IAET salutes worthy trio

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Frank Grimaldi Jr., Anthony Ambrose and Anthony Pucillo

The Italian American Executives of Transportation honored a trio of luminaries at its dinner dance on Nov. 20 at Ashton Place in Willowbrook. Frank Grimaldi hailed as Man of the Year at the event, and Anthony Ambrose and Anthony Pucillo was honored as Humanitarians of the Year.  (iaet-chicago.org, 708-212-1051)

The following profiles were provided by the organization:

Frank Grimaldi Jr., A.A.E.

Frank Grimaldi Jr. has faithfully served the Chicago airport community for nearly 40 years in senior Airfield Operations and Design and Construction capacities. He has more than 21 years of airfield operations experience and 18 years managing the design and construction of capital projects for O’Hare and Midway International Airports.

Frank’s parents, Frank Sr. and Lidia, hailed from a small town about 40 miles outside of Rome called Isola del Liri. They immigrated in 1950 and settled in Chicago, living in the Little Italy area where Frank’s first home was. In the early 1960s, they moved to the Galewood neighborhood where Frank and his younger sister, Lorella, spent their formative years. Frank Sr. earned his living as a Metallurgical Chemist and his mom was proud to be a seamstress for Hart, Schaffner and Marx in Chicago’s West Loop.

Life had to be more than just work. Soon after arriving in Chicago, Frank Sr. was

introduced to the Maroons Soccer Club. First, he became one of their players, then became a coach, and eventually President and Board Chairman. Frank Sr. also became a founding member of the Mazzini-Verdi Club. Frank Sr. and Lidia’s social circle grew from these affiliations within Chicago’s Italian-American community and Frank and his sister grew up within this microcosm. The values of love of family, loyalty and service to one another were a part of everyday life. Frank’s favorite activity on any given Sunday afternoon was watching the Maroons play calcio at Hanson Stadium while at his dad’s side, hopefully with a win!

Frank had other aspirations as well. He started singing at the age of 6. “Franchino,” as he was known then, took voice lessons and sang with local Italian-American bands all over the Midwest for many years. He even sang with the great Connie Francis at the Lyric Opera House for a Villa Scalabrini benefit in the 1970’s! He initially thought of becoming a professional singer, but the sacrifice to his personal life was too great and he started working for the City of Chicago. He never lost his love for singing although the instances where Frank sings these days are much fewer and farther between.

Some of Frank’s greatest memories were made with his beloved sister, Lorella. Like all normal Italian siblings, they fought like crazy, but the love was always there. In fact, Frank cites some of his best memories around times when both he and Lorella were working at O’Hare Airport, Frank for the City of Chicago and Lorella for Alitalia Airlines. Those years allowed opportunities for them to have almost daily interactions. Lorella moved on to another job located elsewhere, so after 25 years together, they were no longer able to informally connect with regularity. He still misses that, but at least he and his life partner, Carmela, are able to connect with Lorella and her husband, Larry, and Frank’s nephews, niece and their respective spouses and partners from time to time.

Frank began his career with the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) as an Airfield Operations Supervisor, where he managed day-to-day logistics, including airfield maintenance, snow removal, airfield/terminal construction, terminal management, aircraft incidents and recoveries, airfield certification and training with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and work with all outside agencies. He also participated in and represented CDA at various aircraft incidents and recoveries around the country. Frank had worked closely with the FAA on various Runway Safety Programs at O’Hare, as well as advising on multiple airfield topics throughout the aviation community.

In his current role, Frank serves as the Assistant Commissioner of the Design and Construction Divisions for the CDA. He leads a team of professionals in developing a five-year, $1 billion Capital Improvement Program at O’Hare that includes a $250 million program modernizing all major systems in the Heating and Refrigeration plant; a $250 million airfield improvement program on aging taxiways and runways; and $500 million in upgrades to terminals and related infrastructure to ensure that aging buildings and utility systems are capable of supporting future demands.

Frank provides comprehensive knowledge, oversight and leadership of all airport development and planning activities, including development, design and management of capital projects, facilities projects and tenant projects. He is also part of the Terminal Area Program (TAP) team, the signature component of the $8.5 billion O’Hare 21 program, which will greatly expand O’Hare’s capacity and enhance the passenger experience. He has played an integral role over the 15-year construction history of the O’ Hare Modernization Program (OMP), the $7 billion airfield reconfiguration that has reduced delays and made the airfield more efficient by adding four new runways and extending two others. The OMP is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2021.

Frank serves as CDA’s liaison with its airline partners and other City of Chicago departments on all capital and tenant projects. He serves as a representative for the CDA at the O’Hare and Midway Airports Construction Operations Working Group.

Frank is a frequent public speaker and presenter on behalf of CDA at events around the region, including local chambers of commerce; trade groups, the annual meeting of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA), registered Assist Agencies like HACIA, various colleges and universities, and assorted other outreach events. He is a much-requested airfield tour guide for VIP’s, airport partners and associates, and students. Frank takes great pride in representing Chicago’s airport community, as well as providing an access point for those outside our community to learn about and experience our airports.

Frank graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Dominican University, in River Forest, Illinois, and completed the Project Management Certification Program from Loyola University in Chicago. He also achieved the Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) designation from the prestigious American Association of Airport Executives.

Frank is a father to a daughter, grandfather to a little girl, and the treasured “Zio Franco” to his own nephews and niece as well as his extended family’s children, and Carmela’s family’s younger members.

Anthony Ambrose

Tony Ambrose was born on Jan. 7, 1953, the youngest of four children to Anthony and Anna (Grande) Ambrose. Both of his parents immigrated as children from the province of Cosenza, Calabria. Tony grew up on the Northwest Side of Chicago. His father instilled in him the value of a strong work ethic, his mother demanded that he treat everyone with dignity and respect, and his siblings stressed the importance of taking pride in everything you do. Italian traditions, the Catholic faith and family first were daily discussions in the Ambrose household. These principles and goals were echoed by Tony’s grandparents, aunts and uncles during the Sunday dinners. Tony carries those same principles and goals with him today and passed them along to his daughter, Lauren.

Tony has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from DePaul University and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Lewis University. Believing he could make a difference, especially with youth, in 1984 Tony joined the Oak Park Police Department. He started his career as a patrol officer and was promoted to Sergeant in 1992. In 1995, he was promoted to Commander and immediately assigned officers to the middle schools and expanded the Community Policing Unit. In 2005, Tony was promoted to Deputy Chief. During that tenure, he equipped all marked police vehicles with cameras and computers. In 2016, Tony was promoted to Chief of Police, overseeing 125 sworn officers and 37 civilian personnel.

Tony initiated interactive social media and, concerned with the increase in officer suicides nationally, created a Peer Group to provide counseling and education for police officers. Of all his numerous accomplishments, he is most proud of the department-wide Mental Illness Awareness Training he initiated in 1986 with the assistance of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and THRIVE Counseling. Te program was so successful, it was provided on a yearly basis. Politicians today are mandating that all law enforcement agencies in the country implement Mental Illness Awareness Training, something Oak Park has been doing for more than 30 years.

Tony is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Senior Management Institute for Police. He also served on NAMI’s Board of Directors and THRIVE Counseling’s Board of Directors. In 2018, due to health issues, Tony retired from the Oak Park Police Department.

Tony’s impact extends beyond law enforcement as he continues to give back to the community, his Italian heritage and to future generations by being an active member of the Italian American Executives of Transportation, Columbian Club of Chicago, UNICO and Fenwick High School Hockey Board, and an honorary board member of THRIVE Counseling.

Tony is thankful for the chance his parents took in leaving their homeland and coming to America, where they faced numerous obstacles but never complained. They learned the language, worked hard, raised a family and were excellent role models. “I owe everything to them and the sacrifices they made.”

Anthony Pucillo

Anthony Pucillo retired in 1998 as the First Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation after 33 years of service to the City of Chicago. He served as a Navy Seabee from 1955-58, honing his construction skills by building runways and housing for military use.

A 30-year member of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association, Tony worked as a cement finisher foreman in the private sector for 10 years after his honorable discharge from the Navy, helping to create major construction projects such as the Chicago Skyway and the Dan Ryan Expressway. An opportunity arose to join the City of Chicago as a cement finisher, and through hard work and determination, he was promoted to Foreman, District Superintendent, Deputy Commissioner and First Deputy Commissioner. The promotions to Deputy Commissioner and First Deputy Commissioner came under Mayor Richard M. Daley.

As First Deputy Commissioner, Tony was responsible for construction activities throughout the city. During the early years of Mayor Daley’s administration, there was a major push for public works projects, including street resurfacing and neighborhood beautification. During that time period, Tony introduced street scarification, which was being used in other parts of the country with great success. The process recycles existing asphalt while leveling the streets, after which city crews followed behind repaving them. The city employed this process during Tony’s tenure to repave 2,500 miles of residential streets while costing the city 33 percent less traditional street resurfacing programs. Tony earned an award from the Asphalt Recycling & Reclamation Association for his work on the project.

Tony also embarked on an ambitious program to upgrade work done on the Northwest Side by the WPA before World War II. The program provided neighborhoods with new streets and sidewalks as well as proper curbs, gutters and drainage. Tony’s department also paved and installed drains in alleys, built concrete bus pads and reduced the backlog of vaulted sidewalk repairs. Tony also oversaw the reconstruction of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue and the straightening of the S-Curve on Lake Shore Drive, major development projects that are enjoyed by city residents and visitors to this day.

After Tony retired from the City, he became a partner in M&Q Construction, continuing to provide his expertise on a variety of projects in the private sector. After five years as an owner, Tony moved on to become a consultant to private industry, representing companies such as Vulcan Materials, Benchmark Construction and Elgin Sweeping Service.

Tony attributes his success to his family. He learned the value of hard work early on from his parents, Ernie and Theresa Pucillo. Tony’s father and brother, also named Ernie, were both cement finishers, and Tony’s other brother, Bill, worked in the construction industry. Their parents not only instilled a strong work ethic in their boys, but the importance of giving back to the community

Tony made his mark on the city not just in construction but as a humanitarian. When he was with the City of Chicago, he organized the Department of Transportation’s annual golf outing. While he was in charge of the golf outing, they raised more than $200,000 for the Crossroads Foundation, a charitable organization that provides need-based scholarships for children attending Frances Xavier Warde School in Chicago. He was also instrumental in supporting fundraising efforts for other charitable organizations.

Tony lives on the city’s Northwest Side and is the father of four children — Theresa, Rocco, Gianna and Robert — and the proud Papa of eight grandchildren — Alex, Gabriella, Fiama, Siena, Robert, Anthony, Talia and Desi.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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