Obituary of Renato Bonanni
Renato Bonanni, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and Slingerlands, New York, died peacefully on May 21, 2018 in Albany, New York, at the age of 93 (a day before his 94th birthday) with his devoted children by his side, and his beloved wife Antonietta with him in spirit.
Renato is pre-deceased by his cherished, dedicated and caring wife of 64 years, Antonietta Bonanni, who passed away on February 20, 2018, his three brothers Giuseppe Virgilio (Clarice) Bonanni, Quinto Marino (Ada) Bonanni, Antonio (Marsilia) Bonanni, his three sisters Antonina (Salvatore) Giusti, Elisa (Angelo) Orsi, Angela (Domenico) DelVecchio, his brother-in-law Armando Pujia and wife Santa Pujia, and his brother-in-law Michael Tenore.
Renato is survived by his three loving children Luciano (Christy) Bonanni, Pierino (Julie) Bonanni, Anna Maria (Anthony) Maritato, six adoring grandchildren Christopher (Seulki), Nicole, Matthew, Stefania, Renato, and Isabella, and great granddaughter Lilah. Renato is also survived by his sister-in-law Angelina Tenore, brother-in-law Victor Pujia and wife Mary Pujia, as well as many loving nieces and nephews, relatives and friends.
Renato was born on May 22, 1924 in San Marco, Abruzzo, Italy, near L’Aquila (60 miles East/North East of Rome) to Benedetto Bonanni and Anna (Sacchetti) Bonanni. Renato’s mother, Anna, affectionately referred to as “Nonna Annuccia” by her grandchildren, gave birth to Renato when she was 45 years of age, considered advanced in age to bear a child at that time. He was the youngest of seven children. One day while expecting, she said a light appeared to her that brought an overwhelming feeling of calmness and joy. She knew at that moment she would name her son Renato (meaning “reborn”) and that he would be special and a blessing to her throughout her life. Anna imparted to her son and all her children her strong faith.
Renato lived in the hill town of San Marco from 1924 to 1937 where he gained a reputation for his scholastic abilities, especially in math. He also loved history and poetry. He relished learning and working with his hands from a very young age. His father, Benedetto, a talented man who demonstrated some innovations in agricultural tools, taught him about agriculture and how to live off the land. Benedetto died around the age of 65 while Renato’s mother, Anna, went on to live to the age of 96. Like many families in rural Abruzzo, they made wine, sheep’s milk cheeses, soppressata, prosciutto and other cured meats, which helped sustain them during lean times. At age 13, Renato became skilled at grafting grape vines and fruit trees, and that became his first paying job. Today there are families in Renato’s home town who still remember him, as much for his early mathematical abilities as for improving the quality of their family’s grape vines. In 1938, Renato and his brothers and a few friends left San Marco to do labor and construction work near the Colosseum in Rome.
Benito Mussolini ruled Italy from 1922-1943, which along with the events of World War II profoundly impacted Renato’s life. In 1943, he was drafted into the Italian Army and sent to northern Italy, where he was fortunate to be reunited with two friends, Gianantonio Ciammetti and Carlino Sacchetti, from his home town of San Marco. One month after he was drafted into the Army, the King of Italy surrendered to Allied Forces, but the war was not over. Renato and his friends struggled to make their way back to San Marco amidst Germans who still were at war. At a train station in northern Italy, an armed German soldier tried to capture him and his two friends. Renato cleverly eluded the German soldier. He and his friends escaped. They walked miles for days with no food or water, and eventually made their way to another train where a sympathetic conductor gave them a free ride on the floor of a freight train, by which they made their way back to San Marco.
In 1947, Renato left San Marco for Alsace-Lorraine, France, where he worked for a few years in a glassworks and a metal factory. In 1951, he immigrated to Montreal, Canada, where he was exposed to the sheet metal trade. A fast learner with innate math skills, he impressed employers with his ability to layout and fabricate complex ductwork shapes from flat metal. In 1955, he moved to the United States. He joined the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 28 where he was a working member for 27 years, and a dues paying member for 63 years and the remainder of his life. Renato became a revered master of his trade. He worked on Lincoln Center in New York City, on West Point Military Academy, and on other landmark buildings, as well as countless residences and businesses.
On October 19, 1952, Renato met his future wife Antonietta in a true-life fairy tale that he and Antonietta would fondly recount throughout their lives. Renato departed Montreal for a visit to see cousins in Yonkers, New York. Antonietta, who in 1947 immigrated from Calabria, Italy, to New York, was a sweet and unassuming neighbor friend invited to the family gathering celebrating Renato’s visit. Renato and Antonietta caught each other exchanging glances across a crowded dinner table. When a relative began playing music on an accordion, the two shared a dance that would seal their fate. Hearts beating rapidly, they also sensed a profound trust and respect for each other. Returning to Montreal, Renato wrote to Antonietta’s father to request his daughter’s hand in marriage. Renato and Antonietta married on October 3, 1953. They had three children. Working long hours, saving for the future, making smart choices together, they prospered. Their children were lovingly given the opportunity for the education that was not available to them. Renato always made known that his cherished Antonietta, their children and their spouses and families were the love and joy of his life, along with his many dear relatives and friends.
Renato and Antonietta were magnificent individuals, two halves of one whole and simply magic together. Over the span of their life together they built four homes, tracking their course from Yonkers, New York, to a retirement split between Albany, New York, and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. They managed not only to provide for their children’s educations at Manhattan College, the University of Rochester, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but started college funds for all their grandchildren, great grandchild, and the children of other members of the family and friends. Renato donated funds and the home where he was born, helped his mother and father as long as they lived, aided relatives in Italy, and lent a working hand to help relatives in the United States in any way he could.
Since departing his native land in 1947, Renato returned to Italy three times, during which he introduced his mother and many Italian relatives to his wife and his American-born family, fostering family bonds to last a lifetime. First in 1959, he spent all of his life savings to return to see his mother Anna (then 86) and to have her meet his beloved Antonietta and their first born son at age four. Second, in 1970, he returned to see his mother Anna (then 92) with all three of his children, including only daughter whom he named after her. Finally, in 1990, while his mother had by then passed, he returned to see for the last time three of his siblings who were living at the time (Elisa, Angela, and Antonio) and his many beloved nieces and nephews and family. Renato is the last of seven siblings to pass from this life, and leaves behind a remarkable legacy. He accomplished all that for which he aspired.
Renato was graced with many fine qualities that distinguished him as a force of nature from the day he was born. He was one of kind: brilliant, wise, charming, strong, a true king among men. He was tenacious, a leader, and a renaissance man. He spoke three languages, was a master of his trade, built houses with his own hands, could fix and create to meet any need, and excelled at finance, investing, saving, and cultivating. He could speak for hours on European and US history from his own life experience. He could plant a garden that would yield figs and grapes, beans and arugula, tomatoes and flowers and a harvest like no other. He could give counsel and sound advice on any topic, recite lengthy verses of poetry and math tricks he learned in his youth, and dance a waltz across the room like Fred Astaire. Along with his beautiful and precious wife Antonietta, he could engender your love, and trust and affection in a minute, and sustain it for a lifetime. If you knew Renato, your life is blessed. If the worth of a man is measured by how much he was loved, there was no greater man.
Visitation hours will be Tuesday, May 29th in Yonkers, New York, from 4 pm to 8 pm at The Community Home for Funerals of Sinatra Family of Funeral Homes (Sinatra Funeral Home), 601 Yonkers Avenue, Yonkers, NY, 10704 and Wednesday, May 30th in Albany, New York, from 4-7 pm at Applebee Funeral Home, 403 Kenwood Avenue, Delmar, NY 12054.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, June 1, at 10:30 am at the Parish of Mater Christi, 40 Hopewell Street, Albany, NY 12208. Burial services will follow at Bethlehem Cemetery at 286 Kenwood Avenue, Delmar, NY 12054.
To those expressing condolences, please know that your kindness and prayers are more than enough. For anyone wishing to do something in memory of Renato Bonanni, donations can be sent to St. Ann’s Parish, 854 Midland Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10704, to Mater Christi Parish, 40 Hopewell Street, Albany, New York 12208, to Shriners Hospitals for Children, Attn: Office of Development, 2900 N. Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607, to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or to any worthy organization or charity of your choice.
Antonietta’s obituary can be found at https://applebeefuneralhome.com/tribute/details/725/Antonietta-Bonanni/obituary.html#tribute-start.