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Ciminnesi to honor Antonino Napoli

Società SS. Crocifisso & San Giovanni Bosco di Ciminna (Chicago) will honor Antonino Napoli as Man of the Year at its dinner dance on March 3 at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison. A longtime luminary of the Chicago-area Italian-American community, Napoli has been a driving force among local Ciminnesi for decades. “Tony has been a pillar of our community for nearly 60 years,” says society President Frank Faraci. “We’re so proud to be able to shine the spotlight on him.” Napoli accepted the honor with trademark humility. “There are so many people who are worthier than me but they insisted, ...

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Modern Magellan Francesco Cappelletti

With only himself for company and a sexton as his guide, he will compete to be the first of two dozen sailors to sail around the world without making landfall. Francesco Cappelletti is the only Italian skipper among a group of hardcore, adventurous purists who’ve signed up to sail 30,000 solo miles around the globe in a race devoid of modern technology. The 2018 Golden Globe Race will take place on the 50th anniversary of the first solo, nonstop circumnavigation done by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston during the Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race in 1968. The 2018 race starts July ...

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Military historian Peter Belmonte

By bringing stories of Calabrian-American bravery to light, he is adding chapters to our history that would otherwise have been lost. The saying “history is written by the winners” typically applies to military forces that dominate and subjugate, but one person has turned that notion on its head in the most positive sense. In his painstaking research into long gone Calabrian-American veterans, Peter Belmonte has achieved a victory for scores of humble heroes whose stories would otherwise have been lost in the trenches of World War I. Why do this? It helps that Belmonte is a retired U.S. Air Force ...

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Army NCO CJ Martello (Vietnam)

As NCO on an artillery base camp in the central highlands of Vietnam, he was responsible for keeping his squad on task and safe in the face of frequent enemy attacks. Costante James “CJ” Martello was born in Chicago’s Roseland Community Hospital. He was one of 12 children born to Angelina and August Martello, four of whom passed away before Martello’s birth. His parents were from the Veneto region of Italy and immigrated to Chicago to be near relatives and paesani. Martello grew up in the tightly knit Italian community of Roseland, where his father made salami in the basement ...

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Fly fisher Joan Salvato Wulff

A fly fisher for more than eight decades, she literally helped define the sport while opening the door for other women to enter it. Ninety-one-year-old Joan Salvato Wulff, the “First Lady of Fly Fishing,” says that even after all these decades, she never fails to feel a jolt of life every time she casts into the water. “Fly fishing puts you in touch with the natural world,” she says. “Everything we do is in tune with that.” Salvato Wulff is a proud inductee of both the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame and the American Casting Association Hall of ...

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OSIA President Vera Girolami

As the second female president of the recently renamed Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, she taps into a long history of volunteer leadership. Honoring tradition while staying open to unprecedented change is one very tough balancing act. It takes a strong, sure-handed leader to make it work. Enter Vera Girolami, who became national president of the recently renamed Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America in August after serving for more than a decade in other executive roles. By the way, she’s only the second female president in the 112-year history of the organization, which added ...

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Navy Lt. Cdr. Paul Rubino (Vietnam)

A surgeon serving in Vietnam, he still vividly recalls a four-day stretch during which he and his team toiled to save the lives of a couple dozen severely wounded Marines. Paul Rubino was born in Bitritto, a small town near Bari, Italy. When he was 12 years old, he and his mother, Domenica, immigrated to Chicago where his father, Vincenzo, had been working as a candy maker. The family settled into a third-floor apartment on Grand Avenue and May Street, above Taccogna Foods, now known as Bari Finer Foods. The close-knit neighborhood was largely Italian, many from Bari. Everyone looked ...

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Marine SSgt E5 Diana Fecarotta (Vietnam)

Choosing between the Peace Corps and the Marines during the Vietnam War, she made a decision that had a profound positive impact on the rest of her life. The oldest of four children, Diana Frances Fecarotta was born in Chicago and grew up in the heavily Italian neighborhood known as “The Patch” near Grand and Ogden avenues. Her parents, Joseph Gerris and Francesca Mary (Lombardino) Fecarotta, were born in Chicago and both sets of grandparents emigrated from Sicily. The family lived in a six-flat owned by Fecarotta’s maternal grandparents. Her mother had three sisters who lived either in the building ...

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Air Force 1st Lt. Vincent Allegrini (WW II)

Trained to fight in the deserts of North Africa during World War II, he earned the coveted Air Medal while organizing and overseeing a mission to bring desperately needed supplies to embattled troops in the jungles of the South Pacific. Editor’s Note: The following profile was assembled from the diaries of Vincent Allegrini, interviews with his son Robert, and the official history of the 33rd Infantry Division. Allegrini’s uniform and decorations can be found at the Italian American War Veterans Museum at Casa Italia. In late December of 1944, units of the Army’s fabled 33rd Golden Cross Division, comprised primarily ...

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President of Italy knights Serpico

Tireless community leader Jo Ann Serpico joined the ranks of the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia at a special ceremony at the Italian Consulate in Chicago on Dec. 11. The honor was bestowed by Consul General Giuseppe Finocchiaro on behalf of Italian President Sergio Mattarella. “My parents [Joseph R. and Ella (Cataldo) Salerno] were born in America yet instilled a love of our Italian heritage in their daughters,” Jo Ann explains. “I am honored that Senatore Renato Turano and Commendatore Dominic Di Frisco support my position in the community, and I’m extremely honored that the president of Italy deems me ...

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