July 5, 1992, Sunday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section 1; Page 26; Column 2; Metropolitan Desk
LENGTH: 143 words
HEADLINE: Stephen A. Peduto, Law Student, 36
Stephen A. Peduto, who astonished his fellow students in the
graduating class of New York Law School last month by saying
he had AIDS, died on Wednesday at Cabrini Medical Center in
Manhattan. He was 36 years old and lived in Jersey City.
He died of pneumonia and other AIDS-related complications,
according to a friend, William Diskin.
A graduate of the University of Chicago, Mr. Peduto was doing
graduate work at Columbia University when he was diagnosed
with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, in 1983. He entered
law school in 1988 and, in addressing the graduating class,
said he had been battling AIDS since then but was determined
to get his law degree.
Mr. Peduto is survived by his parents, Anthony and Susan Peduto
of Belmar, N.J., and a sister, Nicoletta Ferraiola of Manasquan,
N.J. His companion was Richard Skinner of Jersey City.
A month ago, Stephen A. Peduto stunned fellow graduates at
New York Law School by telling them in a brief but moving
speech that he had been battling AIDS for as many years as
he had been studying law.
"Here I am," the 36-year-old top student told the
audience that included his parents, "living proof that
people with AIDS can live and achieve their goals and not
just die of the disease."
On Wednesday night, just four weeks after the graduation ceremonies,
Peduto died at the Cabrini Medical Center of pneumonia and
other complications related to AIDS, friends and hospital
"He went back to the hospital on June 20, and was very
anemic and his systems were starting to shut down," said
William Diskin, a friend of Peduto's from the University of
Chicago, where both were undergraduates.
After his speech to the law school's 430 graduates, Peduto
said he learned that he was HIV-positive in 1983, after he
volunteered for a study by St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center
while a student at Columbia University.
The news left him "like a zombie" for a couple of
weeks. "But then I thought, we all die anyway, and I
thought that I would try to accomplish what I can," he
said. "That's been my attitude since day one."
Peduto worked as a computer engineer at an aeronautics company
in Teterboro, N.J., and volunteered with the Hyacinth Foundation
to help people with AIDS by shopping for them and helping
them around the house.
But, he said, he felt frustrated by the work, and wanted to
do something more to help those with the disease.
He enrolled at New York Law School in the fall of 1988, and
two weeks later was diagnosed with AIDS. Symptoms rapidly
accumulated, as did his academic honors at school, where he
achieved a near-perfect record and won the accolades of the
Peduto finished his studies in January, and passed the bar
in New York and New Jersey this past spring. But he was left
half-blind and severely hobbled by his ailments, and spent
the weeks before graduation at Cabrini.
"I told the doctors that, by hell or high water, I was
going to be there, even if I had to check myself out in the
morning and return that night," Peduto said.
Funeral services are tentatively scheduled for Monday at the
Leber Funeral Home, 2000 Kennedy Blvd. in Union City, N.J.
Newsday photo by Ozier Muhammad- Stephen A. Peduto during
his graduation last month from New York Law School. He graduated
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 92 08:38 EDT
THE "AN INSPIRATION TO US ALL" AWARD
Graduation speaker Sandra Day O'Conner was eclipsed 11 June
when Stephen Peduto, a New York Law School graduate, riveted
the audience when he limped to the podium to deliver brief
remarks. "Here I am, living proof that people with AIDS
can live and achieve their goals and not just die of the disease,"
said Peduto, who, depsite almost four years of living with
AIDS, graduated at the top of his class. He told his peers,
"In our society, lawyers are also asked to be advocates
for justice. Remember this obligation. Remember those who
need your help to live and achieve." Peduto's announcement
surprised most of his 129 fellow graduates, as well as his
72-year-old father, with whom he had never discussed his condition.