Passages 2017, Remembering those we lost.

Robert Leo “Buck” Frank (1938-2017)

Laurel Frank informed us that her father, club member Robert Leo “Buck” Frank, passed away September 29, 2017 in Santa Cruz. Buck’s paternal grandparents, Corrado Franch and Maria Gembrini, were from Cloz in the Val di Non. His grandmother’s brother was the well-known Scalabrinian of Merano, Father Modesto Gembrini. Buck worked as an operating engineer and ran the Frank Christmas Tree Farm started by his parents in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Romeo Zuech (1938-2017)

Romeo Zuech passed away in San Luis Obispo on July 20, 2017. He was born and raised in Brez, Val di Non. He had an illustrious career in aerospace, creating various alloys, including those used on the first lunar landing. Coincidentally, the day he passed away, July 20th, was also the date of the first moon landing. His fascinating life story has been chronicled in several Trentino publications. On the day he passed away, the church bells in Brez rang several times in his honor.
Upon retiring from aerospace, Romeo launched a new career in winemaking. He founded Piedra Creek Winery in San Luis Obispo, with the Trentino eagle embedded in the logo. His signature wine, San Floriano, is named after the patron saint of Brez. The dominant grape in this wine is Lagrein, a typical varietal of Trentino-Alto Adige. The winery is now managed by Romeo’s wife, Margaret, and their grandson, T.J. As a final note, Romeo had a passion for soups. He compiled a bilingual booklet of recipes in English and Nones, the dialect of the Val di Non. Over the years we have published some of these traditional recipes from the Val di Non.

Lucia Morandini Hotmire (1942-2017)

Lucia Morandini Hotmire passed away on March 31, 2017. She was from Tezze di Grigno in the Valsugana. She met and married US Army Major David Hotmire in Vicenza. Lucia was an avid scholar of literature at the Monterey Institute for International Studies and the University of California Santa Cruz. After her husband passed away, she met and formed a life with fellow Trentino club member, Oliviero “Vero” Oliveri, originally from Roncone in the Val di Chiese. They spent 25 cherished years together.

Minnie Franceschetti Laugero (1916 – 2017)

Minnie was born in Santa Cruz. She moved to Escalon as small children, and there she remained. Angelo Franceschetti, Minnie’s father, and Raffaele Franceschetti were brothers from Cologna, now a district of Pieve di Bono. Minnie worked for Escalon Packers and Escalon Premier Brands (Heinz) for 65 years, retiring at the age of 94!

Natalie Franceschetti Morino (1917 – 2017)

Natalie was also born in Santa Cruz and she moved to Escalon as small children, and there she remained. Raffaele Franceschetti was Natalie and Sketti’s father, and was the brother of Angelo Franceschetti (Minnie’s dad). Natalie and Sketti’s mother, Antonietta Nicolini was from Daone, also in Trentino.
Natalie worked for the Escalon State Bank prior to WWII and then for the Escalon School District.

Giuseppe “Bepi” Dorigatti

Board member Luca Dorigatti lost his father, Giuseppe “Bepi”, August of 2017. He was 81. From 1996 to 2014 Luca’s father was the head of referees for the Italian Federation of Winter Sports in Trentino. He began refereeing athletic events in 1967. The safety of athletes was of paramount importance to him. He loved all sports, and from 1961 to 1991 was a volleyball referee. He was described in the newspaper as someone who was charismatic and generous, with a great passion for his work. He had to be exceptionally organized to manage on weekends over 100 referees in 10 different sport activities. At his funeral the church overflowed with attendees. As Luca said, “it was touching to know how many people were close to him and benefitted from his presence and friendship. I was lucky to have such a fantastic man in my life.”

Pat McFadden

Club member Linda McFadden’s father, Pat McFadden, passed away August of 2017 in Rock Springs, Wyoming at the age of 88. He worked at F.B. McFadden Wholesale for over 75 years, a bulk food supplier. He was married to the Trentina, Reka Santini. Many Trentini immigrants settled in Rock Springs, primarily to work in mining. Linda’s maternal grandfather worked as a coal miner in Rock Springs. He was from Pavillo in the municipality of Tassullo, Val di Non. Linda’s maternal grandmother was a Floretta from Cloz, also in the Val di Non.

Vivian Gennai

Vivian Gennai, a native San Franciscan and retired pharmacist, passed away March of 2017 at the age of 97. Daughter Janet and son-in-law Lino Rizzi are club members. Lino, a native of Cloz, Val di Non, is our club’s vice-president.

Antonietta Floriani in Zentile

Founding club member Laura Floriani Vitlacil lost the last of her sisters in Trentino, Antonietta Floriani in Zentile.

Youth Exchange – Greg McGarry

In 2017 Greg McGarry represented our club at a gathering of youth between the ages of 18 and 35 in Trentino. Greg’s ancestors, Tafner and Pedri, immigrated from city of Trento and Cagnò in the Val di Non. For years the Province of Trento has sponsored this gathering of youth from places with large numbers of Trentini immigrants, namely North and South America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Greg was hosted by a young couple in Rovereto, Riccardo Bisoffi and Debora Finotti. Riccardo works for Pama, a manufacturer of machine tools. Debora handles export sales for Aquafil, a producer of textile yarn based in Trentino with plants worldwide. A year later it was Greg’s turn to host Riccardo and Debora here in California. After touring California the couple flew to Toronto to visit Ivo Finotti, vice-president of the Trentino Club of Toronto. Ivo and Deborah are cousins.

Greg McGarry with exchange couple Riccardo Bisoffi and Debora Finotti at a Chinese restaurant in California


Last year a delightful article appeared in the BBC Magazine recounting the experience of a group of grandmothers from Daone, a hamlet in the Val del Chiese, which in turn is part of the Valle Giudicarie. Several of our club members have origins in Daone with last names such as Bugna, Nicolini, Ghezzi, Corradi and Leonardi. In 2015 Daone merged with Bersone and Praso to form a larger municipality called Valdaone with a population of nearly 2,000.

These grandmothers, average age 80, belonged to the Rododendro (Rhododendron) Club of retirees. Their dream was to go to the seashore for a vacation. Most had never even seen the sea. They married soon after the war. They raised children and toiled in the fields while their husbands worked building the valley’s dams. Vacations were considered frivolous, a waste of hard earned savings. Some had never even ventured to the city of Trento,f only 35 miles away.

The word for women in the local dialect is “funne”. Well, these “funne” created a calendar, and each month one of them was featured in a photomontage based on some dreamlike wish. The idea was to sell the calendars and make enough money to go on vacation to the seaside. The calendars did not sell that well, and their hopes were dashed. Then one of their grandsons suggested crowdfunding on the Internet. The results were phenomenal. Donations flowed in from all over the world. They had more than enough money to go on their dream vacation last year. They chose the Croatian island of Ugljan, with the same patron saint as Daone, La Madonna della Neve (the Madonna of the Snow). They arrived just in time for the August 5th feast day celebration. Of course, none of them knew how to swim, but that made no difference. Their dream had come true.

Katia Bernardi chronicles this captivating story in a book and documentary film both entitled Funne, le ragazze che sognavano il mare.

These women have been featured in the media and were honored guests of the Pope.

Trentino Roots Award

The governing board of our club recently established the “Trentino Roots Award”, a monetary gift of $500 to encourage members of our club to participate in the “Summer Exchange Program” promoted by the Province of Trento, and help defray some of the costs. Gregory Eugene Tafner McGarry aka Greg became the first recipient of the “Trentino Roots Award” at our spring luncheon in Palo Alto. Congratulations Greg!  Buon Viaggio in Trentino!

What is the Summer Exchange Program?
The Province of Trento each year funds a summer exchange program for youth aged 18 to 35.  This year club member Gregory Eugene Tafner McGarry aka Greg has been selected to participate along with Trentini youth from Latin America, Australia, Canada and elsewhere. Greg lives in San Francisco.  He currently teaches high school English and is completing his Master’s in Education from Stanford University.  Greg’s great-grandfather was from city of Trento and his great-grandmother was a Pedri from Cagnò in the Val di Non. His family is related to the current president of the Trentini nel Mondo Association, Alberto Tafner. In the US their last name was changed to Daffner.  A Trentina family will host Greg for 3 weeks while he engages in a series of activities organized by the Province; in turn, Greg will host a member of the family here in California.

 A picture of Greg at the Spring Luncheon
Congratulations Greg!!!

Padre Efrem Trettel Passed Away at the Age of 95

Dear Trentini,

It is a very sad moment for our Trentino club. Padre Efrem Trettel passed away at the age of 95 on Friday, January 20th. Padre Efrem was a pillar in the community. For years he broadcast Italian TV and radio programs from his studio in San Francisco. His achievements are numerous. He was an iconic figure both here and in Italy. The news appeared on TV and in print in Trentino the day after his passing, and on a blog produced in his birthplace of Predazzo.

In 2010 club member Christine Bologna visited Padre Efrem and wrote a captivating article chronicling the history of this extraordinary man. Click here to read that article.  Around the same time Vincenzo Mancuso of the Trentino Historical Museum created a short subtitled documentary based on interviews with Padre Efrem and other club members. Padre Efrem donated his collection of writings, tapes and film footage to the Museum, and some of this historical footage is included in the documentary.  Click here to view the documentary.

Father Efrem was an accomplished writer, poet and musician. In 1960 “Fiumi-Risaie-Anime, Ricordi Della Mia Missione in Cina” was published, an autobiographical account of his years in China. In 1965 the book was translated in English, “Rivers, Rice Fields, Soul: Memoirs of My Mission in China”.  He also wrote a book on St. Francis of Assisi and one entitled “The Life of Mary”.  In 2011 an anthology of his poetry was published under the title “Son of Francis”.  In 2004, in honor of his outstanding life and career, the Province of Trento presented him with the “International Award”

A special thank you goes out to club member Marco Di Ianni, who visited Father Efrem frequently and assisted him as his health failed. Father Efrem will be forever grateful.

Father Efrem was buried along side his brother, Father Flavio, in the Franciscan Cemetery in Colma, south of San Francisco.  Father Flavio tragically passed away in a car accident in 1994.

Father Efrem, we thank you for your friendship, support and spiritual guidance over the years.  May you rest in peace.

Addio, caro amico.

Circolo Trentino di San Francisco