Salvatore Gelsomino never lost sight of the Johnston Lions Club (JLC). And though Gelsomino is no longer with the club, they haven’t forgotten him.
The late Salvatore Gelsomino was posthumously awarded a Senate resolution in his honor, co-signed by Senators Frank Lombardi and Frank Lombardo III.
Michael Gelsomino accepted the honor on his late father’s behalf during a brief yet touching ceremony at Spirito’s, which is home of the Italian-American Club in Providence. The resolution notes that he “left Rhode Island a far better place because of his life’s endeavors.”
Current JLC President Joseph Swift said the honor was well deserved. Gelsomino was a past president of the Johnston Lions Club and was an active member since 1970.
“He could easily have been known as Mr. Johnston Lions Club,” said Chris Giardina. “He was huge for our club when it came to the Sight Foundation.”
By all accounts, the late Gelsomino was not only active in the JLC, but also dedicated to the group’s charitable causes. For the past 20 years, the Lions Club has benefited from a Venison Dinner fundraiser, enabling them to support various community agencies.
“My father loved the Lions Club and his family,” said Mike Gelsomino. “He was a family man; he loved his grandchildren [Eric, Andrew and Alex Gelsomino, who are Mike and Carol’s sons] and his sister Barbara Gelsomino.”
Salvatore Gelsomino was born in Lawrence, Mass. He passed away on May 18, 2012, after a battle with congestive heart failure and COPD. He was the husband of Carmela Gelsomino, who died in 1999.
The late Gelsomino and his wife moved to Providence and later Johnston, where he and his brother Guido opened the former Modern Building Company. It was back in 1970, Mike Gelsomino recalled, “when Dad became really active with the Lions Club. He loved that club.”
Gelsomino served as JLC president for two terms, according to his son Mike. He was also president of the Rhode Island Lions Sight Foundation, and an active member of the group, which is an offshoot of the statewide Lions activities.
“Because of Sal’s efforts, over 4,000 pairs of glasses were collected each year and re-processed for the sight-impaired,” Swift said.
The resolution touched upon Gelsomino’s involvement in the cause, stating, “He will forever be remembered for his commitment and dedication to the Johnston Lions and sight-impaired children in our state.”
Another milestone in the late Gelsomino’s life was the long-term relationship he formed with the Koch Eye Association. That program, Swift said, “enabled the Johnston Lions to help many children and adults in the town of Johnston benefit from free eye examines and eyeglasses.”
Gelsomino was also involved in numerous fundraising events for the state Lions Sight Foundation, which helped finance such outings as field and fishing trips and educational camps for the blind and sight-impaired children.
That fundraising will now bear the late Salvatore Gelsomino’s name.
“It was announced at the [Venison] Dinner that hence this day forward, it will be known as the ‘Sal Gelsomino annual Venison Dinner,’” said Mike Gelsomino.