by Leonard F. Amari
As a result of the vision of Anthony J. Fornelli, one of the great men and career leaders and contributors to the improvement of the Italian-American condition in the Chicago area, and other committed folks from our ethnic community, an Italian American Executive Hall of Fame has been established at Casa Italia in Stone Park.
At the initial meeting of this committee in 2007, Chairman Fornelli suggested to committee members Don Bono, Dominic Verlotta, Phyllis Muccianti, Jack LaBrasca, Dominic Sergi, Josette Weber and Leonard Amari, that it would be appropriate to have a place at Casa Italia to honor folks from our community who have distinguished themselves in the commercial and industrial fields. Not to throw a fundraiser gala dinner with an ad book, not to raise money, but to show our pride in the accomplishments of trailblazers in business with our roots.
Mr. Fornelli suggested the mission statement of this committee, the agenda for this program be: “To honor them, to have a place where people could come and see who and what Italian Americans have done over the years, role models, distinguished contributors to the community and society, and those who honored their Italian-American ancestry with remarkable and successful careers in the commercial and industrial fields.”
A veritable Who’s Who converged on the Chandelier Room in the Community Center at Casa Italia for the inaugural ceremony and luncheon on Oct. 30, 2008, and they have every year since. A plaque containing a brief career history hangs with portraits by renowned artist and committee member Don Bono of all of the inductees. Those charter inductees were Amadeo Pietro Giannini, Patrick H. Arbor, Richard P. Parrillo Sr. and Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca. These four individuals certainly deserved induction based upon their extraordinary and well-known careers, leadership, success and contributions in commerce and industry.
The following year’s inductees — Paul Davies, Gildo Mazzolin, Jerry Colangelo and Salvatore A. Balsamo — all giants in commerce and industry, were honored at another successful induction ceremony and luncheon on Oct, 16, 2009. Their portraits by Don Bono, along with the previous and future honorees, will continue to hang at Casa Italia in Stone Park, the 17-acre home of the Italian-American community in the Chicago area.
The 2010 recipients of this truly deserved recognition were C.A. “Bud” Cataldo and committee member Phyllis Muccianti. This year’s truly deserving inductees are Nello V. Ferrara and, posthumously, Mariano Turano.
NELLO V. FERRARA
Nello V. Ferrara is the chairman of the board of Ferrara Pan Candy Co. in Forest Park. The company was founded by his father, Salvatore Ferrara, in 1908.
Completing his education in 1942, when he graduated from DePaul University Law School with a doctorate of juris prudence, Nello subsequently became a member of the Illinois Bar.
He served his country from 1942 to 1946 in the Counter Intelligence Corps of the U.S. Army, assigned to the pretrial work of the Japanese War Crimes Trial in Japan.
Upon his return from service in the Army, he resumed an active role in the family-owned candy business, manufacturing panned candy exclusively. His associates and colleagues have long recognized his dedication to the candy world. He has always been an extremely active and enthusiastic member of confectionary trade organizations, devoting many hours to the interests of the candy industry.
He was elected to the board of directors of the National Confectioners Association for six years, followed by a stint as vice president and then two terms as president.
Nello Ferrara’s devoted efforts and agile, inventive mind have accomplished miracles in every field of endeavor: business, civic and fraternal, bringing success to those projects that inspired his interest.
Nello and his wife Marilyn are parents of three children, Sarajean Alioto, Salvatore II and Nella Davy. They have eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Mariano Turano was the founder of the Turano Baking Co. Born in Cosenza, Italy, in 1912, Mariano built what is known today as one of the largest ethnic bakeries in the United States.
Growing up in Italy, Mariano served in the Italian army, where he became a prisoner of the Germans during World War II. After the war, while living in Italy, Mariano and his wife, Assunta, had their first child, Renato, followed by Umberto (Tony) and Giancarlo.
Working as an espresso salesman in Italy after the war, Mariano moved to Chicago in 1955 to pursue the American Dream. Like many Italian immigrants of his time, he found himself working multiple jobs and long hours to support his family. Mariano worked sewer construction jobs during the day, but his true passion was baking.
Mariano spent his free time in the bakery of his brother’s West Side grocery store, where he recreated the Calabrian bread he loved so much. Prior to opening his own bakery, Mariano would bake bread and deliver it to friends and relatives as gifts.
As the demand for his wonderful bread grew, he began baking full time. In 1958, with a steady income and the ability to provide for his family, he brought his wife and three sons to America.
In 1962, Mariano opened Campagna Bakery in Chicago, in a space that occupied only 600 square feet. Within a few years, Mariano required more space to keep up with the increasing demand for his bread. Then, in 1965, he purchased a building in Berwyn nearly five times the size of the original plant, which the company continues to use today.
Through perseverance, hard work and a devotion to producing only the highest quality products, Mariano turned his passion for making bread into the largest ethnic baking company in the country.
Today, Turano Baking Co. rests in the capable hands of his sons Renato, Tony and Giancarlo, three outstanding leaders and contributing members of our community, in their own right. Turano Baking Co. employs more than 800 employees with plants in four states.