Steven Frankino, 69, law dean

Posted: October 03, 2005

Steven P. Frankino, 69, dean emeritus and professor of law at Villanova University School of Law, died Monday of lung cancer at home in Wayne.

Mr. Frankino headed the law school from 1986 to 1997, when he retired to teach. The Rev. Edmund Dobbin, president of Villanova since 1988, said Mr. Frankino was "an outstanding leader" at the law school.

"He was a personal friend and confidant of mine, providing me with excellent counsel and support, especially during the early years of my presidency," Dobbin said.

Mr. Frankino first taught at Villanova's law school from 1965 to 1971. He left Villanova to be dean of Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Neb., where he oversaw the design of a new law center. While in Omaha, he worked at a law firm for two years. Then he moved to Washington, where he headed Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America from 1979 to 1986 before returning to Villanova as dean.

Mr. Frankino was active in American Bar Association initiatives to facilitate legal reform in Central and Eastern Europe. He was treasurer of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project and was a member of the Pennsylvania Futures Commission on Justice in the 21st Century. In recent years, he had become an authority on religion and the law in society, said Mr. Frankino's wife, Rosemarie Leonardo Frankino.

A native of Butte, Mont., Mr. Frankino earned a bachelor's degree and a law degree from Catholic University. He was a member of the Law Review and later taught at the law school for two years. He and his wife met at Catholic University and married in 1965.

In 1970, Mr. Frankino was a research professor at the Institute of Comparative Law at the University of Florence. His wife said her husband first traveled to Italy as a teenager to visit relatives and fell in love with Northern Italian cuisine. He was a gourmet cook and had thousands of cookbooks, she said. He was also an accomplished woodworker and decorative painter.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Frankino is survived by daughters Christina Frankino and Alleen Frankino-Lint; son Sean; a brother; and two granddaughters.

A Mass will be said at noon today at St. Thomas of Villanova Chapel, Villanova University campus.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or

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