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Obituary: Harold L. Maddalena, 91, WWII Veteran

Harold L. Maddalena, 91, passed away on March 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm, at 91 years of age.

He was born in East Greenwich on August 10, 1922. He was the 4th of 5 children of Lodovico (Louis) and Christina Maddalena. He has one surviving sister, Gloria Mulhearn, of Concord, New Hampshire, her daughter Shirley DellaVentura who was like the daughter he never had, and several other nieces and nephews. Siblings, Yolanda Librizzi and Janet Pinto, and brother Armand have previously passed away.

He was a loving father & grandfather, always demonstrating great patience and generosity. He is survived by his son Fred, and Fred's wife, Linda, two grand children, Cheryl and Roger Maddalena, and 6 great-grand children, Andrew and Jackson Kiehlbauch, and Owen, Luke, Isaac and Henry Maddalena.

He taught us to cherish our family and to “Count Your Blessings” because we have much for which to be thankful. He graduated from the East Greenwich Academy in 1941, and the University of Rhode Island (Rhode Island State College at the time) in 1947. He served in the infantry in WWII and was severely wounded in Normandy, France on August 10, 1944. He was employed by the Department of the Navy in the Overhaul & Repair group at the Quonset Navel Air Station.

He was a founder and long-serving president of the East Greenwich Credit Union. He was a member of The Our Lady of Mercy Church, and will be interred in St. Patrick's Cemetery in East Greenwich. He was a member of the Italo-American Club, the VFW, the American Legion, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and several other civic organizations.

His funeral service was Saturday, March 8th at 2:00pm at the Hill Funeral Home, 822 Main St., East Greenwich. Visitation will be prior to the service from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. Burial will be private. Donations may be made to The Seasons of East Greenwich, or St. Elizabeth's to whom the family is thankful for the excellent care provided in his later years.

From Frederick Louis Proud To Be His Son.

My dad has always been a stabilizing force in my life. He taught me about the important things, and why they were important. He was also a chemist, and somehow chemistry and math became my favorite classes in high school, leading me to become a chemical engineer. When I was around 10 years old, my dad would take me along with him on weekends and in the summers to work on the old houses he bought as investments. He gave me my first real, but very small hammer..

I learned from him lessons in plumbing, wiring, roofing, carpentry and painting, and how valuable these things would be for me one day. Working on the houses was like a second job for him, and I learned that work was important, and to be proud of doing a good job. Thanks Dad, for teaching me the satisfaction in a job well done. Dad often talked to me about the importance of saving money, and the security that would give me. I assumed that all parents were teaching their kids this. When I was 15, Dad agreed to let me put my life savings, along with his additional financing, into buying a little house on Long Street. He taught me how to save the rental payments for taxes and repairs, and how to budget ahead for those things. I kept my own ledger for this investment, which later became the down payment for building my own house. Thanks Dad, for giving me the foresight to plan ahead for the big things. Dad taught me about forgiveness. When I accidentally crashed his car into the deacon's car during a snowstorm, he forgave me. When I caused a minor explosion in the basement with my first and only chemistry kit, he forgave me. When I later was seriously burned in a college chemistry lab, he sat quietly in my hospital room for 10 days, never blaming me, always encouraging me to put this mistake behind me, and carry on.

Thanks Dad for your forgiveness when I needed it. Dad consistently taught me about having strong family roots, and that I should take pride in all the hardship my family had overcome before me. He would tell the stories of his family history with enjoyment, passing on every detail of their coming to America, and surviving the Great Depression. He loved and appreciated his parents and all they sacrificed for their children. .

Thanks Dad for loving me and sacrificing for me. When I was a boy, my dad sometimes would take me out for a Sunday dinner at Old Acres restaurant. We would dress appropriately, sit at a table near the fireplace, and I would order a “Shirley Temple” cocktail. He taught me how to order from a menu, use my utensils, and basically how to behave in a grownup world. He wanted me to be comfortable in all social situations, and never be ashamed or fearful that I wasn't good enough.

There were still many prejudices during that time, and he wanted me to be able to rise above it. Thank you Dad for giving me the courage to take my place in this world. I have always felt Dad's love. I knew I was the center of his world. Thank you Dad for showing me what devotion really is. I cannot imagine my life without my father. I still feel him in me.

I guess the best way to honor him is to live my life well, with no regrets, and continue teaching my children and six grandsons about the important things. Thank you Dad for being a wonderful example.

From Linda Jean My Other Dad Harold has been my father in law for 45 years now. He has given me many things, but the best gift of all was his encouragement and his love. Along the way he taught me how to cook some Italian dishes, how to refinish furniture, and how to save money for the really important things, among many other lessons. At times he was my second father, offering little gems of advice. He once told me I could be the “dark horse”, the one who no one expected to succeed. It was at a time when I really needed to hear that. Harold began a tradition of hosting family dinners at restaurants, in order to keep his extended Maddalena family connected. For our immediate family, he would take us to the finest restaurants to expose his grandchildren to every kind of food and experience. He also understood that they would need to know how to eat properly in all situations. Harold was always looking toward their futures and investing for their college educations. This soldier of World War II was a dependable and consistent dad,, a patient father in law, and a loving and generous grandpa. He was the one who cared for both of his parents in their later years, and felt it was a privilege. I love this man, and hope to pass along his history and values to his six grandsons. Buona saluta Dad! Centi anni! (clink) Linda

From Cheryl Jean

We grandchildren always knew we were one hundred percent loved by Grandpa Harold. When we were younger, all year we would anticipate our yearly journey to Rhode Island: a long, laborious car ride of sibling bickering that ended at sunset at 15 Lion Street, where the orange and yellow sunset filtered through an arbor of green leaves and sweet grapes with thick bitter skins. We knew the journey had truly reached its destination only when we had climbed the cement steps to the side door to find the welcoming smile and arms of Grandpa Harold (and when I was very young, great-grandpa also). Every vacation began with a trip to the grocery to buy any cereal we wanted and ended with a fancy dinner complete with the invitation to order anything on the menu and instructions on how to do so properly. Grandpa Harold provided me with opportunities I couldn't have had without his support, like tuition for a college-level summer school when I was in high school, and a skiing trip out west to experience the Rockies. Grandpa was a great proponent of my education in all of its wandering path and of my poetry career, always encouraging me to continue on with his unflagging upbeat attitude that I grew to respect more and more over the years as I realized how deliberate his choice to be positive must be.

I learned so much about the value of a stable and stalwart friend from Grandpa Harold, and I hope in the rest of my life I carry that forth to the ones I love, like he loved me.

From Roger Louis Father. Brother. Soldier. Friend. Encouragement was a theme that Grandpa nurtured in his family. “Keep on plugging” was his advice for one and all. Our pursuit of education, choice of career path and determination to raise a family all were met by his consistent, loving reminder to take life as it comes, and keep taking steps toward your dreams. His lineage, now expanded from two grandchildren to six great-grandsons, can infer from his mantra, “I can't complain”, a life lived with grace and humility. Siblings. He had a handful. You would have been blessed to know the intimacy of this Italian immigrant family. Baby sister Gloria is still going strong, the last of their generation. I am left with fond memories of dinner parties, packed with his clan, where Grandpa tasked me, on the verge of puberty, with ordering all of the hors d'oeuvres and even the wine, so long as it was Pinot Grigio. Children in my home have a super-sized infatuation with World War II. It could be because all of their great-grandfathers were American soldiers in combat. Or, more to the point, they would not have come into existence were it not for penicillin. Grandpa's injuries, inflicted by a German mortar near St. Lo, France two months after D-Day, were severe and required a new medicine called an antibiotic to stave off infection. Before this battle, which ended on his 22nd birthday, and during his long recovery, he read a military-issued bible, cover to cover, twice. What I wouldn't give to hold that very book that gave him encouragement, and enough hope to keep on living. One of Grandpa's last wishes to my Dad and I was “Travel. Enjoy yourself.” Boy, did he ever! A month in Italy with his best friend Joe Zaino, followed by Indonesia, Egypt and a trip down the Orinoco River with his sweetheart Rosalind Beadle helped to fill his memory banks with adventure. Did he make friends and pronounce them members of the Turtle Club? You bet your sweet ass he did! The best of parenthood, I think, is reserved for grandparents. Thank you, Grandpa Harold, for your unwavering love. It is a beacon to me. I await our reunion some day, with clean hearts and ever-healthy bodies, where sorrow is no more, and we dance together in the land of the living.
Alicarn March 09, 2014 at 11:00 AM
What a wonderful loving tribute. You all were so lucky to have him in your lives. My condolences to the family.

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