THE Mildura Weekly edition of November 27, 2009, featured a story about the impending 70th wedding anniversary of Francesco Deluca and his wife Maria, and showcased the life of the Italian Second World War veteran who migrated to Australia in 1950.
Today the ‘Weekly is delighted to be honouring Francesco once again − this time on the occasion of his 100th birthday!
Sadly, Maria passed away in 2012 and Francesco has been living at Bupa aged care for almost a year now, but he still keeps active walking up and down the corridors each morning.
Francesco has lead a rich life, marrying his 19-year-old sweetheart, Maria Vellone on November 26, 1939, at the Catholic church in San Nicola, his hometown.
But war was brewing in Europe, and Francesco had been conscripted into the Italian Army, and was lucky to be able to marry before being shipped off.
He spent the next three years – from 1940 to 1943 – in Albania. However, during what were to be the final months of his service, Francesco contracted malaria and was sent to a military hospital to recover.
He never saw active service again, returning to his family in San Nicola after Italy formally withdrew from hostilities on September 8, 1943.
For the next seven years he struggled to make a decent living for his family and decided to migrate to Australia.
Finally, after three years of hard work and saving every penny, Francesco was able to put a deposit on his own fruit block in Seventh Street, near Etiwanda Avenue, in 1953.
In June that same year, Francesco, without any government assistance, was able to afford to bring his family to Australia.
At the time of their anniversary, Francesco and Maria received congratulatory messages from The Queen, The Vatican, Australia’s Governor-General Quentin Bryce, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, and various State and Federal MPs.
I imagine there might be one or two letters from some notable figures on this occasion too!
Happy birthday from the team at the ‘Weekly, Francesco!