Granite sculptor Vincent Illuzzi, Sr. — father of the well-known former Essex/Orleans County senator — passed away yesterday, July 31. He was 93.
Born in 1920 in Giovinazzo in southern Italy, Illuzzi immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17. He made his way to Barre, Vt., and became a granite sculptor and carver — one of the many Italian artists of the storied Barre quarries.
Illuzzi volunteered for the U.S. Army during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1946. Six years later, he married Angela Piscitelli, who was also born in Giovinazzo. The couple's three sons still live in Vermont: Vincent Jr. (Derby), Frank (Brattleboro) and Joseph (Berlin).
One of Illuzzi Sr.'s best-known commissions was for a large granite sculpture near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. It is dedicated to the liberation, freedom and independence of all citizensof captive nations, and was unveiled by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1964, with the artist in attendance.
Closer to home, one of Illuzzi Sr.'s many projects was a "book of learning" carved for the lobby of the Barre City Elementary School. He was a member of the Barre Historical Society and a supporter of the restoration of the Old Labor Hall and formation of the Barre Granite Museum. The latter is in the old granite shed where Illuzzi Sr. created many of his monuments.
Kevin J. Kelley wrote a story about Vincent Illuzzi Sr. for Seven Days in March last year. Kelley spoke with Ray Rouleau, the retired manager of the Rouleau Granite Co. plant where Illuzzi worked for about 20 years until he retired in the mid-90s. Rouleau remembered Illuzzi fondly, telling Kelley, "He was a very talented sculptor and a real gentleman."
A funeral mass will be held this Saturday, August 3, at St. Monica's Church in Barre.
Photo of Vincent Illuzzi Sr. by Kevin J. Kelley.