Lucchesi honored Ciminello, Leonardi Juarez

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Paul Ciminello and Lilia Leonardi Juarez

The Lucchesi Nel Mondo honored Paul Ciminello and Lilia Leonardi Juarez as Man and Woman of the Year at their annual banquet on Aug. 28 at the Mazzini Verdi Club.

The following profiles were provided by the organization.

Paul Ciminello

Paul Ciminello has been a member of the Lucchesi Nel Mondo Association for over 25 years.  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 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.

The Mazzini Verdi Club honored him as Man of the Year in 2018.  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 over 40 years! Their  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.

Paul shares the story of his remarkable life in his autobiography,

“Paul Ciminello: Remember My Name”, which is available at Casa Italia and on Amazon Kindle.

Paul is retired and active in many social events, and enjoying life with Cathy, and all of the loving nieces, nephews and close friends who are such an important part of his life.

Lilia Leonardi Juarez

Lilia Leonardi Juarez was born in Chicago to Emilio Leonardi and Lina (Baccini) and was the youngest after three brothers. The oldest brother was born in Italy. The family came from the comune di Fivizzano in the province of Massa Carrara in the Region of Tuscany.

Lilia’s father immigrated to America in 1921 and went to work in the coal mines of West Virginia along with his father. A mining accident killed her grandfather and Emilio decided to return to Italy, never again wanting to enter a mine. After he married in Italy, he decided to come to Chicago where friends lived.

Lilia attended Providence High School, graduated from Loyola University with a bachelor’s degree in education and received a master’s degree from Governor State University. She retired in 2007 from the Chicago Board of Education after 42 years of service with the last 14 years as Assistant Principal at Pickard School. The school is located on Oakley and Cermak which for many years was an enclave for many Italians from Tuscany.

Lilia has three sons. Rick (Trish), Dino (Kristen), and Christopher (Sarah). Rick became an attorney, Dino a graphic designer and Christopher retired as a Colonel in the United States Air Force after twenty-five years of service. Eight grandchildren from ages 19 to 4 came lovingly into the world.

Lilia lives in Park Ridge and belongs to the Lucchesi Nel Mondo and the Mazzini Verdi Club with her significant other Gino Pasquinelli. The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans and the IAET play a substantial role in their social activities.

She is the Treasurer of the Mazzini Verdi Ladies Club and a past President of the JCCIA Women’s Division, and is currently a volunteer at the JCCIA office at Casa Italia.

Tickets for the event are $65 per person, and include and open bar. Ciminello will sing the national anthems, Juarez will serve as emcee and entertainment will be provided by Super DJ “Italian Gold” Loris Giannoni. For reservations, call Christina Gaddini at 708-457-0039 or Loris Giannoni at 708-710-4526.

 

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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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