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Manton Seniors remember past, look to future
The 2013 Manton Seniors officers being installed by Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena are, from left, Tom Bianco, Mario Dalmazzi, Lori DeVito, Mary Cerra and Rose Coppola.

The Manton Seniors held their annual Inauguration Day Dinner/Dance in grand style on Sunday.

The day, which included music by the Calamari Brothers and the traditional pomp-and-circumstance that’s reserved for such occasions, was highlighted by a visit from Mayor Joseph Polisena, who administered the Oath of Office for six seniors who will preside over the independent group in 2013.

Once Polisena assembled the six officers in front of the head table, decorated with American flags, he administered the oath to President Lori DeVito, Vice President Mario Dalmazzi, Treasurer Tom Bianco, Secretary Mary Cerra and Corresponding Secretary Rose Coppola.

With the exception of Dalmazzi, the other five officers were re-elected to a one-year term and will serve at all Manton Seniors events in 2013. Dalmazzi was appointed per Lori DeVito after her husband and former vice president William “Bill” DeVito passed away after a battle with cancer. Dalmazzi was then elected with the current slate.

The dinner/dance also included a special birthday celebration and a reminder that the Manton Seniors are a multi-generational organization.

Leonard DiLeone was honored for his 97th birthday, which will be celebrated by his family and friends this Sunday, Jan. 27.

“My father is quite the man,” said Kenneth DiLeone, Leonard’s son who was accompanied by his wife Gloria DiLeone. “He’s got what he calls a young chick [Lola Marrocco]; she’s 82 and he’s been dating her for the past 14 years.

Lori DeVito said the DiLeones are “yet another example of how we’re becoming known for having two generations of members.”

Before dinner began, Mayor Polisena kicked off the speaking ceremony with a moment of silence for all deceased members of the group, including a “VIP” that he said is sorely missed.

“That very important person is Bill DeVito, your former vice president. I know Bill gave up much of his personal time for this great organization. Bill was special to this group and my family, as well. To say that he touched my life would be an understatement. As I sit here today, I miss him very, very much,” Polisena said.

The late DeVito, who passed away on Sept. 3, 2012 at the age of 78, worked with Polisena’s father – the late Joseph A. Polisena – at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence.

Polisena’s later father and DeVito were mainstays in the Fallstaff Room at a time when, as the Johnston mayor recalled, “the Biltmore was the hot spot ... the place to go in Providence.”

The mayor’s late father, a one-time Korean War veteran, was the maitre’d for the Fallstaff Room.

“He met all judges, elected officials, everyone who was somebody,” Polisena said. “Bill was a waiter ... they both recanted stories about how everyone was so nice to them back in the day. They shared many stories about working together.”

When the late DeVito was alive, in fact, he used to sit and recant stories of yesteryear with the Johnston mayor.

“We had a special bond; he’d sit at these and other dinners and tell me worries about my father,” Polisena said.

But the DeVito-Polisena connection was more than two men working together.

“Julie and Joe Polisena used to travel with us,” Lori DeVito said of the mayor’s late mother and father, who for years were members of the Manton Seniors. “Even after Joe passed away, Julie stayed with our group.”

Julie Polisena, the mayor’s mother, passed away on Oct. 5, 2009, after losing her battle with cancer.

“My mother and father loved the Manton Seniors,” Polisena said. “They had a special bond – just like Billy and I did. You can only have something like this in a small town like Johnston.”


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