by Cate Murway
Vincent Anthony Virgulti is the youngest son of the 5 children born to Nazzareno [1894-1988] and Anna Assunta Virgulti [1909-1998] who migrated from Castel diLima in the peaceful Province of Ascoli Piceno, Italy, to historic Bristol on the Delaware.
They were one of the over twelve million immigrants who entered the USA through the portal of Ellis Island in the upper NY Harbor, escaping poverty in their country and becoming free to begin their new lives and establish new roots in America. Nazzareno proudly became an American citizen on May 29, 1925 and Anna declared her citizenship on September 3, 1947.
The small island had been called Kioshk, Oyster, Dyre, Bucking and Anderson's Island before a colonial New York merchant, Samuel Ellis became the island's private owner in the 1770's. Ellis died in 1794, and in 1808 New York State purchased the island from his family for $10,000.
Nazzareno and Anna came to America in 1917, settling first in Steubenville, OH where coal production had steadily and rapidly increased because of the improved methods of transportation and mining. Their next stop was for more coal mining in Pittsburgh but “he decided he would rather die than continue mining for the rest of his life.” There were family connections in Bristol. His brother, Agostino and his wife, Catherine [Galie] Virgulti, were the proprietors of “Gus’ Tavern”, a profitable business on Wood Street, serving hot meals to the people from the local mills.
The first family home was established on Hayes Street and then on Farragut Avenue before they moved to the homestead on Wilson Avenue. “I saw Senator Grundy as a kid in his chauffeured limo and my father worked at his textile mill.” His mother had plenty to do raising their children, Margaret, who died in infancy, Gabriel “Gabe”, Robert, Joseph, George and Vincent.
“Everyone’s mother is first class, but I’m telling you, my mother was really first class”.
During his teen years, Vince worked at Mazzanti’s Market at the Seaside Heights location, before graduating from LaSalle University and Penn State University, where he taught for several decades.
Bristol was once just a lucrative place for unskilled immigrants. “A lot has changed in Bristol. It was an Industrial Revolution town but now it has become more gentrified.”
The Italian-American populace has amalgamated into the general population but many wish to maintain connection with their past. Vince is still focused on promoting the Sister City Project, economic ties, strengthening cultural understanding and nurturing cooperation and collaboration between the municipality of Spinetoli, a province of Ascoli Piceno, Italy and Bristol Borough. Vince’s eldest brother, the late Seaman 1st Class Gabriel Emidio “Gabe” and the late Rose [Brady] Virgulti of Philadelphia, had five children.
“My dad saw her walking down the street when she was leaving from the movie theatre,” Donna shared.
Donna Virgulti, the BHS ’76 homecoming queen is Gabe and Rose’s second youngest. She has only heartfelt, fond memories of their life on the 300 block of Jefferson Avenue.
“My mother was an amazing artist and she made us everything. She made sure we all had maxi coats and she made the patterns from newspaper. The coats were lined and they were beautiful.”
Her mother worked at the Bristol Bridal Center. “Most wonderful memories with my mom are the ones working in the kitchen with her.” Her father was the president of the Pipefitter’s Union at Rohm and Haas as well as the chairman of the Democratic committee.
“I remember he was very social and had a great sense of humor,” shared one of his classmates, Francis “Fran” Danis, BHS ’46, the former proprietor of Danis’ Market and Catering.
Donna especially loved the Christmas Parade and the fact that “everyone would come back to our home for a big pot of soup”. Steamed crab feasts were fun on the hill of her grandmother’s, “Bella Nonna’s” home.
“She was the rock of the family.
J.G. McCrory's on Mill Street and Mazzanti’s Market on Lincoln Avenue were the favorite shopping places.
“I was a tomboy. We were on the river all the time.”
She smiles as she recalls their “carnivals” in the alleys with wagon rides.
Donna has four children, including her proud adoption of her sister’s son, Michael.
Nazzareno is the namesake of her grandfather, then Zachary “it’s a very masculine name” and Mariah. “I loved Mariah Carey! It’s Hebrew for ‘Star of the Sea”.
Mariah, the outstanding 2010 John Fisher Citizen Scholar Award recipient,
is pursuing a degree in speech pathology at Temple University.
Their proud grandfather, Gabe took his three grandsons to see the Virgulti family name etched into the steel plates on The American Immigrant Wall of Honor just outside the Great Hall at Ellis Island.
In her teens, Donna volunteered at a local nursing home. She received her beautician license from Gordon Phillips Beauty School and currently works part-time at the D’Orazio Barber Shop in Fairless Hills. Donna also earned her black belt and Kickboxing Certification and has taught Unified Martial Arts.
Donna lives with what she loves and she has given her home her personal stamp. Her rooms jolt of personality and interest with walls of well- framed, well-arranged photos and cherished family heirlooms. They help convey her heritage and her family history, suggesting memories and generating emotions.
But she is packing up her keepsakes, emptying her Radcliffe Street house that was built in the late 1700’s. Donna will sincerely miss historic Bristol Borough. The Virgulti voyage continues.
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Zachary, Nazzareno, Mariah, Michael
Nazzareno pointing to Virgulti name on Ellis Island
Donna and her Uncle Vince
Robert E. Virgulti, of Bristol, PA, passed away peacefully at Lower Bucks Hospital on May 6, 2015
surrounded by his loving family. He was 86 years old. Born and raised in Bristol Borough,
he was a retired maintenance leader for Rohm & Haas in Bristol Borough.
Previously, he worked as a cabinet maker. Bob was a Sergeant 1st Class in the U.S. Army
during the Korean War where he served in the 432 Engineers Construction Battalion in Germany.
He was a member of the American Legion, the V.F.W. Terchon Post, the Bristol Elks,
the Moose Lodge 1169, the St. Ann Athletic Assoc., and the Italian Mutual Aid 5th Ward Assoc. Bob was always ready to help anyone, and during his younger days he mentored his brothers in construction skills; and later did the same for his nephews.
He was predeceased by his oldest brother Gabriel; his brother Joseph; and his parents Nazzareno and Anna Virgulti. He will be greatly missed by his brothers George and his wife Rita, and Vincent with whom he resided. He is also survived by his long-time friend and companion Joann Tosti; and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank his caregiver Gocha Dmetradze. Relatives and friends are invited to call Tuesday, 9am, at St. Ann Church, 357 Dorrance Street, Bristol, PA. Funeral Mass will begin at 10:30am. Interment will follow in St. Mark Cemetery. The family requests donations to Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675.
Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:28 pm
Donna Marie Virgulti passed away Saturday, May 21, 2016 at her home. She was 58.
Born in Bristol and daughter of the late Gabriel and Rose (Brady) Virgulti, she was a Bristol Borough resident most of her life. Donna was a graduate of Bristol High School and worked as a hairdresser for many years.
She is survived by her four children, Michael Battistini, Nazzareno Strobele, Zachary Strobele and Mariah Strobele; and by her two grandchildren; Athena and Adrian.
The family will receive friends from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m., Friday, May 27, at the Wade Funeral Home, 1002 Radcliffe Street, Bristol Borough, followed by her Memorial Mass, 10:30 a.m., at St. Mark Church, Bristol. Interment will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to NOVA (Network of Victim Assistance) 2370 York Road, Suite B1, Jamison, PA 18929.Wade Funeral Home, Bristol Borough
Robert Joseph Strobele, Sr. passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 10, 2018,
surrounded by his loving family, after a long courageous battle with cancer. He was 82. Born in Bristol, son of the late William and Florence Strobele, he was a lifelong resident. He was the owner/operator of Bug Zappers Exterminating. Mr. Strobele was a graduate of Bristol High School and excelled on the Basketball team. He was loved by all those who had the good fortune of knowing him.
He is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Rita (nee Dugan) Strobele, his children; Renee Virgulti, Robert Strobele, Jr. and Randall Strobele (Marboly) and will be sadly missed by his grandchildren; Joshua Virgulti, Marina Virgulti, Nazzareno Strobele, Michael Battastini (Dileni), Zachary Strobele, Mariah Strobele, Austin Strobele and Juan Puppo. He is also survived by 2 great-grandchildren; Adrian and Athena and 3 nieces, Linda, Christine and Sandra. He was predeceased by his brother, Howard Strobele and a sister, Dorothy Vandegrift.
The family would like to thank Bayada Hospice and Pinky Kermeh for the wonderful care they gave to Robert.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend his Memorial Service on Friday, February 16, 2018, 11:00am at the Wade Funeral Home, 1002 Radcliffe Street, Bristol Borough. Friends may call Friday 10-11:00am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. James the Greater Episcopal Church, 225 Walnut Street, Bristol, Pa 19007.