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Obituary for Tommaso Pirraglia

Tommaso  Pirraglia
Obituary, Tommaso Pirraglia

Tommaso Pirraglia passed away peacefully at his home on October 18th, 2018 in the company of his wife of 61 years, Adriana.

Tommaso was the proud father of Mario (Anne) and Christine. He was a loving grandfather to Daniella, Gabriela, Aaron, Daniel, Mykola and Peter. And, in one of the great joys of his last years, Tommaso welcomed a great grandchild, Max, into this world. Tommaso will be sorely missed by his sister Vittoria and his brothers Mario, Cosimo and Giovanni.

The Life of an Immigrant Family

Tommaso was born on a farm in Southern Italy. He learned discipline and adventure early in life, working as a shepherd for the family’s herds. When he turned 18, he joined the Carabiniere, Italy’s national police force. He took immediately to the duties and responsibilities of active policing and the discipline that he learned served him well throughout his life.

While stationed in Tuscany, he met Adriana and fell in love. He was only 25 years old and the Carabienieri did not permit marriage until the age of 33. Tommaso chose the higher love and married Adriana, ending his career as a police officer.

Work in Italy was scarce in the years after the Second World War. Tommaso was a young man with a sense of adventure and confidence in his own abilities. Although Adriana was pregnant, Tommaso knew that he would have to go elsewhere to find a future for his family. He decided to follow his brother Mario to Venezuela. This was a characteristic decision for Tommaso. Throughout his life, he demonstrated time and again that he would take on any challenge or make any sacrifice which he believed to be in the best interests of his family.

Tommaso’s son Mario was born in Italy in 1958. In the time that he had been alone in Venezuela, Tommaso had established a successful construction company. Adriana and Mario joined him in Venezuela in 1959 and Christine was born in 1961. The family’s future in Venezuela seemed secure. But Tommaso’s sense of adventure and his desire to succeed was not satisfied. When an offer came to return to Italy and be reinstated with the Carabiniere, he leapt at it. He sold the construction business and moved the family back to Italy, full of hope.

The hope was dashed. The promised reinstatement to the Carabiniere never occurred and Tommaso spent a listless year in Italy, anxiously waiting for something to turn up. His brothers, Antonio and Cosimo, suggested that he bring the family to Toronto and, in the summer of 1967, he did.

It is easy to lose sight of how difficult that decision must have been. Neither Tommaso nor Adriana spoke English or had ever been to Canada. They were leaving behind their loving and supportive families to begin a new life in a cold and unfamiliar country. It was not a move which held much promise for them. But Tommaso knew that his children would have more opportunity in Canada than they would in Italy and so, armed with a sense of adventure, great discipline and a highly perceptive intellect, he brought his family to Canada. His children, grandchildren and great grandchild reap the fruits of that decision every day of their lives.

Tommaso became a member of the small army of recent immigrants who built the city of Toronto. He became an ironworker and was an active member of the Italian immigrant community which brought much needed colour and vitality to the city. He remained proudly Italian and joined the Toronto branch of the Association of Carabinieri in Congedo where he met many new friends and was able to continue his passion for law.

Tommaso achieved all that he desired in life. His sense of adventure was fulfilled. His drive to secure his family was realized. And he loved and was loved to the last day of his life.

As an expression of sympathy in lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to a charity of your choice.
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