In November 2012, we received news of the passing of one of our dearest Model Citizens. This is the story of Salvatore “Zio” Tribuiani, as told by his niece:
Last year I sent you some pictures of my uncle Salvatore from Italy wearing your Black Sheep Sweater and you started the Model Citizen contest. Today Salvatore passed away. In his will, he wrote three songs for a marching band to play and how he wanted to be buried. He wanted to wear his Black Sheep Sweater over a red t-shirt. He’s going to stay warm. Thank you for making such a great sweater.
He led an interesting life and had plenty of other accomplishments …
Born in 1920. First of 3 sons of a farmer’s family. Farmers didn’t go to school. He had the fortune to study until he was 13. He got a license in mechanics and because of that when he was called to the army for WWII, he was sent to the mechanics instead of the front lines. This probably saved his life. He was 20 at this time. He gave his gun away to the Partigiani (Italians Rebels against Fascists) because he didn’t want to kill anyone and he proceed in the war without weapons. After three years in the Balkans, he was caught by the Germans and deported to a camp in Germany and was forced to stay there for two years, working in a camp and eating only potatoes skins. When the war was over, he left the camp and, because all the trains and roads were bombed, it took him months to go back home by foot. He went back to his family who suspected he was dead since so much time had passed. He resumed work on the family farm.
He was very charming and charismatic. At age of 40, he got married to his love and life companion, Margherita – 16 years younger. They never had kids. Despite that, he was always surrounded by young people. He fought for the workers’ rights and human rights for poor people in the Sixties and Seventies. This was always his political position. He liked revolutionary men like Che Guevara and Nelson Mandela.
In 1978 at the age of 58 he had a strong panic attack: ‘This is not longer my world’ he said. He never left his property again. He spent his last 34 years on his property (supported by his wife Margherita) reading four newspapers a day, books, taking pictures, watching documentaries, but mostly entertaining many daily friends or anyone who stopped by his house – telling his stories, talking about politics, offering coffee and cigarettes, biscotti and food at anytime.
He was very kind generous and never cared about money. He loved animals. He loved nature. He was very romantic and sensitive. He called himself a man of the early 1900’s. He was a free man. Died at 92. Still very clever in his last days. He didn’t suffer.
For his funeral he wanted: A red undershirt. The Black Sheep Sweater (he loved the metaphor of a black sheep as an ‘anti conformist’ and the strong smell of sheep reminded him of nature’s scent). A pair of jeans. A blue jacket. His hat.
He requested a Marching band play: “Bella Ciao” (Partigiani Revolution song), “Guantanamera” (Cuban Revolution Song), “La Cucaracha” (Mexican Revolution Song), and “La vie en Rose” (by Edit Piaf)
Red wine and cigarettes for everyone.
Monday, over 300 people at the funeral walked, following the coffin, from his bedroom to the cemetery drinking, smoking and singing after the marching band.
This is the Zio Salvatore story.
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