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Nov. 2, 1941 – March 13, 2014

Charles J. Sabatino, a popular Daemen College professor, prolific researcher and writer, and a dedicated marathon runner, died unexpectedly in his Amherst home Thursday evening. He was 72.

Mr. Sabatino, who was born in Meriden, Conn., was a graduate of Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University in Baltimore, a master’s degree in theology from Berkeley Divinity School of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. He earned his doctorate in religious studies from the University of Chicago.

He married the former Carol Williams in New Haven, and they moved to Western New York when he accepted a teaching position at Niagara County Community College. He started in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Daemen in 1977. At Daemen, he was instrumental in the creation of the Service Learning program, which requires students to assist the community through volunteer work. He was the author of more than 30 articles that were published in professional journals, and also spoke at conferences.

On the college’s Facebook page, where news of Mr. Sabatino’s death was announced, current and former students and colleagues praised him as a dynamic and caring teacher.

Mr. Sabatino was the co-facilitator of a monthly Cancer Wellness Center support group held on the campus. Family members said that although he expected to be able to share insights into spirituality with cancer patents and their families, he found himself learning from them instead.

A lifelong advocate for those in the community mental health system, Mr. Sabatino worked to rehabilitate sex offenders and also taught inmates at Attica Prison for 36 years as part of the college program of the Consortium of the Niagara Frontier. Mr. Sabatino was a frequent contributor to The Buffalo News’ “Letters to the Editor” column; in his final letter, published Feb. 28, he supported college education for inmates. Mr. Sabatino wrote, “The truth of the matter is that most, perhaps all, will eventually be released from prison. It is best that we try to help those who are willing to come back to the community a better person. I know firsthand that the college program contributes to this possibility.”

“He was a real advocate for people who needed an advocate,” said his daughter-in-law, Kristi.

Mr. Sabatino took up running when he quit smoking at the age of 35, and completed about 45 marathons, including 13 Boston marathons. He was at mile 23 of the 2013 marathon when bombs exploded at the finish line; at the time of his death, he was training to run in Boston again this year.

Besides his wife, of Amherst, he is survived by two sons, Joshua and Jeffrey; three sisters, Pat Krystofolski, Carol Lindia and Anita Dievert; and two grandchildren.

The family will hold a private service, and plans to organize an annual road race in Mr. Sabatino’s memory to raise money for charity.