By PETE FONTAINE
The Pannese Society of Rhode Island honored a living legend, a wonderful and powerful man, who at a sold-out event inside Tomaselli’s at the famous Rosario Club, people proclaimed “Not your average Joe!”
Few people, in fact, have done more to promote and continue the club’s Italian-American heritage than Joseph “Joe” Spremulli, who founded the Rhode Island chapter of the Pannese Society in 2013 and will reach a milestone on 2 February when he turns 90 years young.
“Everyone learned lessons – and listened with our ears always wide open – when Joe spoke or presented an idea to organize a special fundraiser to help those in need and put food on the tables of their family,” said David Venditelli. “Everybody loves Joe; he was my mentor and I am extremely proud to be his immediate successor.
Venditelli, who is the current president of the Pannese Society, along with his fellow officers and members organized and hosted an appreciation dinner which drew a sold-out cow of over 150 people and featured 10 special speakers, a special prayer of Monsignor Montecalvo and was moderated by WPRI – Television Personality Mike Montecalvo. The event honored the highly respected Johnston resident, born in 1932 and raised on Federal Hill in Providence.
“Today we pay tribute to Joe for his strong dedication to our Italian heritage,” said Lou Mansolillo, who has stood by Spremuli throughout a number of fundraising and restoration events. very successful for the Pannese Society, which was founded in 1909 and reorganized in 2013. “Joe is indeed the epitome of a role model and a proud Italian-American citizen.”
During his tenure as President of Pannese, President Spremulli’s efforts resulted in several outstanding achievements such as establishing a sister city relationship between Panni, Italy and Johnston; fundraising for local charities and, of course, the incredibly successful student program.
The student exchange program, in fact, was also bolstered by Joe’s son, Louis Spremulli, who made four pilgrimages to Panni, Italy, with other members of the Pannese Society and etched in the stone the students’ educational experiences that were relived, in part, when the little Italian the town’s mayor, Amadeo DeCotis – who sent special congratulations that were read over dinner – came to Johnston to sign the Sister City pact with Mayor Joseph Polisena.
Polisena, in fact, held a press conference with Rhode Island’s top elected officials to welcome DeCotis to the special signing of the Sister City agreement that was born out of Joe Spremulli’s love for his late father Luigi’s homeland. Spremulli and of course its Italian Heritage.
Amidst some conversation, diners appreciated what Joe Spremulli did during his workdays.
“Some of dad’s passions other than the Pannese Society spoke of his work in public property in the city of Providence when he worked for former Major Joseph Paolino and late Mayor Vincent A. ‘Buddy’ Cianci,” according to his son.
He also served as campaign manager for longtime Providence counselors Josephine DiRuzzo and still managed to spend time with family, namely his wife Eleanor and sons Louis and Joseph.
Described as a “man of all seasons and all reasons”, Joe Spremulli also managed maintenance, repairs to Providence City Hall, public swimming pools, police and fire stations. He also worked at Lessona Corporation in Warwick and during this time never failed to help countless people in the Italian-American community in the state.
Perhaps that’s why senior officials from Rhode Island’s iconic Italian-American clubs — of which Joe Spremulli was a member for 70 years — were among the special speakers at the appreciation dinner.
For example, Johnston resident George Lazzareschi, President of the RI Italo American Club, President of the Italian Post 8 Veterans and State Senator Frank Ciccone, President of the Young Pannese Society Club Jason Patrone, President of the Prata Society Ray Fenaro, son of the Italian President Gary DeSauro, Rosario Club President Joe Santilli, Pannese President David Venditelli, and State Representative Edward Cardillo all hailed Spremulli “as a great representative and role model for all Italian-American citizens”.
Another great example of Joe Spremulli’s accomplishments came when Mayor Joseph M. Polisena made not one, but two presentations to a man he described as a “great community leader and a great international ambassador for the city of Johnston and all of Italian-American Rhode Island”. community.”
Polisena’s presentations, in fact, drew warm applause as he read an official commendation that read, in part, “As mayor, it’s always an honor to recognize special residents and that’s with deep gratitude I warmly wish you retirement from the Pannese Society of Rhode Island where you provided selfless service and dedication to the promotion and enhancement of Italian heritage.
As the mayor said, “I am honored to be here today for this wonderful and certainly well-deserved appreciation dinner.”
Polisena then told a cheering audience that he had a special presentation, a presentation he highlighted “reserved for special citizens and their extraordinary achievements and contributions”, and quickly opened a small wooden box containing the prestigious key. of the town of Johnston.
During his closing remarks, Venditelli congratulated the organizing committee – Jason Parenteau, Louis Spremulli, Lou Mansolillo, Stephen Russo and Andrea Paglia – for their tireless efforts for the dinner and concluded by saying, “Joe’s legacy will live on forever. always and his dedication to instilling our Italian heritage for future generations has certainly been exemplary.