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"TIR" 2007 Obituary


TIROLESE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-08-20 published
TIROLESE, Francesco
Father, labourer. Born May 27, 1924, near Marcianise, Italy. Died January 16 in London, Ontario, of complications following a fracture, aged 82.
By Sergio TIROLESE, Page L6
My father was born in a poor farming community on the outskirts of a town north of Naples. He was the second of six children.
During the Second World War he was drafted into the Italian army. After the Italian surrender in September, 1943, he and many other draftees spent the winter foraging for food and avoiding German patrols. His war over, my father returned to the family farm.
He met my mother in an even smaller village north of his; they married, and in 1956 my brother was born. Life was hard. Several of my mother's siblings had immigrated to Canada, and their letters spoke of a good life. So my parents sold what they had, purchased three tickets, landed in Halifax and took the train to Toronto.
Francesco had a series of jobs in construction but, by the time I was born in 1959, still hadn't found steady employment. One day, Dad heard of a job opportunity north of Toronto. It took a while before he understood that you couldn't get there by train - the only way to Frobisher Bay was by airplane.
In August 1960, Dad left for Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit). He was there for almost three years, returning every six months to visit us in Toronto.
The crew that Dad joined had the task of keeping the U.S. radar and air base clean. He worked hard - after he finished his shift he would shine the shoes of the pilots and soldiers to make extra money. Each month, he sent money back to Toronto; when he finally returned, he bought his first home and a brand new Ford Fairlane His time on Baffin Island affected him in a profound way. I remember evenings when he would show the family slides of the photographs he had taken there. Even after his subsequent career as a labourer with the Canadian National Railway, after the loss of his wife in 1998, and long after his diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease, Dad's Nunavut experiences remained marked on his mind. I believe they made him a Canadian.
Francesco was a caring and devoted father who stressed the importance of education. He taught himself to speak, read and write in English. He was immensely proud of his garden and fruit trees and loved to sing the melodies of traditional Neapolitan ballads.
My parents left Italy to seek a better life in Canada, to provide their sons with opportunities that were but a dream for them in Italy. I will always remember my father's proud boast that he and my mother put their two sons through university. With tears welling up in his eyes he would proudly exclaim: "My work is done!"
Sergio TIROLESE is Francesco's son.

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