Alba Jean LaFiandra, age 77, died on October 13th in Saugerties, New York. Born on April 17, 1945 in Brooklyn, to Santina and Philip LaFiandra, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Mount Saint Vincent College in Riverdale, New York.
In 1969, she began work at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in New Jersey, authoring several scientific papers, most relating to the lab’s 7methylG work. Here she began a 50-year working relationship with Dr. Aaron Shatkin, who later became the first director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine in Piscataway, NJ. Alba played a large role in CABM’s design and went on to manage the laboratory. Such were her design/architectural talents that she was frequently consulted regarding the design of major commercial and academic laboratories.
Alba was active in the Saugerties community: she was a long-time member of LifeSpring and served on the board of the Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission. She cared deeply about historical preservation, the Esopus Creek, and recovering local history. She loved going to auctions and returning with historical items that had been overlooked by others. In summers, she could be found sanding and refinishing chairs and other auction finds and returning them to their earlier beauty. Alba was a lover of the arts: she played guitar and violin and was a gifted sculptor.
Books and reading were another passion, and so, too, were her many animal companions, especially Gina, but she reserved her greatest love for her partner of 48 years, Margaret. Alba loved to celebrate with her family: Christmas was her favorite holiday and preferably came with an Italian Christmas Eve. Her family played games at every gathering and Alba took on all challengers at Scrabble and invariably won. A commanding presence, Alba had a sharp intellect and was proud of being the keeper of the family’s history; she passed down much of her wisdom and knowledge to her beloved nephews and nieces.
She is survived by her wife, Margaret, sister-in-law Ann, brother-in-law Leslie, and nephews and nieces Vanessa, Robert, Matthew, Andrew and Alessandra. We hope to celebrate Alba’s life next summer in Mt. Marion. Donations in her memory will be gratefully received by the Saugerties Animal Shelter.