Giovanni Gatti, an orphan who provided foster care for more than 1,100 children over the years, died Thursday (Oct. 24, 1996) in his Lancaster home after a brief illness. He was 71.
The Gattis opened their home to foster children from 1979 through 1994. Their daughter said one of Gatti's greatest gifts was "his unending love for children."
"His mother died when he was 6, and the children lived in orphanages until he was old enough to look for them and reunite them," said his wife, Rose Marie.
The Gattis worked with Gateway Youth Services during some of those years of foster care.
"We had an average of eight to 10 children in our house at any given time," said Mrs. Gatti.
Born in Celano, Province of L'Aquila in Italy, Gatti came to the United States in 1952 and worked for Adamo Albini Construction until 1960, when he joined Ciminelli Construction. He later worked in construction for his uncle, Frank Torrelli, until the late 1960s.
Gatti was a member of Cement Masons Local 111.
"Just last July, he and our son put in a new concrete and cobblestone driveway at our home," said his wife. "It's a work of art."
Gatti sang tenor at clubs such as the old Salvatore's on East Delavan Avenue and McVan's on Niagara Street, as well as clubs in Batavia and Rochester.
Survivors include his wife of 35 years, the former Rose Marie Pirritano; a daughter, Donna Marie of Lancaster; a son, John F. Sr. of Lancaster; two sisters, Maria Marinaccio of Williamsville and Elena Grisanti of Pasadena, Calif.; two brothers, Antonino and Costanzo, both of Italy; and four grandchildren.
Prayers will be said at 10:15 a.m. Saturday in Amigone Funeral Home, 6050 Transit Road, Depew. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 in St. Mary's Catholic Church of Lancaster.