Società San Giovanni Bosco SS. Crocifisso di Ciminna honored Vito P. Cali as Man of the Year at its dinner dance on March 5 at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison. A longtime leader of the Chicago-area Italian American community and standout agent for State Farm Insurance, Cali served as the society’s first president.
“We’re honoring Vito because of his contributions to our society and because of his accomplishments both professionally and within the community,” says society President Tony Napoli.
The son of Filippo and Vita Maria (Campagna) Cali, Vito was born in Ciminna, Sicily, and came to America with his family when he was 9 years old. He grew up in the St. Philip Benizi Parish on the Near North Side, meeting his future wife, LeeAnn, during his teen years.
After graduating from Lane Tech High School, he attended DePaul University, where he majored in marketing and served as the president of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Delta.
Soon afterward, he was approached by Salvatore Miceli to help him found and lead a new society organized by local Ciminnesi in honor of San Giovanni Bosco.
“Vito was young and energetic with strong ties to both Italy and America and a great passion for his hometown of Ciminna,” Napoli explains. “He was the perfect first president of our society.”
“Those were exciting times,” Vito recalls. “We held picnics and dances and Christmas parties and we made sure that any paesan who needed help received it.”
Vito served as president from 1960 to 1981, and currently serves as president emeritus of the society.
“Being named Man of the Year is a tremendous honor for me,” Vito says. “I was there from the very beginning, and I’m proud to be able to share this occasion with the society more than half a century later.”
Vito has dedicated most of his life to working on behalf of the Italian American community. He is the chairman of the board of the Italian American Executives of Transportation Charitable Foundation, a past president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans and a past chairman of the Italo American Soccer Club “Maroons.”
In 2002, Vito was honored as Man of the Year by the Italian American Executives of Transportation and continues to serve as a member of the advisory board. He was also honored as Man of the Year by the Maroons. In 2003, then Cook County Board President John Stroger Jr. honored Vito as an Italian American Community Leader. He was the recipient of the Cardinal Bernardin Humanitarian of the Year Award from the JCCIA in 2005 and the Leonardo Da Vinci Award from the Illinois Grand Lodge of the Order Sons of Italy in America for outstanding achievement in community leadership in 2009.
Vito is currently president of Vito P. Cali Insurance Agency, representing State Farm Insurance Companies. Of the many awards he has received from State Farm, two of the most treasured include being inducted into the State Farm Hall of Fame for life insurance sales in 1981 as well as being a member of the elite Lifetime Presidents Club.
Vito and LeeAnn have been married for 54 years. They have three children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
LeeAnn is the chief administrator of The Vintage on the Ponds assisted care and nursing facility. Their oldest daughter, Vicki, oversees the daily operations at the facility. Their other daughter, Joni, is a defense attorney for State Farm Insurance Companies and their son, Phillip, is a State Farm agent in the southwest suburbs.