Published in the January 22, 2016 edition

BOSTON — David Bianco passed away Jan. 11 from complications of a medical incident incurred while enjoying two of his favorite activities: Traveling in Italy and sharing the experience with fellow Road Scholar adventurers.

He was born in 1939 in East Boston to Nicholas and Phyllis (Staffier) Bianco. He attended the University of Michigan, earned a BA from Eastern Michigan University, an EdM from Boston University and received an Honorary PhD from Southern Vermont College. He also served in the U.S. Navy on the USS Independence as a radar operator and participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis shortly before his honorable discharge.

His lifelong dedication to education and lifelong learning began as a history teacher at Adrian High School in Adrian, Mich. and, after a return to Boston, continued as a residence director at Boston University. He was also the director of residential life at Brandeis University and at the University of New Hampshire. He was also Manager of Thompson Island in Boston Harbor and Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill.

While at the University of New Hampshire, with long-time friend, Martin Knowlton, he co-founded Elderhostel (now called Road Scholar), which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. The program, initially involving five New Hampshire colleges, has grown to become an international educational travel and, often, life-changing experience for more than four million participants. The program has revolutionized the world’s view of older Americans and older Americans’ view of themselves.

Some years later, after a move to Ventura, Calif., he and Marty managed a new organization offering Road Scholar adventures in California and Nevada. Upon retirement in 2005, David served on the boards of many not-for-profit organizations including the Rotary Club of Ventura, the EP Foster Library Fund and the Ventura College Foundation. He served the college in various leadership roles including as past chair, as well as personally funding multiple endowed scholarships and leading efforts to support returning veteran students at Ventura College.

He is survived by his former wife Sandra Mitchell. He is also survived by his daughter Nicole Bianco of York Harbor, Maine; his son David M. Bianco and his wife Elizabeth Gilgan Bianco, and grandchildren Nicholas and Isabella of Melrose. He is also survived by his sister Carol Caradonna of Medford; brothers Joseph Bianco and partner Merrith Sayre of Tuscon, Ariz.; William Capobianco of Saline, Mich. and Richard Bianco of Orlando, Fla. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of cherished friends across the country and overseas.

Celebrations of remembrance and a life well-lived will be held in Boston and Ventura. As stated by the Road Scholar organization, David will be remembered as “a loyal and passionate, ironic, creative, funny, articulate and brilliant man who will be missed by all who knew and loved him.”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in David’s honor to the Road Scholar Founders’ Fund (online at; the Ventura College Promise Grant in care of Ventura College Foundation, 4667 Telegraph Rd., Ventura CA 93003 (online at; or the Julius Gius Memorial Foundation, c/o Rotary Club of Ventura, PO Box 2100, Ventura CA 93002.