Gennaro Morrone, aged 89, passed away peacefully in his bed, at his home at Chartwell Scarlett Heights, in Toronto on February 11, 2020, after a life well lived.
His abundant life began in Sessa Aurunca, Italy where he was born on December 3, 1930. He was part of a big Italian family and shared a happy childhood with his mother Giovina, his father Pietro, and his six siblings, Antonietta, Ulderico, Pietro, Benito, Arnaldo, and Elda. In early childhood, Gennaro’s family relocated to Sabaudia, Italy, where he went to school, until he started working at a young age to help support his family. He worked odd jobs until the age of 16 years, when he happened to pass a woodworking shop. He was so intrigued by the men in the window, as they polished and created wood furniture, that he entered the shop and convinced the owner to make him an apprentice. He learned cabinet making and carpentry quickly, and his lifelong passion with creating works of art with wood began. He continued this artistic work in early adulthood, with a brief stint in the Italian army in his early 20s, and then, eventually he moved to the town of Maddaloni, where his family had relocated.
It was in Maddaloni that Gennaro’s destiny was about to change on a day when his infamous anger and frustration got the better of him. There was a small sewing school he would ride past on his bicycle on his way to work every day, and the young girls learning to sew in this school would giggle at his exceptional good looks as he passed. Gennaro found their behaviour undignified and silly and he asked to speak to the head mistress about the lack of discipline of her students. He wanted to give this head mistress a piece of his mind, but, instead, he lost his heart. That head mistress was Rosalia Desiato, the woman with whom Gennaro fell in love immediately, quickly forgetting his complaint of her seemingly impudent students. They would be married about one year later, and Gennaro began to create his very own big Italian family with Rosalia.
In their early lives together in Italy, Gennaro and Rosalia had three sons, and then faced an unbearable hardship together when their youngest son, a beloved 4-month old child named Robertino, died suddenly in 1962. Courageously, they continued loving each other and expanding their family, with the birth of their fourth son.
Although Gennaro and his family had a good life in Italy, Gennaro recognized the opportunities in North America were more abundant, and decided to move from his homeland of Italy to Canada. Gennaro and his family moved to Canada in 1965, after being sponsored and welcomed as new immigrants by Rosalia’s helpful and generous relatives who had immigrated to Canada before them. Gennaro bravely left behind his parents and siblings to start a new chapter as a Canadian, and he immediately loved his adopted homeland.
In Canada, Gennaro and Rosalia expanded their family with the birth of their daughter, and Gennaro expanded his professional life by specializing in the art of French polish and antique restoration. He continued with this craft in his new home city of Toronto until he retired, all while his family continued to grow, as Gennaro welcomed new daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, and many grandchildren.
He spent the rest of his life always keeping busy. Spending time with family and friends, playing with his grandchildren, tending to his outdoor vegetable garden, making hand-crafted leather wallets, and watching opera on his iPad were amongst his many pastimes. Throughout this time, he always remained an artist and thinker, and his passions and opinions continued to keep each of his family members on their toes in his later years.
As Gennaro grew older, he also bravely faced the deaths of his parents and each of his siblings, from afar. He is predeceased by his entire first family, and also by his beloved baby Robertino. Gennaro is survived by his wife of 61 years, his dear Rosalia, his four devoted children and their spouses, Peter (Jane), Rudy (Rosa), Robert (Dina), and Elda (Jonathan), and his seventeen (yes, seventeen) grandchildren: Alexander, Loren, Peter Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Olivia, Serena, Thomas, Jonathan, Sarah, Daniella, Samantha, Leah, Federico, Kiara, Alessandro, and Leonardo. Gennaro’s love for his cherished “nipoti” was immeasurable, and he will be remembered as their irreplaceable Nonno.
In these final years, as his health declined, Gennaro charmed his way into the hearts of the dedicated staff of Chartwell Scarlett Heights, and his team of devoted and gentle caregivers. Their kindness made him feel happy, loved, and supported in his final days.
Gennaro will be missed by many who loved him, and who will always love him.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be considered to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, or to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.