Commemorating DiPlacido’s heart in wake of death



In life, Caroline DiPlacido was a light at Gannon. She cared deeply about everyone, but especially students.

In life, Caroline DiPlacido brought light and kindness to Gannon University. In death, she leaves a void.  

DiPlacido was the project coordinator for the Office of Community and Government Relations at Gannon. She was also a Gannon alum and graduated in 1986, and her children also attended Gannon.  

On a cruise in the Bahamas, DiPlacido was attacked by a shark while snorkeling on Tuesday, Sept. 6.  

In an email to members of the Gannon community, the Rev. Michael Kesicki, associate vice president of University Mission and Ministry, said DiPlacido was a “powerful presence of kindness and friendship.” 

The first time Kesicki met DiPlacido was shortly after she started working at Gannon at a community meeting during which they offered up prayers for an ill colleague. DiPlacido came up to Kesicki, introduced herself and asked what she could do to help.  

“She cared for people, remembered their names and their stories,” Kesicki said. “She checked in on you when she found out that you needed an extra prayer or some extra care. She was warm, kind, generous, thoughtful, and loyal.” 

DiPlacido made others feel at home and special, Kesicki said.  

“No matter how busy one is, nothing is worth more than taking that time to pay attention to what others need and to let them know that you care for them,” Kesicki said. “This is a lesson that she communicated everyday by her example. I’m inspired to be more thoughtful and intentional, especially when I feel like I’m under the burden of a lot of tasks and commitments.  Always, stop for a moment to look someone in the eye, smile at them and listen to them.” 

DiPlacido was also family oriented, Kesicki said.  

“Whenever I stopped by Caroline’s office or passed her in the hall, she always asked about my family, my mom and dad,” Kesicki said. “She loved sharing stories about parents and how special they’ve been for us.” 

She was most inspired by her husband, children, grandchildren, mother, and father. She was most inspired by their well-being.  

“She wanted them to have the capacity for a good and meaningful life filled with the love of family and friends,” Kesicki said. “She’d want to be remembered as someone who loved her family and loved her friends.” 

Kurt Hersch, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and coordinator for the minor of innovation and creativity, said that family was the most important thing to DiPlacido. 

“For as much love as she spread around the world, around her world, around her earth, she had an even more special love for her kids — she adored them,” Hersch said.  

She also deeply cherished her friends. 

“Caroline appreciated the gift of communion, the sharing of life by mutual self-giving, and she gave that spirit of communion to everyone she met,” Kesicki said. “Once you met Caroline, you were no longer a stranger. She related to you as a friend whom she valued.” 

DiPlacido made friends with everyone, Kesicki said.  

“If you spent a few moments with her, you were not a part of her world,” Kesicki said. “She’d remember you, call you by name, ask about you and your loved ones, follow up with an email, card or phone call to let you know that she appreciated you.” 

At work, DiPlacido most loved opportunities to organize events impacting the university and the local community of Our West Bayfront, Kesicki said.  

“She enjoyed being a support to her colleagues so they could be better at their work,” Kesicki said. “Being a part of an engaged team was something she appreciated, and she had incredible energy around special projects that brought people together to celebrate and hope.” 

Hersch said that when dealing with students, DiPlacido was kind yet direct. She had so much love that she couldn’t hold it in, and it extended to everyone around her and the university itself.  

“She was always just trying to make sure that everything we did reflected well on the students,” Hersch said. “She was a really great colleague, but she was an even better friend. She had a lot of love, and it just kind of came out of her pores.” 

DiPlacido truly loved Gannon, and it showed in everything she did here, Hersch said. 

“I’ve never seen someone physically manifest it so much and so directly,” Hersch said.  

Hersch described her as “the heart” of every project she engaged in.  

“When I got to see her and the joy she brought, it just encouraged me to lean even further into that aspect,” Hersch said. “She just loved everyone, and she didn’t hide it. It was so impactful, and it led me to do even more of that. Her capacity to exude love was unparalleled, unmatched.”