The Honorable John O. Pastore, 1963; Honorable Christopher Del Sesto, 1970; Honorable Albert E. DeRobbio, 1990; and Lt. Gen. Reginald A. Centracchio, 2006.
Those are some of the names on a list of 52 legendary Rhode Islanders who have been honored with the Verrazzano Day Observance Committee’s prestigious “Man of the Year” award.
Last Saturday evening before a sellout gathering of nearly 400 people inside the Venus De Milo in Swansea, Dr. Giulio G. Diamante, M.D., the medical director of Johnston-based OPTX Rhode Island, had his name added to the list of prominent Italian-Americans who have received the coveted honor since the Honorable Antonio A. Capotosto was named “Man of the Year” in 1962.
The Verrazzano Award is named in honor and memory of the late Giovanni da Verrazzano and was established in 1961 by the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, Order of Sons of Italy in America and Department of Rhode Island, Italian American War Veterans of the United States Inc.
While he thanked the Verrazzano Committee and a crowd that included esteemed members of the state’s judiciary, military, political and law enforcement establishment, as well as business people, attorneys, clergy and many other pillars of the state, Diamante was his usual appreciative yet humble self.
“We are all here with one common bond,” he began. “We aspire every day to keep our heritage and traditions alive and to make this world a better place for our children.”
Diamante, who was accompanied by his wife Lynne Diamante, Esq., a former Mrs. Rhode Island, said, “The [Verrazzano] committee exists to preserve the beliefs and dreams our ancestors had when they came to this country. I am very proud to have been chosen for this prestigious award.”
Everyone from Joseph Sauro, who did the night’s introductions, to Honorable Valentino D. Lombardi, state president and National Trustee for the Sons of Italy, to Frank Caprio, the night’s principal speaker and Municipal Court chief judge for the city of Providence, to past recipients like Johnston Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini, South Kingstown Police Chief Vincent Vespia and former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci, heaped words of praise upon a man people called one of the classiest Italian-Americans in the country.
“[Italian-American heritage] is why we are all together in this room tonight,” Diamante said amid applause. “We need to work together and make sure that future generations remember the dreams that our families set forth when coming to this country.”
And when Dr. Diamante was closing out his impressive acceptance speech, he reflected on his upbringing, saying “the values instilled in me by my parents will be with me for the rest of my life. Thank God for my parents! If it were not for them, my brothers and I would not, could not ever, be where we are today.”
Everyone from Joseph Florio Jr., state president of the Order of Sons of Italy, to the Honorable Ernest A. Almonte, who was the 2005 Verrazzano Man of the Year, concurred that Diamante is a role model for every Italian-American and epitomizes the meaning of the Verrazzano award.
Diamante is accomplished and respected as an eye physician and surgeon and has nurtured his growing ophthalmology practice for over 15 years. His insistence upon the highest quality practice in medicine is reflected with every detail. With over 30,000 microsurgical procedures performed, Diamante offers his patients unsurpassed experience, advanced eye care and unmatched surgical results.
Diamante was born in Providence to Ettore and the late Esterina Diamante. He graduated from Providence College and obtained his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine, and performed his medical internship at Brown University Medical School and his ophthalmology surgical residency at Brown University School of Medicine.
He is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and doubles as a clinical assistant professor at the Brown Medical School, teaching ophthalmology to medical students and serves as a mentor to many young ophthalmologists throughout the country.
He’s married to the former Lynne Michael. The family lives in Scituate, and they are the proud parents of a daughter, Giulia.
“Tonight, we honor a man with a long and distinguished record of service to the Rhode Island community,” read a special message inside the night’s program. “He has brought ability, dignity and caring to all he meets. We extend to Giulio Diamante, M.D., our best wishes and congratulate him on becoming the 53rd recipient of the Verrazzano Day award.”