Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation announces 2017 honorees
The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation will gather on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Terry Hills Restaurant to honor two Outstanding Italian American Men of the Genesee County Region. The Honorary recipients are Thomas Cecere and Justin Calarco-Smith. They are two of many Italian American volunteers, who have given their time to help others.
This event will please your palate with fabulous Italian cuisine and great entertainment from the St. Joe's Reunion Brass Ensemble. October is National Italian American Heritage Month. This is a great time to celebrate the Italian heritage and our outstanding recipients, Tom and Justin.
Tickets are available at Ben's Appliance and V.J. Gaultieri & Sons Construction and Paolo Busti Board members. All proceeds are directed to the Paolo Busti Scholarship Fund.
Any questions and reserved seating please contact Michele Fuller (585) 768-7016.
Justin Calarco Smith
Justin was born in Batavia, a son of James and Mary Calarco Smith, of Batavia. His paternal great-grandparents, the Calarco family, were born in Varapadio, Italy, which is in the province of Reggio Calabira. His maternal great-grandparents, the Tessitore family, were born in Naples, Italy. Both families immigrated to the United States.
A 1991 graduate of Batavia High School, Justin graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo in 1995. While at Geneseo, he was a member, founding brother, chaplain and president of Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity. During his college career, he made the decision to enter in his family business, and work alongside his father in the funeral industry.
Upon his graduation from Geneseo, he entered Simmons Institute of Funeral Service, where he graduated with an associates degree in Funeral Service in 1996. He graduated from Simmons with high honors and received the Mu Sigma Alpha Award and a Certificate of Merit in Mortuary Sciences at graduation.
He has been a licensed funeral director since 1997; caring and guiding the families in Genesee County during some of their most difficult times. In 2012, along with his brother Joshua and Randy McIntire, he assumed ownership of H.E. Turner & Co. Inc., where their main focus continues to provide the family and friends they serve with exceptional and personalized service.
His spirit of volunteerism was instilled at a young age as he watched both his parents generously give their time and talent to their community. Upon his return home from college, Justin has been involved with the Batavia Area Jaycees, where he served as the treasurer in 1998 and was honored as the treasurer of the year in New York State in 1998. A member of the inaugural class of Leadership Genesee in 2001, he served on the Board of Directors for CASA, United Memorial Medical Center Foundation, Genesee Cancer Assistance and the YMCA. Justin served on the board of directors, foundation board, finance committee, development committee and chaired the annual awards dinner committee for GCASA.
Justin married Elizabeth Allen, of Elba, on Sept. 15, 2007 and they have three children, Noah, Nicolas and Lucia. Residents of Elba since 2009, Justin is a member of Padre Pio Parish where he is a member of the church’s parish council, The Men’s Group and serves as a lector of the church. Justin currently serves as a commissioner for the Elba Joint Fire District. A 3rd degree member of Monsignor Kirby Council, Knights of Columbus, he has been a member of the Batavia Rotary Club since 1998. He has served on their board of directors for six years, co-chaired the annual pancake breakfast for five years, worked on the stage crew during the annual Rotary Show and was stage manager during the production of Beauty and the Beast. Justin also served on The Rotary Club Memorial Foundation for three years. He has served on Board of Trustees for The Jerome Foundation since 1999, vice-president from 2005-2007 and has been the acting president since 2007.
He is grateful to his parents for providing him with a strong work ethic and responsibility to give back to your community. A strong devotion to his family and deep sense of pride for his Italian American heritage, Justin acknowledges that his accomplishments, whether personal or professional would not be possible without the love and support given to him by his wife, Elizabeth and his three children.
Thomas Anthony Cecere was born in Batavia, to Louis and Mary (Glannan) Cecere. He was the oldest of seven children. He has a son Thomas, a daughter-in-law Sandy and three grandchildren, Taylor, Thomas and Tori. He has been married to his wife Felicia for 22 years.
His paternal grandparents both immigrated to the United States, his grandfather, Angelo Michael Cecere, at 5, in 1880 from Valva, Italy, and his grandmother in 1890 from Lithuania. They were married in 1900 and had 14 children. His parents met during World War II in England and after the war were married in Batavia. His mom was a “War Bride.”
Growing up as a member of one of Batavia’s largest families was very special. Every Sunday all his aunts and uncles and their families started out by going to church, then home for a real Italian meal.
Tommy says, “four things were very instrumental in molding me into what I am today. They are my family, my Catholic upbringing, the time that I spent in the Navy, and the many years that I spent in St. Joseph’s Drum and Bugle Corps. Being a member of “Mighty St. Joe’s of Batavia is an honor and a privilege.”
In 1966, he enlisted in the Navy. He served four years and spent two and a half years in Vietnam, all of which he is very proud of. He worked at Doehler Jarvis, Eastman Kodak Co., and Rochester Products. He retired in 2008.
When he retired he gave back to the community. He joined the “Genesee County Joint Veterans Honor Guard. They provide an Honor Guard, a Firing Squad and a live Bugler for Military Funerals and Memorial Services.”
“It is such an honor to play Taps for these Veterans that gave so much for all of us,” he said.
He’s played Taps for many years. In 196I playing for Batavia’s first Vietnam Casualty. He’s been the Bugler for the “Vietnam Traveling Wall” every time it’s come to Genesee County. He is a member of “Buglers Across America.” They accept assignments to cover funerals and memorial services covering a 100-mile radius. Since 2009, he’s averaged playing Taps 104 times per year and averaged driving 3,201 miles per year.
Currently, he belongs to “The St. Joe’s of Batavia Brass Ensemble.” Its sole purpose is to give back to the community. They do fund-raisers for “Crossroads House,” school band programs, concerts for veterans and for hospitals and nursing homes. They’ve even gone to private homes of individuals who were in the last weeks of their lives and played out on their lawns for them.
His accomplishments include: the 1965 New York Canadian Individual Soprano Bugle Player. While on board the USS Princeton, recovered the Apollo 10 Space Capsule, made all of the ships PA announcements and played the “Boatswain's Pipe," all of which were heard on worldwide television. In 1987 while competing in the “Unlimited A Class” against pistol shooters from all over the world, won first place in the “Metallic Silhouette International Pistol Championships.” In 1991 along with Robert “Sully” Sullivan co-founded the St. Joe’s Alumni Corps of Le Roy. Also in 1991 ran 26.2 miles in the Boston Marathon. In 2013 was part of the Ghost Riders Mini Drum and Bugle Corps from Batavia that won first place in the “World Mini Corps Championships” in Annapolis, Md. In 2014 was one of four people from all over the world who was inducted into the “Buglers Hall of Fame” in Bridgeport, Conn.
He thanks God for the opportunity of growing up in Batavia as part of such a wonderful Italian Family and for being born in the United States of America.
It is an honor and a privilege to call both these gentlemen my friends. I'm proud to congratulate them both for this honor. I can't imagine two more deserving men.