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Italian-American

October 11, 2014 - 2:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, Italian-American, columbus day.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming is pleased to announce that Laurie Napoleone is the historic racetrack’s recipient of its annual Italian-American of the Year award. Napoleone will receive her award on Oct. 13, Columbus Day, with a special trackside ceremony after the seventh race. Mr. Joe Gerace, the first recipient of this award, will act as Master Ceremony.

She’ll also be joined by other past award winners, Chuck Zambito, Ray Cianfrini, Joe Teresi, Charles Ruffino and Russ Romano.

Laurie (Pero) Napoleone is the wife of Mark Napoleone and the proud mother of four children, Mark Jr., Ashley, Christen, and her angel, Michael. She is the daughter of the late Charles and Marien Pero, and the sister of Charles, David and Adelyn Pero.

Laurie earned her bachelor of science in Nursing from Niagara University in 1982 and started working as a registered nurse after graduation at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. After her marriage to Mark in 1983, she returned to her hometown and began working at St. Jerome Hospital, where she stayed for 15 years. After playing a role in the initial stages of the merger between St. Jerome Hospital  and Genesee Memorial Hospital, she decided on a career change into a school setting.

She worked for the Batavia City Schools as a school nurse / teacher at Robert Morris Elementary School. She earned a master‘s in Nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2004. Laurie then took her love for healthcare as well as teaching, and is currently employed by the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. There she is an instructor in the Health Careers Academy, a program for high school seniors who are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare while gaining college credits.

Along with her husband, Laurie is the co-founder/member of the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation. After the passing of their youngest son, Michael, at the age of 8 to Burkitt’s lymphoma, (an aggressive form of blood cancer) the Napoleones created a foundation in Michael’s memory. It  helps families facing the challenges of a pediatric cancer diagnosis, supports research efforts in pediatric blood cancers, and assists youth sports and youth activities in the community.

Laurie speaks on behalf of the foundation and is a strong advocate for the families; has lobbied in Washington for more support of research efforts; and is passionate about the Foundation’s mission.

In her free time, Laurie enjoys entertaining with family and friends, Zumba, and writing.

Batavia Downs Gaming is proud to honor Laurie Napoleone as its 2014 Italian-American of the Year.

July 16, 2012 - 1:09pm

The painting above is titled "The Clash of Cultures," in it artist Tom MacPherson shows us some of the dynamics of his family history.

It's part of a new exhibit at Genesee Community College's Rosalie "Roz" Steiner Art Gallery called "Documente: The Italian American Family Album," which includes original egg-tempura portraits, old-fashioned furniture, photographs, music and stories. It will be on display through Aug. 27.

"Clash of Cultures" depicts MacPherson's two grandmothers in 1940s Le Roy. Grandma MacPherson (foreground) was a Methodist (the ribbon around her waist reads "Methodist Church of Le Roy") of Scottish ancestry, whereas Grandma O'Geen (Gugino) was Italian and Roman Catholic.

While Grandma MacPherson stands outside, Grandma O'Geen stands secure in the "bastion" of her Catholic household (behind the front door), with Swiss Guards from the Vatican guarding the entrance, St. Peter (the first Pope) standing by her side, and Pope Pius XII (upper left) keeping watch overhead.

Born in Batavia and raised in Le Roy, MacPherson now teaches studio art at SUNY Geneseo. His family history is kind of a microcosm of Le Roy's overall past.

His Scottish forebears came to Le Roy in 1801, before it even became a town.

"They were the ones who set the tone for what the local culture would be all about," MacPherson said. "And then my Sicilian relatives had to blend into that."

From the MacPhersons' immigration from the Scottish Highlands to the O'Geens' (who changed their name from Gugino to more easily fit in with American culture) immigration from Sicily in 1896, "Documente" is a detailed panorama of the artist's roots.

Included are the adventures of intrepid MacPherson aunts, elderly Italian aunts praying their Rosaries, the persecution of Italian immigrants by the Ku Klux Klan in Le Roy, and the experience of fathers and uncles in overseas wars.

Scenes re-creating household decor circa 1940-60 add three-dimensional reality, an intimate visit into the artist's everyday world at that time. 

Here in "The Pioneer," MacPherson depicts his bold, adventurous great-aunt Kitty standing on the rocks of her ancestral Scotland.

"No, I'm Not Colonel Sanders" depicts great-uncle Rossolino Barone. Like all of MacPherson's portraits, this is based on a family photograph -- in this case, of uncle "Ross" at a family wedding in the 1970s.

In the background is the drug store that he owned in the Rochester suburbs, and overhead are angels borrowed from Fillipino Lippi's "Madonna with Child and Saints."

MacPherson incorporates images from Italian Renaissance art into his portraits in order, in his words, to "infuse my relatives with their heritage."

"I wanted my Italian relatives to be able to relate to their heritage," he said. "And I wanted (the Renaissance elements) to say something about their personalities."

In the case of uncle Ross, the angels are showering roses on him for the kindness he showed other people.

Great-aunt Catherine MacPherson is the subject of "The Conversion of Great-Aunt Catherine." Catherine was an Army nurse during World War I, and she converted to Catholicism in France after seeing the bravery of the priests and nuns who took care of the wounded and dying.

She is set against the background of her ancestral home in the Scottish Highlands, and the overhead image represents her conversion (when she "saw the light").

The subject of "The Walking Dead" is MacPherson's father, Neil Lewis MacPherson. According to the written description next to the portrait, Neil came back home a "changed man" as a result of his experiences in World War II. MacPherson chose to illustrate this by appropriating the figure of death (right) from German artist Hans Baldung Grien's "The Three Ages of Death."

Here are a few other "Documente" displays:

A series of photographs in honor of MacPherson's cousin, Frank O'Geen.

"La Vita Mia"

"What Ya Gonna Do?" (a portrait of an aunt surrounded by religious icons)

"The Adventures of Great-Uncle Pete" (To view a video explaining this one, click here.)

Having explored the history of the two sides of his family in this exhibit, MacPherson is now working on a book on the subject. He hopes to have it published within the next few years.

Roz Steiner gallery is located at 1 College Road in Batavia and is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free. Gallery Director Shirley Tokash Verrico always welcomes group tours (though children's groups may not be appropriate, as some of the images are more suited to adult audiences).

For more information, email Verrico at [email protected] or call 343-0055, ext. 6490.

August 19, 2010 - 5:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Oakfield, Italian-American.

Oakfield attorney Raymond Cianfrini will be honored on “Italian-American Night” Aug. 27 at Batavia Downs Casino. The lifelong Genesee County resident is well known as a civic leader and volunteer.

He will add the award “Batavia Downs Casino 2010 Italian-American of the Year” to his list of honors at ceremonies inside the winner’s circle at the Genesee County harness track.

After graduating from Oakfield-Alabama Central School, Cianfrini attended the State University of New York at Albany for his undergraduate studies. He received his doctorate in jurisprudence from the UB School of Law.

He has been a practicing attorney in the Village of Oakfield for 38 years and served as Genesee's assistant county attorney from 1972 to 1974 and its assistant district attorney from 1974 to 1976. Cianfrini also served for two years as an associate professor of Criminal Justice at Genesee Community College and as recording judge for the NYS Racing and Wagering Board at Batavia Downs.

The active 64-year-old currently represents Oakfield and Alabama (District 1) on the Genesee County Legislature after having served as Mayor of Oakfield from 2000 to 2007.

Cianfrini and his wife, Karen, a registered nurse at United Memorial Medical Center, have been married for 37 years.

They have three children and four grandchildren. Son Michael is a partner with him in the Cianfrini Law Firm at 31 Main St. in Oakfield. Daughter Christy Cianfrini Connor is an epidemiologist in San Diego. Another son, Steve, is a helicopter pilot serving with the Army in Afghanistan.

Raymond Cianfrini was the 2007 recipient of the coveted Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation Award of Excellence as Outstanding Italian-American and was a charter inductee into the Oakfield-Alabama Central School Hall of Fame in 2004.

He is also a photographer who worked for the Buffalo Bills from 1988-94, which included the team’s four visits to the NFL Super Bowl.

Anyone wishing to make reservations to attend the Aug. 27 festivities may contact Arna Tygart at (585) 343-3750, ext 437. A special Italian buffet will be served and live music will be featured with The Formula Band.

August 13, 2009 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, elba, Italian-American, Charles Zambito.

Charles Zambito will be honored by Batavia Downs on Aug. 29 as the second Genesee County resident to receive its now annual "Italian-American of the Year" award.

Joe "The Mayor of Batavia" Gerace received the first award last year.

Zambito, an attorney who was born and raised Elba and now serves as a Genesee County legislator, will receive the award inside the winner's circle at Batavia Downs.

The award honors a local Italian-American who has made a significant contribution to the community.

Zambito was elected to the Genesee County Legislature in 2001. He serves as the legislature’s liaison to the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and Genesee Community College.

A father of three, Zambito, 57, is a trustee of St. Padre Pio Roman Catholic Parish, where he also serves as a lecturer and usher. He is chairman of the Town of Elba Republican Committee and member of the county GOP committee.  Zambito is a former attorney adviser to the Genesee County Mock Trial Program, member of the Batavia Rotary Club, Genesee-Orleans Cornell Club and active with the Paolo Busti Foundation.

Zambito and his wife, Pat, will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in September.

Italian-American Night is one of several ethnic celebrations at the Downs during racing season, now through Dec. 5. Anyone wishing to make reservations to attend the Aug. 29 festivities may contact Arna Tygart at (585) 343-3750 (Ext 437).  A special Italian Buffet will be served and live music will be featured with The Formula Band.

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