A Life Lived -- not dead

Dateline: Thu 07 Dec 2006

For all the flame-throwing this blog does at Gannett and the Indy Star, I'll read the paper until the day I die. Incorrigible, true, but once a newspaper addict, always hooked.

So I was pleased to see in today's Star that friend and former colleague Rob Schneider is still on the "A Life Lived" beat. This popular obit-page feature is always a must-read, and today's story by Rob was no exception.

The subject is Giuseppe Pizzi, aka Joe Pizzi, who died at age 85 Sunday in the hospice of Methodist Hospital. On a more personal note: His beloved daughter-in-law and my dear friend Kathee Pizzi, who is also a registered nurse, was at his side. Other family members, including his "heart" Manuela, who at age 26 is the oldest of his three granddaughters, had left shortly before, after flying in from Manhattan to spend the week with him.

Pizzi is one of those archetypal American stories -- a stranger in a strange land who made this second country his home and his success. A native of southern Italy, his first visit abroad was to the World's Fair in Canada, reports Rob. Afterwards he came to Indianapolis to see a cousin and, as Rob says, was "convinced Indianapolis was the place to be."

Pizzi immigrated here in the mid 1960s. He was an iron welder and worked in the shipyards at home in Northern Italy. So he plied his trade here at his own business: the New World Ornamental Iron Co.

Later his wife Anna Pizzi and his son Eugino "Gino" Pizzi joined him in Indianapolis. Young Gino, 15 when he came to Indy, always wanted to open a restaurant. His Ambrosia in Broad Ripple made waves because it was the first restaurant in Indy to feature Northern Italian cuisine. Eventually Gino persuaded his dad to help him run the restaurant.

Rob notes: "Mr. Pizzi was at the restaurant daily until he was hurt in a fall about four years ago."

In the story, Gino Pizzi describes his father's love of life and his attention to detail. Manuela had mentioned that he hand-crafted wrought iron beds and garden gates for his family.

Thanks to the Star for continuing to tell these stories. As most know, obits are now paid and they can be very expensive. Grieving families now write their own stories and pay the going rate -- I paid $200 for an obit for my mother-in-law and that was a discount price.

But Gannett's obit centerpiece shows there is still a heart left in the corporation. Or at least the recognition that a popular feature deserves a daily ride. As Mr Pizzi and so many others do.

But I still think Gannett should go back to free obits.


comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com


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