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Ocean View Funeral Home & Ocean View Burial Park

4000 Imperial Street, Burnaby, BC

OBITUARY

Triestino John Di Fonzo

June 22, 1922August 29, 2020
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John was born in Campodimele, in the province of Latina, Italy. At the age of nine, he immigrated to Canada with his family. During World War II, he served as a barber in the Canadian Army, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1950, he returned to Italy where he met and wed his beautiful bride, Tina De Bonis, in the nearby town of Fondi. John returned to Vancouver and Tina joined him in July 1951. Soon thereafter their first child (Mary) was born, and they went on to have four more children who they raised in East Vancouver.

John was a unique person to say the least. He enjoyed good Italian food and loved the opera. In fact, his own voice could have given Pavarotti a run for his money. He was a deep thinker, and although somewhat of a loner, he could become the life of the party when the mood (& wine) struck him. He was interested in knowing the news of the day and discussing it with his clients and friends during his many years as a barber. John was known to be a wise, one-of-a-kind man.

He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Tina; his children Mary (Ken), Gerry, Anita (Don/"Kelly"), Dino (Flavia) and Lisa; his two grandchildren Graham and Sabrina; his sister Connie, sister-in-law Eva, brother-in-law Victor, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents Gerardo and Maria, brother Paul, sisters Dina and Eleanora and many in-laws. The family would like to thank the staff at the Arbutus Care Centre, especially those on the first floor, for their care and attention to John in the past two years. A Visitation will be offered on Thursday, September 10th, 2020, from 6-8pm at Ocean View Funeral Home, 4000 Imperial Street, Burnaby, BC. A small, private funeral service will be held in the near future.

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Memories

Triestino John Di Fonzo

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Sheila Wells

September 27, 2020

Mr Difonzo was larger than life. I was a neighbor growing up and a close friend with his daughter Anita. So, I spent many years seeing him several times a week and I occasionally accompanied the family on vacations He was meticulous and detail oriented. Which I believe accounted for the many years of working at his successful Barbering business. What comes to mind immediately when I think of him is his mischievous side. He’d get a smirk on his face and a twinkle in his eye and then..“wait for it” the prank would be discovered and we’d all laugh and laugh and tease him back. He also had a quiet and serious side . A kind man, I’ll always remember .
My most heartfelt condolences to his beloved wife Tina. His children Mary , Jerry, AnIta, Dino and Lisa. I know his loss is huge for you all.

Beniamino DiFonzo

September 8, 2020

Dear Zia Tina and Family,
We are very sorry for your loss. Growing up across the alley, Zio John and I would often cross paths and engage in conversation.
Zio John always had words of wisdom and sage advice to pass along, During a recent conversation, his parting words to me were “Don’t get any older.” Zio John was always very kind and thoughtful, he will be missed.
Sincerest condolences,
Beniamino and Julia DiFonzo.

Adelina Garcea

September 6, 2020

Dear Tina and family
My deepest and heartfelt condolences to you and your family on the loss of your husband, father and grandfather. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Hugs,
Adelina

Vincenzo & Natalina Pannozzo

September 5, 2020

To the DiFonzo Family,

We are so sorry to hear of John’s passing. Our sincere sympathies go out to all of you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you always.

Love,
Vincenzo and Natalina Pannozzo

Roberta and Costantino Pecchia

September 5, 2020

Dear DiFonzo Family,

We are so saddened to hear of John’s passing. He is such a caring and wonderful person. We share so many fond memories. Please accept our most heartfelt condolences. Our thought and prayers are with you always.

With love from,
Roberta and Costantino Pecchia

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Biography

EULOGY by Anita Townrow:


Good afternoon everyone, my name is Anita. Thank you all for coming today to honour my dad's life.

My dad, Triestino Di Fonzo, was born in Campodimele, Italy, in June 1922, the first child for Maria and Gerardo Di Fonzo, my Nanna and Nonno. My dad's brother Trentino, was born two years later. Their father Gerardo (my Nonno) was very patriotic and had named his two sons after the regions ceded to Italy following the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

In 1931, when he was nine years old, my dad, his mother, younger brother and sister Concetta travelled to Canada to meet their father who had previously arrived in 1927. Shortly before starting school, a friend mentioned that their Italian names of Triestino and Trentino might be difficult to pronounce, and so it was decided that they would be called John and Paul respectively. Concetta easily translated to Connie.

In the 1940's, after two months of basic training in Vernon, B.C., John served primarily as a barber in the Canadian Army, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He seemed to have fond memories of his time stationed there.

After the war, in 1950, John returned to Italy in search of a bride! Soon he met and pursued the beautiful AnnunziaTina De Bonis, who, after several months of courtship, agreed to marry him. They were wed in her nearby town of Fondi, in 1950.

John returned to Canada, and Tina joined him in July, 1951. Shortly thereafter, their first daughter Mary was born, followed by their first son Gerry two years later, and then by myself two years after that.

In the 1950's, our family lived for a few years on Turner street in East Vancouver, then moved into our permanent home on Nootka street. John spent decades as a well-known barber on Hastings St. where he engaged in conversations with his clients and friends about the politics and news of the day.

During the 50's and early 1960's, there were many family gatherings. Christmases with the Di Fonzo's, either in our Nanna and Nonno's basement, or at our Uncle Paul and Aunty Eva's home, or at our Auntie Connie and Uncle Doug's house, or at our own home, were always a treat because we kids got to play with our cousins.

For several summers, we also experienced large family picnics at Cultus Lake with the Di Fonzo relatives, including John's youngest sister, our Auntie Dee Dee and Uncle Vic.

There were also family get-togethers with Dad's cousins Mike and Joe Marino and their wives and many children, including us. Chatter and laughter filled the air, bolstered by a good supply of homemade wine.

I also recall many times our family would converge at the home of my mom's brother Vincenzo De Bonis and his wife Irene, to make homemade "salcicce" and enjoy pizza, pasta and drink with them and our cousins. Sometimes the Di Trocchios and the Pannozzos would be there as well and it would be a house full of food, fun and more cousins. Once in awhile, my Uncle Tom and his friend Carlo would show up and play Italian music on their accordion and guitar for all to enjoy.

It was on these occasions that my dad could be the life of the party, entertaining the adults with his sarcastic sense of humour. He liked having a good laugh, and could be quite the joker when the mood struck him, thanks in part to that wine!

Looking back, it has occurred to me now, that my Dad and his cousins, in-laws and family were, I'd venture to say, in their day, what is now referred to as "Party Animals". I was just a kid, who knew?
In 1965, John and Tina welcomed a second son, our brother Dino, who thankfully got his name from my sister Mary and I. Otherwise, much to our alarm and concern, our Dad was seriously considering naming him "Humphrey"! ...after the famous actor Humphrey Bogart.

Four years later, in 1969, our baby sister Lisa was born. It was truly a full house at our home now.

Sadly, a year or so later, John and his family suffered the devastating loss of their youngest sister, the lovely Dina, which had an enormous effect on all of them.

Besides having enjoyed family functions and many Italian weddings, etc. over the years, John also began to prefer his quiet, alone time, especially as he grew older. One of his favourite lines at a noisy crowded dinner table was: "A little less talking and a little more eating, please!" Speaking of dinner, John truly enjoyed his time eating good, delicious Italian food, savouring every morsel until his plate was clean. And lucky for him, our Mom was a wonderful cook!

Sometimes when I would come home late after work or studying, I'd find him standing up watching movies on TV and having a good chuckle at the antics of the likes of Walter Matthau as "Father of the Bride", for example.

John didn't travel much, but several summers in the seventies were spent in Kelowna at our Uncle Tom's summer home. In 1991, he went on a road trip with a few members of our family, in gigantic motor homes, to the Napa Valley in California, where he thoroughly enjoyed visiting the estate wineries there. And, speaking of wine, for many years John and Tina made their own homemade wine in their basement.

In 1992, at the ripe young age of 70, John was finally blessed with his first grandchild, my son, Graham, who was welcomed enthusiastically by all the family. Seventeen years later, his second grandchild, granddaughter Sabrina, was born to Dino and his wife Flavia. Having two grandchildren now made the family complete.

During family Christmases, for many years, John would be on "discarded wrapping paper patrol" supervising the clean-up; and then later became an animated Bingo caller after the Christmas feast.

John was a private, pensive person, and could offer words of wisdom now and again that would truly get to the heart of a matter. He was fastidious, intelligent and a perfectionist, which reminds me of one of his often used phrases: "If you're going to do something, do it right!"

In his later years, John was not one for a lot of commotion, preferring more one-on-one encounters. At the age of 98, he was still pretty sharp, with his mind intact, which was truly a blessing. From time to time he would tell us: "Remember me how I was..."

We will always remember you, Dad.
Thanks for the memories.
Rest in Peace.

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EULOGY by Lisa Di Fonzo:

I couldn't believe my eyes as I drove home from the care home that Saturday night... August 29th.... through an endless stream of tears I observed fellow drivers with their passengers -- talking and laughing -- people on the streets going about their Saturday evening business.... what was wrong with them? Didn't they realize that I'd just lost my Dad? That it was the "end of an era" ? That I was in the deepest depths of despair and the entire world should stop immediately in silent observance ?

I am reminded of the quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about"

Well, today we HAVE stopped the world in order to remember a very unique man -- my father -- Triestino (John) Di Fonzo -- and thank you all for being here today.

I'm sure as the days and weeks wear on, more memories will come flooding back to me... but at this moment in time, I just have a few that are popping into my head...

Like the time my Mom and Dad and I were hanging out at Trout Lake, just sitting on a bench, minding our own business.... when this dog approached us and, low and behold, lifted his leg and began to relieve himself pretty much where I was sitting at the end of the bench... We all had a really good laugh over that one... especially Dad... he just couldn't stop laughing! He thought it was the funniest thing that the dog chose to "do his business" right next to me!

Another memory that sticks out was the time he came to see me perform in one of our Chorus shows.... I remember greeting my Mom and Dad in the audience after the show and noticed that my Dad sounded all plugged up, like he had a cold or something.... which was odd, because he wasn't sick, and how on earth could he have come down with something during the course of the 2 hour show? My mom explained to me later that he may have shed a few tears during the show, and that's why he was sounding all nasally.... And so, this just goes to show that he may have come across all rough and tough, hard as nails... but, dig a little deeper and he was really just a big Teddy Bear on the inside...

My sister relayed a story to me recently from his barbering days... about how clients didn't mind waiting for my Dad at the barber shop... because they knew he was the best... and they enjoyed the banter that took place with him...

One of my most treasured memories is when we went to the Opera together... For the life of me, I can't recall which opera we saw and I couldn't find the ticket stub, but I just remember what a beautiful day that was... the whiskeys shared at the bar before it started... and the look on his face as he sat there and took it all in.... At one point, I'd left the theatre to go in search of binoculars for us, so we could get a better look, and when I returned, he said to me: "Did you hear that last song? Soooo beautiful...." -- he was in heaven.... I wish I'd taken him to more...

He simply ADORED the opera! It seemed to me like he knew each and every one! He would often tell me about different ones... his favourites.... all the dramatic plots and stories.... in great detail.... he just couldn't get enough of the opera.... And Pavarotti, of course, his favourite tenor! I remember going up the steps from the basement once and hearing him singing in the kitchen, ever so quietly, one of his favourite songs of all time, "O Sole Mio".... I didn't want to interrupt him so I just sat on the steps and listened.... I think it's my favourite rendition...

Other Day Trips come to mind.... Horseshoe Bay, Lions Bay, Deep Cove, Cates Park, (so many picnics.....) White Rock, Richmond... the Flying Beaver and Pajo's... always on the hunt for some good fish 'n chips! And it HAD to be halibut for Dad! Don't even try coming near him with that second rate cod! Speaking of halibut, this reminds me of the last time I brought him some halibut... on March 3rd of this year.... I picked it up at this little spot right near the care home.... 2 huge pieces which I brought into the care home and we enjoyed together, sitting at the table in the TV room...like we often did.... he would often "put in his order" to me over the phone, the day before, informing me of what I had to pick up for him the next day .... depending on his cravings... Lombardo's pizza, fish n' chips, chocolate, beer, gingerale.... and yes, there was the one time he specifically asked for linguine with crab sauce... I made it for him and he thoroughly enjoyed it...

My Dad was growing more and more frustrated by the day with all of these draconian measures which were being implemented at his care home and preventing his loved ones from visiting him. He very much looked forward to those visits. There is no doubt in my mind that these horrific policies contributed to his decline. They were, after 5 months, over-the-top and unjustified for what we now knew we were dealing with -- the flu.

By the way, if you think what I'm saying here is "Crazy Talk" -- please turn off your mainstream media and follow folks like Denis Rancourt, Rocco Galati, and Vernon Coleman.

I tried to keep his spirits up ... Whenever I spoke to him over the phone, I would tell him about Rocco Galati and the lawsuit being filed against the Trudeau Government, all Health Officials in Ontario, Theresa Tam, the CBC, etc... and I would tell him about how the people were rising up worldwide in protest of the current tyranny and for our rights and freedoms.... millions rising up in Germany, Ireland, Montreal, Vancouver.... I kept him informed because he was very concerned that this would last throughout the summer....

My Dad was a very smart man. At 98, his mind was still very much intact and he was still as sharp as a tack. I would call him up and play him bits of the videos I'd been watching... he would listen intently to the Italian Parliament clips -- the Italian MP's speaking out (and very passionately, I might add) about the medical fraud. And I remember he said to me at one point: "The only way this is going to end is if the medical community speaks out" -- exactly right, Dad -- and thankfully, more and more are now gaining the courage to do just that.

Throughout the month of August I was busy preparing my home to welcome Dad to live with me... he had told us many times over the past two years that he no longer wanted to be there at the care home... So, that was The Plan -- and I was almost ready but of course I still had to arrange for all the equipment needed and an assessment done... but, The Plan was for him to be back home and surrounded by family so that we wouldn't be subjected to these inhumane policies which were being implemented at care homes. We are not the only family that has been affected -- thousands, if not millions, around the world have suffered through the same... the time to raise our voices in unison against these draconian policies is now! Contact your MP's -- they need to hear from us.

Dad wanted to be near his family, his wife... he wanted to see "his people"... and this is what I was desperately trying to arrange.... I should have arranged it back in March.... unfortunately, time ran out on us.... the care home made a lot of mistakes and rest assured, I am now holding their feet to the fire.... he passed away with two care aides by his side instead of his family, and this will haunt me for the rest of my days.... I'm sorry, Daddy.

When I was in college I wrote an essay entitled, "Figuring Out This Father Figure" -- I think I received a B+ for that one -- in it, I described our relationship and the many times we would argue with each other.... I was 19 at the time, so we used to argue a lot more then... But, the way I look at it, we only argue with the people we care about the most, right ? The people we love.... If I didn't care about you, I wouldn't even waste my energy! But, the thing is, the arguing did not detract from my admiration, respect, and love for my Dad... that was always there.... and it is what remains...

"Father's Daughter" -- A daughter who looks like her Dad, acts like her Dad, and is pretty much a female version of her Father. NOT to be confused with "Daddy's Girl". Yes, I am indeed my Father's Daughter, and darn proud of it! I like my beer and whiskey, singing, speaking passionately about the news of the day, and justice!

My Dad was a good man. A family man. A devoted man. A wise man.

He took care of all 5 of us kids and his wife -- made sure we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. This is how he expressed his love for us all...

I recall a story just now about the time my brother, Gerry, accidentally "cracked his head open" somehow... (I believe a hammer was involved) -- Dad was right there to stop the bleeding and patch him up. So, say what you will about the man (and many do), but at the end of the day, he loved us all and would do anything to protect us.

I believe he was often misunderstood -- that's just the way it is when you're smart.... there's research out there that explains why highly intelligent people prefer to be alone....

And Dad was one of the smartest people I've ever known! An intellectual, really.... he could speak for hours and hours about the state of the world, politics, history, etc.... and with such passion! I remember when he would have friends or family over and he'd be slamming his fist on the kitchen table in order to emphasize his points.... This is what I will miss the most.... having someone to talk to about this crazy world we're living in... someone who "got it"...

He had a way of teaching you without you even knowing that you had been "taught"...

Rest in eternal peace, "Papambre".... I left you 2 whiskeys to enjoy in the afterlife... Maker's Mark...

If you'd like to honour my Dad... go to the opera... or just stay home and blast some Pavarotti...

"I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)
I am never without it
Anywhere I go you go, my dear"

Love you, Daddy...Sempre ❤️

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