I found this guy to be an interesting choice for coverage in a newspaper focused on business. Usually the obituaries in the WSJ are about people who influenced the economy. So how did Professor Forni influence the economy through the study of Italian literature?
He was a determined advocate for civility, which influences not just the economy, but broader society. This interest emerged from study of sixteenth century courtly conduct. Students are a captive audience, and in my experience, can always benefit from straight talk about courtly conduct.
The obituary quotes him as saying,
I wanted [my students] to be kind human beings more than I wanted them to know about Dante.
I’m glad I got to meet P. M. Forni on the pages of the WSJ. A quintessential academic, seeing the broad connections between his lifelong specialization and the world around us. And a nice guy.