Giuseppe Antonio Defilippis


A father stands in a suit behind his two small children for a photo.
Family portrait of Giuseppe and two of his children Alta and Avanti.

Contributed by his great-granddaughter Allison Drew

Giuseppe Antonio Defilippis was born in Castellonorato, a small village in northern Italy. When he was seven years old his family moved to Marçay to gain French citizenship so they could more easily immigrate to America. In 1905, the fourteen-year-old Giuseppe immigrated to New York city alone to start his new life in America. In 1921 he married fellow Italian, Maria Russo, and they moved into an apartment on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. By 1938 they had seven children (Libero, 16; Concetta, 14; Avanti, 12; Leone, 10; Tullio, 9; Sylvia, 7; Lillian, 1). Maria and Giuseppe would eventually have one more child, Lorena, in 1947. Giuseppe worked as a bootblack on Wall Street to ensure that each of his children could receive a proper education and a fulfilling life.

A Life Worth Living

A family stands dressed and posed for a photographer. A mother and father and their three young children.
Family photo from approximately 1926. Left to right: Libero, Maria, Avanti, Giuseppe, and Alta.

I was once told that my great-grandfather never had a Christmas tree in his house after the fall of the stock market in 1929. My father told me that the decision to forgo a Christmas tree was made out of fear-fear that he might lose all of the things that he had worked so hard for. I should not have been surprised by this story because I know how superstitious my family can be, but I couldn’t help it.

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