The Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia is proud to honor local legal titan Louis C. Cairo as Man of the Year at its 45th annual dinner dance. The event will take place on April 11 at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison.
Louis is a senior partner at the GWC Law Firm: Chicago’s largest personal injury and workers’ compensation firm. Growing up as the son of an Italian immigrant who owned a union construction company in Northern Illinois, Louis acquired considerable experience with and respect for the men and women working in the construction industry. His close family upbringing has played a significant role in developing Louis’ reputation as a compassionate, aggressive trial lawyer in the representation of severely injured individuals, and families suffering from the loss of a loved one in wrongful death cases.
Louis graduated from Marquette University with a Business Degree and then received his law degree at Loyola University School of Law in Chicago in 1983.
He is a distinguished member of the Board of Managers and Executive Committee of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Board of Directors of the Society of Trial Lawyers, Justinian Society of Italian Lawyers, American Association for Justice, Chicago Bar Association and Illinois State Bar Association.
His list of accomplishments and accreditations include:
• Regular recognition as a Leading Lawyers and a Super Lawyer
• Italian American Labor Council Person of the Year Award
• Order Sons of Italy in America Leonardo da Vinci Award of Excellence in the Law
• Italian American Executives of Transportation Man of the Year Award
• Italian Cultural Center’s 2015 Man of the Year Award
Louis has lectured extensively to attorneys through the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and speaks regularly to members of the building trades concerning their legal rights. He is regularly invited to lecture at national conferences of lawyers from across the country.
His experience as a personal injury trial lawyer includes numerous record-breaking verdicts and settlements for individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries or death as a result of the negligence of others. His areas of expertise include construction litigation accidents, transportation catastrophes and all types of accident cases involving traumatic brain injuries and other forms of debilitating injuries and death.
Louis has fought some of the biggest insurance companies and most powerful contractors and corporations in the country on behalf of his clients. He prides himself, and his law firm, on being the champion for the little guy, representing the individuals who have been wronged by big contractors, trucking industry giants and large corporate wrongdoers.
Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation are among the many charities that benefit from Louis’ generosity. When not practicing law or raising funds for worthy causes, Louis spends his time with his wife and three adult children and participates in all types of upland game hunting and big game safaris throughout the world.
For details, call 708-345-5933, Ext. 2, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.casaitaliachicago.org.
Why I support Casa Italia
by Louis C. Cairo
Americans have many qualities that make our nation great: our can-do spirit, our courage in the face of adversity, our unwavering integrity, our devotion to family, our tireless work ethic, our incredible sense of patriotism and, last but not least, our rich cultural diversity. In fact, you could argue that America derives much of its strength from our diverse ethnic roots.
Generation after generation of immigrants has come to these shores, braving untold challenges in pursuit of a better life for their families. In the process, they have laid down a firm foundation, rich with traditions, upon which this country was built. In my case, those roots reach back to Calabria, where my father worked as a farmhand before moving to Chicago at 18 years of age, and Sicily, where my mother’s grandparents were born.
Pretty much every Sunday before I went to college followed the same routine. We would go to my Nana Maria on the South Side, where we would feast on homemade pasta with rich sugo, then on to my Granma Mary on the North Side for fruit and desserts, and then home to the suburbs late in the evening.
The noise from the kitchen at Nana’s house was deafening as all the ladies helped to prepare the meals. My cousins and I would do our part to rid the huge pot on the stove of the overabundance of homemade lamb and beef meatballs that my Nana always made. Those Sunday dinners, and so many others since the passing of my grandparents, were filled with love, laughter and wonderful Italian food.
My non-Italian friends, regardless of their heritage, always chose my house as THE place to hang. They loved the food, the laughter, the freewheeling conversations and, mostly, my parents. Both have been exceptional influences on my life and those of my friends, especially my beautiful mother. She has a way of making everyone feel tall, beautiful, important and so special. My best friend from high school still calls her “Mom,” and I know that I am the luckiest son in the world to be able to call her “Mom,” too.
My parents always had an open door policy, constantly inviting people that my sister and I considered strangers to join the family for dinner. Guests loved hearing my father tell stories about “the old country.” And, man, does he still have great stories. Because at 85 years old, he is as sharp as a tack, quick with a funny comment, and one of the most engaging personalities I have ever encountered. My wife and I are so lucky to have them in our lives. The same goes for my wonderful in-laws, who are also Italian.
When I first stepped onto the grounds of Casa Italia, I felt that I had found my home away from home, a feeling I’m sure countless other Italian Americans share.
Nestled among 17 wooded acres in Stone Park are all the resources that our Italian-American community needs to stay in touch with each other and our heritage.
The Cultural Center houses a treasure trove of books, exhibits and artwork, and it hosts a wide range of adult and children’s language classes on site and across the Chicago area. The Festival Center is the perfect staging ground for special events of all kinds, including parties, picnics, concerts and our beloved patron saint festivals.
You can enjoy Italian film screenings and regional cooking classes in the Community Center. Lunch and dinner are served daily at a fabulous restaurant on the grounds called Nonna Graziella. And the Office Center and Chapel are a beehive of activity where clubs conduct their business, religious groups hold their retreats, the elderly receive help with their Italian pensions, and families honor their departed.
And like my family, the Casa has extended its reach well beyond the Italian-American community. Just ask the Mexican-American teen who celebrated her quinceañera in the Festival Center, the Christian couple from the Malabar region of India who grew in love and faith at a pre-canna retreat in the Office Center, the Irish-American veteran whose memorabilia is proudly displayed in our veterans museum, the German-American police officer who learned crucial law enforcement skills at a seminar in the Community Center or the Jewish-American senior who brushed up on his Italian language skills at the Cultural Center.
And then there’s Chelsea, a 14-year-old Hispanic girl who had the time of her life at Casa Italia’s Italian-language summer camp for kids a couple of years ago. “I was overwhelmed at how amazing this camp truly was,” she wrote in her letter of thanks afterward. “When camp ended, I ended up crying when I got home. Saying goodbye was the hardest part for me. I felt like Casa Italia was my real home. I am not Italian (although I wish).”
Everybody feels at home at Casa Italia. That’s why I’m so proud to be a supporter and even prouder to be their 2015 Man of the Year.
I invite all of my friends and colleagues and the entire Italian-American community to buy their dinner tickets, raffle tickets, ads and sponsorships and join our celebration in support of this remarkable institution on April 11 at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison.