When 91 year old Mario DiFelice left turbulent pre-war Italy in 1937 for the United States, he had no conception of how much his life would soon change. In his mountain village of Castel di Iera in the Abruzzi region of Italy, he and his classmates had been required to wear the brown shirts of the Mussolini government, and his mother, like other Italian woman, forced to give up her wedding ring to support the fascist cause.
His father, Carmine, already in America working in the paint ship of the General Motors plant in North Tarrytown, knew it was time to send for his family. And when young Mario with his mother Anna, and sister Leda, sailed passed the Statue of Liberty on the Italian ship “REX”, it was a confusing and exciting time for the little boy, who spoke no English and could only wonder what the future would bring.
At 74 years old Mario was President of the Sleepy Hollow Senior Citizens Club and Deputy Mayor and Trustee of Sleepy Hollow. He spent most of the ensuing 67 years in North Tarrytown (Sleepy Hollow) having attended the local schools, married and raised a family and devoted much of his adult life to public service, not only through his professional career but also his many and varied civic activities. His story is an inspiring one, especially in the light of the growing new immigrant population of Westchester County, and is an example of the benefits that can be reaped from perseverance and a sense of commitment to the community.
On Friday December 5, 2003 Mario DiFelice was among 42 Westchester County residence, selected from a field of more than 500 nominees, to be named to the 2003 Westchester County Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in a ceremony conducted by County Executive Andrew J Spano at a luncheon at the Tarrytown Marriott Hotel.
After his arrival in White Plains in 1937, Mario and his family soon moved to 190 Cortland Street in North Tarrytown and he attended St. Teresa’s of Avila School until eighth grade, and then North Tarrytown High School.
In 1948 he joined the United States Navy, stationed in Jacksonville Florida, where he served during the Korean War as a Plane Captain on three United States Aircraft Carriers, the USS Coral Sea, USS Midway, and USS Franklin D Roosevelt.
After his discharge in 1952, Mario became a Police Officer for the Village of North Tarrytown until 1977, then was Court Clerk for the Village of Irvington for the next sixteen years. He also served as President of the Police Benevolent Association of Westchester County.
He is a charter member of the North Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps and life active member of the Pocantico Hook & Ladder Company. He was active in Boy Scout Leadership for 35 years, the Dads Club of North Tarrytown (Little League), Neighborhood Watch and the Webber Park Neighborhood Association.
“I always wanted to help people”, Mr. DiFelice said. “Helping your neighbor, helping your community, it always has given me a great deal of satisfaction.”
Mario was a lector at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church, and every Thursday visited Phelps Memorial Hospital to serve communion to patients as a eucharistic minister. He belongs to the Knights of Columbus, Italia 2000 club, and Ellis Island Foundation, and was Vice Chairman of Sleepy Hollow Columbus Day Parade. Mario’s hobbies were stamp collecting and travelling.
He and his wife, the former Elinor Glendenning have three children: Michael, of Buchanan, Retired Superintendent for the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City; Mario Jr. (Heather DiFelice daughter-in-law), retired from IBM St. Helena Island, SC, Michelle DiFelice (Albert Feliz, son-in-law) of Mamaroneck, NY. They have two grandchildren, Catie DiFelice, Demi Carrero, and one great granddaughter, Payton Tapia. He was predeceased by his sister Leda Galella.
Due to the pandemic, services will be for the immediate family only.
In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital www.stjude.org would be appreciated.
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