Honoring Zach Sansone

October 7, 2011 Denise Romano
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His name will live on forever.

Last month, 59th Street between 14th and 15th Avenues wasrenamed Zachary Sansone Way, after the late social activist whodied in June, 2010.

Sansone – who with wife Mary founded the Congress of ItalianAmerican Organizations (CIAO), one of the city’s largest socialservice agencies — was born in the U.S., but moved back to Italyat the age of 12 because his mother believed in Italian education.He graduated from the University of Benevento and became alawyer.

His widow, now 95, explained that her husband was forced toserve in the Italian army during World War II, even though he wasan American citizen. He served in Yugoslavia for a couple of years.When he got out, he was voted mayor of a town near Naples.

He served there for a year or to, then came back to the U.S.,Sansone said. He was disillusioned with politics in Italy.

When Sansone returned to the states, he looked for his wife,since their families knew each other back in Italy. Three monthslater, they were married.

I was a social worker and he was a lawyer, Sansone recalled.Over their 40 years of work, they opened numerous daycare, seniorand social service centers not just in southwest Brooklyn butthroughout all of New York City.

Of course, he and I worked together, Sansone said. He was theman behind me. The ideas were his, but I put them into place. Hewas a very humble and laid back person. He did a lot, but didn’tlike anyone to know about it.

Councilmember Domenic Recchia, who spearheaded the streetnaming, praised Sansone. Zach’s passing left an indelible efforton our neighborhood, he said. A great man was lost and therenaming is the perfect way to honor his life and legacy.

He was tireless in his efforts for change and to make lifebetter for all who needed a helping hand, Recchia added, notingthat Sansone served as an advisor to many elected officials,including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.Zachary Sansone was an inspiration to every life that he touched.He never had a discouraging word and was always supportive.

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