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Carmen Salerno takes the lead at Flowers of Italy

Carmen Salerno is in the middle of a two-year term as president of the Flowers of Italy Club in Melrose Park. A member since 2013, Salerno served as secretary before being elected to the top spot last year. “It’s awesome to be in charge of an organization that’s been around for so long and done so much for the community,” Salerno says. His parents, Achille and Gilda (Perri) Salerno, moved to Melrose Park from Calabria in the 1970s, and his father was an early member of the club. “I joined to follow in my dad’s footsteps and continue the club’s ...

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Marine gunner Giovanni Insolia (Vietnam)

Persuaded by a smooth-talking recruiter to join the Marines during the height of the Vietnam War, Giovanni Insolia survived an endless round of helicopter assaults and enemy ambushes as a member of the ill-fated Foxtrot Company. Giovanni Insolia grew up in Solarino, a small Sicilian town in the province of Siracusa. One of six children born to Paolo and Sebastiana Teodoro Insolia, he was surrounded by extended family throughout his childhood. Insolia’s father made very little money as the town barber, in most cases receiving goods like wheat in exchange for his services. When his family emigrated to Chicago under ...

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Chicago Fire owner Joe Mansueto

An American entrepreneur with deep Italian roots, Joe Mansueto is bringing the indomitable spirit of his ancestors to bear on his latest challenge: the transformation of Chicago’s Major League Soccer team. Local billionaire Joe Mansueto made headlines last September when he bought the Chicago Fire, and the dramatic changes he has made to the city’s Major League Soccer team have kept them both in the news ever since. This may seem like the latest chapter in a great American success story that began when Mr. Mansueto attended the University of Chicago and continued when he built a major investment firm ...

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Volleyball standout Rachel Giustino

Relatively short for an outsider hitter, Rachel Giustino excelled at collegiate volleyball through a combination of power, finesse and athleticism. In volleyball, being taller does give a player an advantage — something Rachel Giustino readily admits. Height is almost a prerequisite if a female high school player hopes to catch the eye of a major university. “Normally, big schools won’t recruit anyone under 6 foot,” says Giustino, who’s listed at 5-10. But that didn’t deter David Schwepker, head volleyball coach at Murray State University in Kentucky. From the get-go, Schwepker set his sights on Giustino, who helped lead Marian Central ...

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Army cameraman Gino Bartucci (Vietnam)

Born in Italy and trained by the Army as a cameraman, Gino Bartucci toured the country photographing atomic bombs, filming bombers flying overhead and helping create documentaries. Gino Bartucci was born in Malvitani di Rende, a small village in Calabria. Of the nine children born to Vincenzo and Maria Carmella (Pisello) Bartucci, six survived infancy. The family farm provided almost everything they needed. “We didn’t have to buy anything but salt, sugar … that’s about it,” Bartucci says. He attended a one-room school with about a dozen students. In 1955, Bartucci’s father immigrated to Chicago, bringing one son and his ...

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Luthier Joseph Yanuziello

A native of Toronto, Joseph Yanuziello is the master craftsman behind some of the world’s most sought-after guitars. In the boutique guitar marketplace, where instruments routinely command $5,000 or more, Joseph Yanuziello’s instruments have become so popular you might think his company’s motto is “sold out.” As fast as he can build his stunning instruments — which draw universal raves for their sound, look and feel — they’re gone. Working from a shop outside his native Toronto, Yanuziello builds stringed instruments that reflect a singular vision. While so many companies outsource parts from overseas, he builds his own. While many ...

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Making a difference in Melrose Park

Mayor Ronald Serpico        Ron Serpico’s roots run deep into the soil of Melrose Park. His paternal grandparents moved to the near western suburb from Italy more than a century ago, his dad was born there, and his mom moved there with her family when she was an infant. Ralph “Babe” Serpico and Josephine Luzzi were married at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and raised four boys in the community. Ron and his wife, Donna, followed suit, raising three kids of their own. By the ’80s, Ron was surrounded by nearly four dozen extended family members. “It was great growing ...

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TV star Jeremy Sisto

Best known as the pencil-wielding team leader on the CBS hit drama “FBI,” Jeremy Sisto has steadily built an impressive acting resume thanks to a devotion to the sorts of details that bring his characters to life. Telly Savalas had his lollipops. Peter Falk had his trench coat. And Jeremy Sisto has his pencil. Appearing on the hit CBS drama “FBI,” now in its second season, Sisto’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine commands an elite team of investigators in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York field office, and he does it all while spinning, chewing and pointing ...

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Castanza to serve as chairman of Casa Italia

Angelo Castanza has been elected by the board of directors to chair Casa Italia for a two-year term. Joining him as fellow officers are Jo Ann Serpico as vice chairman, Cathy Lange as treasurer and Paul Basile as secretary. A past president of the Calabresi in America Organization, Castanza has been a member of the board since 2014 and served as vice chairman from 2018 to 2020. “I was assigned to the board as president of the Calabresi in America and decided to maintain my membership after my term was up, because I like the vision that the Casa represents,” ...

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Renato Bacci to preside over veterans museum

Retired Army Col. Renato Bacci has been elected by the board of directors to helm the Italian American Veterans Museum. Joining him as officers are retired Navy Commander Joseph Troiani as first vice president, retired Army Maj. Lorenzo Fiorentino as second vice president, Army veteran Mark DiSanto third vice president, Steve Corbo as treasurer, Eugene Giudice as parliamentarian and Paul Basile as corporate secretary and executive vice president. The officers were installed by community leader Joanne Spata. During his 30-year military career, Bacci served as an infantry, armor, and civil affairs officer, with tours of duty in Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, ...

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