Celebrating its 92nd Annual Columbus Banquet, the Grand Lodge of Illinois/Wisconsin, Order Sons of Italy in America hosted the event at Villa Brunetti, Franklin Park, Illinois on October 8, 2016.
Maria Mancini, Columbus Banquet Chair, welcomed the guests and introduced the Master of Ceremony for the evening, the Honorable Anthony Caldarone, Mayor of Forest Park, Illinois. The MC introduced the Grand Lodge Officers, our honored award recipients, the Consul General of Italy, and the Columbus Day Queen as they entered the hall.
Highlighting the evening were the presentations of the 2016 Humanitarian Award and the Columbus Patriot Award. In addition the Illinois Sons of Italy Foundation awarded eight scholarships to Italian-American students who are continuing their education.
Receiving the Humanitarian Award was Illinois State Representative John C. D’Amico. He has faithfully served the 15th District since 2004. He has made strengthening safety for Illinois drivers and residents a top priority. Representative D’Amico successfully passed legislation prohibiting drivers from using hand-held electronic devises in a hands-free or voice operated mode. Because of his efforts, Illinois s now ranked one of the top states in the nation for drivers’ safety laws. As a state representative, he has led efforts to prohibit texting while driving, and has worked with Secretary of State Jessie White to institute a graduated driver’s license program to make sure new drivers have the proper training and supervision before obtaining their licenses.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Renato (Ron) Bacci was presented with the 2016 Columbus Patriot Award. Col. Bacci received his commission in 1969 through the ROTC program at Loyola University in Chicago. He spent over 30 years in the Army Reserve. His active duty tours in the Army included Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. A former senior vice president of ABN AMRO Services Company (LaSalle Bank Corp), he currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Dominican University – Brennan School of Business in River Forest, Illinois. Col. Bacci currently serves as chair of the Illinois Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, directing the activities of 105 volunteers and managing three full time staff. ESGR promotes a cooperative culture of employer support for National Guard and Reserve service.
In presenting the awards, Grand Lodge President Marie Marsalli, stated, “Both gentlemen truly deserve being honored by OSIA and demonstrate their true love and passion for their Italian heritage and culture in their daily lives. They serve their community and country with pride, respect and dignity.”
Receiving the Leone d’Oro Lodge #2700 scholarship was Jonluke Bertacchi Passett, son of Douglas & Lynne Passett; Mary C. Glorioso, daughter of Mauro & Pearl Glorioso received the Honorable Ronald Serpico scholarship; Sara Grace Bast, daughter of Steven & Mary Bast received the Joe Rizza Ford-Porsche of Orland Park scholarship; Annamaria Durante, daughter of Mike & Marianna Durante received the Americo Vespucci Lodge #1722 scholarship; Angelina Gervasio, daughter of Emilio & Francesca Gervasio received the Southwest Lodge #2558 scholarship; Dario Panici, son of Giovanni & Rosara Panici received the Chicago Heights Lodge #1430 scholarship; Leah DiMaggio, daughter of Joseph & Mary DiMaggio received the Mike and Chris Manno scholarship from the Filippo Mazzei Greater Milwaukee Lodge #2763; and Jeremy Tyler Luczak, son of Kimberly Ann Luczak received the Salvatore B. Purpero and Frank Giuffre scholarship.
Attending the festivities were Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Consul General of Italy, Jaclyn Puccini, Columbus Queen, Rev. John Belmonte, OSIA Chaplain, Grand Lodge Council offices, lodge presidents and members from the filial lodges.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by Nino Folino. Mr. Folino’s performance of the American and Italian Anthems was outstanding.
Photos by Tim Townsend