They came from far and wide to honor a man State Rep. Roselee Vincent called “a West Revere neighborhood legend,” to pay tribute to his honorable and highly decorated record in the U.S. Navy, to recognize his service to this city, and to look back with his family on a life lived to its fullest.
As Paul Pisani Jr., so aptly stated in his beautiful remarks eulogizing his grandfather, “Papa Vinny was a man who has seen everything life has to offer. He certainly got his money’s worth, and did not get cheated in his time here.”
Vincent Cammarata Sr., died on March 31, 2019, with his devoted and faithful family surrounding him. He was 95.
Public officials pay
The Revere City Council honored Mr. Cammarata with a moment of silence at its meeting Monday night.
City Council President Arthur Guinasso said that Mr. Cammarata was “a U.S, Navy veteran, a senior code inspector at the Board of Health for 18 years in the city of Revere. He was with the Revere Parks and Recreation Commission and served in an elected capacity as a Revere School Committeeman.”
Guinasso said more importantly, Mr. Cammarata was known for his many letters to the editor that appeared in the Revere Journal.
“He was always very positive in his description of what he had to say,” related Guinasso. “And he always held in a regard that was high above. We will all certainly miss Vincent. He was a first-class family man and a first-class gentleman.”
Rep. Vincent considered Mr. Cammarata “a dear friend.”
“Vinny was a West Revere neighborhood legend who loved this city and cared about the people who live here,” said Vincent. “I was lucky enough to call Vinny a dear friend. There are many things I admire about him, but one memory I will never forget is a 90-year-old Mr. Cammarata standing at St. Mary’s holding a sign for me on Election Day the first time I ran for office.
“He was deeply committed to his friends and constantly went out of his way to help others. The world would be a happier and better place if there were more Vinny Cammaratas, and I am going to miss him very much.”
A proud grandson remembers ‘Papa’
Paul Pisani Jr. told the assemblage that he knew his mother, Rose Pisani, would ask him to deliver the eulogy.
“If you know my mom like I do, you know she was planning and prepping for everything to be perfect,” Paul told the large assemblage at St. Mary’s Church.
And his words were perfect, describing how proud he was of his grandfather fighting for his country, how important family was to him, and how blessed Mr. Cammarata’s children, Sal, John, Rose, and Vinny, felt that “they were able to call him Dad.”
“He taught them how to work hard, sacrifice, be kind to others, but most importantly how to cherish family,” said Paul thoughtfully.
He noted how lucky he was to have so many people at family events, dinners, and momentous occasions. “Why is my family always bigger than everyone’s else’s?” Paul wondered aloud.
“But as I got older I remember thinking how lucky I was to have all these people invested in my life and truly care and love me.
“Papa was the patriarch, and the driver behind our family’s love for one another. So having all of those people there was an honor.
“We always wanted to be there for each other, and Papa showed us the way,” said Paul.
He recalled all the lessons about life that he learned from his grandfather, whether it be plumbing, civil service and politics, “or the right way to use masking tape.”
He told the humorous tale of Mr. Cammarata giving his grandson, Damian Pisani, a driving lesson in the Suffolk Downs parking lot, and Damian “taking the car up on two wheels.”
“But in true Papa fashion, he calmly said, alright Dad, take it easy please.’ “And there was no greater term of endearment than Papa calling you Dad.”
Paul told how much he enjoyed his grandfather’s speeches, his homages to those who have passed, his congratulations to new members of the family, and those that emphasized love.
“It feels a little funny being at large family event where Papa is not giving one of his speeches, and I am the one giving a speech,” said Paul. “Whenever he took the microphone, or stood up, or got ready to speak, the room was captivated.”
Paul recalled the many Christmas Eve celebrations at his parents’ house when karaoke ensued, and “Papa would always sing the same song.”
“So to quote Frankie Blue Eyes (Sinatra)…I’ve lived a life that’s full. I traveled each and every highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”
“An amazing dad”
The sister to three Cammarata brothers, Rose Pisani carries on the proud family heritage that began in Sicily where Mr. Cammarata’s parents were born.
“We had all the Italian traditions growing up,” said Rose, noting that her father was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the St. Mary’s Holy Name Society.
As a father, he was second to none, a giant to his children and the family.
“He was an amazing dad,” said Rose. “If there is a word I would use to describe him, it would be ‘selfless’ – both him and my mom (Lucy).
“They were a wonderful, loving couple that raised four people that are good citizens in the world,” said Rose.
The Cammarata children were taught early in life about the importance of having a good work ethic.
“We saw my father and mother work so hard our whole lives,” said Rose.
Following the death of Mr. Cammarata’s wife 15 years ago, the family instinctively rallied around its patriarch. And a patriarch he was in the true sense of the word, making the speeches and blessings at family gatherings, most recently in November 2018 at the annual ACF (Amaru-Cammarata-Falzone) memorial mass.
“He was surrounded by so much love of his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren,” said Rose. “He used to say for all the new babies that were born, it gave him another year of life.”
Mr. Cammarata took pride in his position as the senior code officer for the Revere Board of Health.
With his quick wit, eloquence and institutional knowledge of Revere, he made his presence felt on a number of local committees. He was known as a personable guy who would go out of his way to help someone.
Rose recalled her father’s famed letter-writing skills, drawing a following in the community for his regular submissions to the Revere Journal.
“My cousin, Debbie, who I love so much, was always putting his articles in the paper and always devoted to him,” said Rose.
The last year of his life, Mr. Cammarata lived at the Leonard Florence Center for Living.
“At the Center, my father would help the other residents and always be their voice and their advocate because he was so sharp and so astute,” said Rose. “I would like to thank the Leonard Florence Center for the loving care that they showed him.”
Mr. Cammarata had a police escort for his funeral procession to his final resting place. “We were so proud of that,” said Rose.
“Ralph Vertuccio went above and beyond for him. The sendoff was fitting of the man that he was.”