Emilio Lopez-Arias, lecturer of modern languages and literatures at Ithaca College, passed away Friday of a sudden heart attack. He was 54.
A Spanish native, Lopez-Arias came to the college in 2009 to join his brother Julio, also a professor at the college. Lopez-Arias lived with his wife, Elena Elinova, in Ithaca.
Michael Richardson, associate professor and chair of modern languages and literatures, described Lopez-Arias as a “tireless educator.”
Lopez-Arias taught beginning and intermediate Spanish courses at the college in the morning, in addition to classes at SUNY-Cortland in the afternoon.
Christopher Gascon, associate professor and chair of the language department at Cortland, said Lopez-Arias will be difficult to replace, since many students consistently took classes with him.
“It wasn’t at all uncommon for students to, once they’ve taken his course, look for him and sign up for his section in a subsequent course,” Gascon said. “He seemed to have that loyal following amongst the students.”
Richardson said Lopez-Arias was a warm, friendly and positive colleague.
“He always struck me as someone who was very concerned about how his students were doing,” he said. “He put a lot of effort into his preparation for his classes.”
Paula Twomey, lecturer of modern languages and literatures, stepped in yesterday to teach Lopez-Arias’ classes.
Lopez-Arias’ death came as a shock to the entire language department. Richardson said he knew Lopez-Arias was diagnosed with cancer over the summer, and the recent heart attack may have been related to a blood clot from the cancer.
“He was really settling into the college and the community and was really looking to become a bigger part of the department,” Richardson said.
A memorial service will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Bangs Funeral Home on Green Street.