Magazine Feature / People

Bonomo loved life in the lab

Francis Bonomo was a great contributor to DU, even if he had a fairly quiet presence on campus, his colleagues say.

His contributions at the University began as a student and spanned his entire career. He was great with students, says Research Professor Bob Amme, but Bonomo felt at home in the research lab — and for good reason. He was “something of a figure” in the research field, doing a lot of chemical work in the upper atmosphere as well as research on petroleum.

Bonomo, who spent some 40 years with the University of Denver, died Jan. 9. He was 88.

Francis Bonomo was born Sept. 3, 1921, in Denver. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1943, and his master’s in 1949, both from DU.

He began his work as a laboratory assistant in the chemistry department in 1940. In 1946, he became a lecturer and a research assistant in the department of mathematics and astronomy.

Bonomo was a member of a research group that worked on infrared instrumentation of high-altitude balloons that rose to more than 100,000 feet, beyond most of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Bonomo synthesized a number of chemicals that were suspected to be, or found, in the upper atmosphere, Amme says. “He did the chemical work in the lab.”

Bonomo also spent years at the former University of Denver Research Institute.

“He was very personable, very proper,” Amme says. “I never heard him raise his voice. He was well-tempered, very friendly and very modest.”

“What I remember best was the fact that he introduced us to the Bonnie Brae Tavern,” DU chemistry Professor Emeritus Don Stedman says simply.

Bonomo’s wife, Margie, preceded him in death.

He is survived by children Tom, Maripat, Joanne, Catherine and Eileen.

Comments are closed.