Share this article

print logo

Before he died at 83, Gino Bertozzi got to see his beloved family farm in Italy

Nov. 30, 1933 – July 26, 2017

Gino Bertozzi of Lewiston had fond memories of his family’s farm, Boschetto. It was outside Eglio, a tiny village in the northern part of the Italian province of Tuscany, where he was born.

His parents had returned there in the early 1930s to raise sheep, cattle, grapes and chestnuts after living for a few years in Hamilton, Ont.

“It was like Tara to him,” his son Joseph says.

Mr Bertozzi died Wednesday in Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, Lewiston, after a brief illness. He was  83.

But he got to see Boschetto again before he died, in 1981 and 2008. Eglio, once noted for production of chestnuts and chestnut flour, evolved from agriculture to agritourism, and Boschetto became a boutique farm with a bed and breakfast inn.

“It even has a pool,” his son notes.

Mr. Bertozzi grew up there and was attending school in the fall of 1944 when his family had to flee during one of the biggest battles of World War II, the Allied attack on a German defensive line north of Florence which ran through Eglio. Returning after three months in a neighboring village, they found Eglio in ruins, but their house survived.

After the war, agriculture declined and most of the available jobs were in construction, particularly the drilling of highway and railroad tunnels. His son says Mr. Bertozzi thought tunnel work was too dangerous. A cousin in Niagara Falls arranged to sponsor him as an immigrant and he sailed from Genoa to New York City in 1954 aboard the ocean liner Vulcania. His fiancee, Evelyn, also named Bertozzi, came to the United States a few months later.

He worked in construction in Niagara Falls for a couple years, was married in 1955 and, according to his son, “walked into Hooker Chemical Co. and they gave him a job.”

He remained at Hooker Chemical, later Occidental Chemical Co., for 40 years as a laborer and chemical operator. He retired in 1997 and was a member of the Occidental Retiree Club.

Mr. Bertozzi and his wife, who worked as a waitress at the Ramada Inn in Niagara Falls, bought a home in the Town of Lewiston in 1976 and completely remodeled it.

“He filled in a slope in back to create a lawn,” his son says. “He put on a roof.”

He was always ready to volunteer for home improvement projects for family and friends.

“He welded, he soldered, he did electrical work, plumbing, dry wall, you name it, he did it,” his son notes. “If you needed something done, he was there.”

Devoted to his family in retirement, he also enjoyed playing bocce and making wine.

“He bought the grapes in the City Market in Niagara Falls,” his son says, “and he made wine in the basement, 100 gallons a year. He’d make two five-gallon jugs of white wine and the rest was red.”

In addition to his wife and son, survivors include two daughters, MaryAnn and Gina Carbin; six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9 a.m. Saturday in St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 620 Center St., Lewiston.

Story topics: / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment