The Mazzini Verdi Club honored Paul Ciminello as Man of the Year and Maria Banducci as Woman of the Year at its President’s Ball on Dec. 1. The event took place at the club’s facilities in Franklin Park. (708-366-8435)
The organization submitted the following profiles:
Maria Banducci is loved and admired by all those who come into contact with her. Charming and kind, she is devoted to her family and always takes care of husband, Luigi, and their son and daughter-in law, Simone and Grisell. As a wife and mother, she is the best any woman can be.
Friendly to anyone she meets, Maria is generous, humble and always willing to help those in need. And if all of that weren’t enough, she is also beautiful, both inside and out! To know her is to love her. These are the reasons the Mazzini-Verdi Club chose to present Maria with this singular honor.
Born in Colle Di Compito, municipality of Capannori (Lucca), Maria met Luigi there and got engaged when she was 17 years old and Luigi was 21. After a year, they came to Chicago, where they got married in 1969 at the Mazzini-Verdi Club, then located on Chicago Avenue.
Maria and her husband have travelled extensively, including to China, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, the Bahamas, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, in addition to spending time at their condo on the ocean in Pompano Beach, Florida, for the past 31 years. In the past, they’ve travelled every two years to Italy, several of those years with their son and daughter-in-law.
Maria has held a number of administrative positions at the Mazzini-Verdi Club, including vice president of the Ladies Club. She is always willing and able to lend a hand at the club, brightening events with her sunny disposition and contributing to their success. She is a truly worthy recipient of this exceptional honor.
Paul Ciminello has been a member of the Mazzini-Verdi Club since 1976.
Paul left his home of Campofelice di Roccella in Sicily and arrived in Chicago New Year’s Eve 1955. Over the decades, he built a career as a well-respected and renowned musician, singer, recording artist and all-around entertainer. Among his many accomplishments, Paul played for Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and President Bill Clinton, and with Jimmy Durante, Domenico Modugno, Luciano Tajoli, Nilla Pizzi and Georgio Consolini.
Paul produced his popular radio show, “Italian Melodies,” on WEEF (1430 AM) six days a week for 20 years. He also hosted a program on “Radio Maria” for six years. He is currently broadcasting sports on WEEF on Sunday.
Paul is a board member of many organizations and has received many honors, something he always says he does not deserve. He appears in the documentary “And They Came to Chicago: the Italian-American Legacy” and is profiled in books. He’s most proud of writing the song “Ciminna,” of receiving awards from his hometown and from Mayor Richard M. Daley for exceptional contributions to the City of Chicago, and of being a founder of the Italian Cultural Center’s annual Italian Day Picnic.
Paul met his wife, Cathy, while she was working at Blair Television, and it was love at first sight — a love that has been strong for more than 40 years! Paul and Cathy’s love of traveling has taken them to far-away places, among them Russia, Hong Kong, China, Australia, all over Europe, Mexico and of course many times to Italy.
Paul is often asked to serve as master of ceremonies for various organizations, and he is proud to do it. He has a great sense of humor and loves telling jokes and making up humorous stories to make people laugh. He believes that good food, a laugh or two, and dancing are the keys to a good life.
Because he was so busy with his orchestra during his younger years, he did not have the opportunity to play bocce. But now he immensely enjoys playing with all his good friends at Mazzini-Verdi, even though he admits that many times he loses!
Paul is semi-retired and enjoying life with Cathy and all of the loving nieces, nephews and close friends who are such an important part of his life.