CU Establishes the C.P. Mercadante Endowed Scholarship With $30,000 Gift
When C.P. Mercadante immigrated to the United States from his native Italy in 1922 to join the family patriarch, he was embarking on a new life. He was 6 years old, spoke no English and had no way of knowing that almost 90 years later, his success in achieving the “American Dream” would result in an endowed scholarship at Cameron University. Mercadante, who passed away in 1990, has been so honored thanks to a $30,000 gift to the Cameron University Foundation from his son, Lawton resident John Mercadante. The gift will be used to establish the C.P. Mercadante Endowed Scholarship.
“International students enrich our campus, and many struggle financially,” says Cameron President Cindy Ross. “This scholarship affords them additional opportunities. The establishment of the C.P. Mercadante Endowed Scholarship is a significant gift and a most appropriate way for John to honor his dad.”
“My father loved this community,” says John Mercadante. “From his first visit in 1953, he was struck by the friendliness of the people of Lawton. He believed in giving back to the community that had so graciously welcomed him. Because Cameron provides a great education to so many international students, welcoming them much the same way my father was welcomed to this community and preparing them for success in the business world, I am happy to provide this gift for an endowed scholarship in his honor.”
C.P. Mercadante was born in Casale di Principe, Italy. The family settled in Amsterdam, N.Y.. C.P dropped out of school at the age of 14 to help support his family three years after his father died. In 1942, he enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps and attained the rank of sergeant before his discharge in 1946. In 1953, he and his wife, Helen, visited his sister and her husband, Rose and John Bianco, in Lawton. They relocated to Oklahoma that same year to join Rose and John in the operation of Bianco’s Italian Restaurant. In 1956, Mercadante opened Dante’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Lawton; Dante’s Pizza Village followed in 1960. Mercadante became a respected Lawton community leader and highly successful businessman, signaling that anything is possible through hard work.
By 1976, after developing an interest in stained glass, he purchased Lawton Glass and Mirror, which was operated by the Mercadante family for many years after his death. His business interests also included the Renaissance Stained Glass Studio and Gore Plaza. He developed the latter with partner Ray DelVecchio.
C.P. Mercadante’s dedication to his community was evidenced by his service on the boards of Lawton Community Theatre, Lawton-Fort Sill Arts Council, the American Red Cross and the Lawton Philharmonic Society. In 1969, he was appointed by Lawton Mayor Wayne Gilley as one of the original 11 trustees of the newly formed Arts and Humanities Trust.
Eligibility for the C.P. Mercadante Endowed Scholarship is based on several factors. Priority will be given to foreign-born students who are incoming freshmen and who are pursuing a degree from the Cameron University School of Business.