "most of my memories of Stanford as an undergraduate involve studying." Like so many pre-med students, he struggled and sweated through his freshman courses but managed to stick with it and earn the grades he needed to get into medical school.
All that hard work must have paid off. After four years at Stanford School of Medicine and an internship at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, Dinapoli landed a residency at the Mayo Clinic, where he went on to become a pioneer in the field of neuro-oncology. He helped establish the subspecialty group within Mayo's neurology department, known for diagnosing and treating some of the rarest and most challenging conditions of the brain and nervous system. He taught medical students and residents, researched new and emerging treatments for brain tumors, and helped countless patients who faced life-threatening diagnoses. He retired from full-time practice in 1999.
Dinapoli may take a matter-of-fact tone when talking about his career, but on the subject of his family, he can't help beaming with pride. He met Anne shortly after he moved to Rochester for his residency; three weeks later, they were engaged to be married. They celebrated their 50th anniversary last summer. "All three of our red-haired daughters went to Stanford," he says with a smile. Though they grew up in Minnesota, they ventured west to join the family tree of Stanford graduates, which also includes Dinapoli's father, sister, and nephew. He winces only slightly when he recalls the tuition bills from the year that Connie, '83, and her twin sisters Carolyn and Susan (both '86) were all on the Farm at the same time.
A Legacy of Opportunity
It was more than family ties that moved the Dinapolis to include Stanford in their estate plans. "I was involved in education throughout my career, teaching medical residents and students, so I have a soft spot in my heart for the university," Robert explains. Though he didn’t attend his 55th undergraduate reunion last year, he marked the milestone by joining the Founding Grant Society. He'd been intending to do so, and a letter from his class committee's planned giving chair was just the reminder he needed. Dinapoli called Stanford’s Office of Planned Giving to let them know that he and Anne were updating their will to include a bequest in support of undergraduate scholarships. "I want to help make it possible for students who didn't necessarily have the advantages I had to go to Stanford."
The Dinapolis watched Stanford's Orange Bowl victory from home, but in celebration, their grandchildren gave Robert some new Stanford gear bearing quarterback Andrew Luck's jersey number, 12. Dinapoli was impressed with Luck's decision to stay at Stanford and finish his degree instead of leaving early to join the NFL, which makes him feel even better about giving back. "It says a lot about the quality of the education," he says. "Stanford makes me proud."