È scomparso un pilastro della comunità di Hamilton, la città gemellata con Racalmuto. Ha dedicato la sua vita alla famiglia e ai numerosi italiani oltreoceano. Il ricordo di Charles Criminisi della “Sicily Cultural Society”
La sera di venerdì 23 giugno, attorniato dalle sue amorevoli figlie Marita, Laura e Teresa, si è spento serenamente Nicholas Joseph Zaffiro all’età di 93 anni. La nostra comunità di Hamilton soffre di una grande perdita con la sua morte. Lascia in noi un grande vuoto che non potrà esser colmato con facilità. Quando si pensa alla comunità Italiana di Hamilton, il primo nome che viene in mente è il suo. La sua discendenza Italiana ed in particolare le radici siciliane, sono state sempre presenti in lui, in ciò che diceva, nei suoi sentimenti.
Per la maggior parte della sua vita ha cercato di rendere il mondo un posto migliore, prendendosi cura di chi aveva bisogno. Molto di ciò che ha realizzato è stato fatto grazie la Sons of Italy (Figli d’Italia), adesso Sons & Daughters of Italy (Figli e Figlie d’Italia), l’associazione di cui a lungo è stato socio e leader. Il suo contributo si è rivelato essenziale per la fondazione della Corporazione di Carità dei Figli d’Italia, che ha dato il via alla costruzione di Villa Italia 20 anni fa, un luogo che oggi è la casa di molti anziani italiani e non che vengono accuditi come se fossero a casa con i loro familiari.
Ha iniziato la sua carriera da avvocato nel 1955. Insieme al suo amico racalmutese John Agrò ha fondato uno studio legale che oggi si chiama “Agro Zaffiro LLP”. Questo, infatti, è il nome con cui verrà sempre chiamato. Nicholas Zaffiro non era soltanto un avvocato, ma un fidato consigliere, confidente ed amico per molti dei suoi clienti. Possedeva un’incredibile capacità di fare amicizia con le persone, di metterle a proprio agio qualsiasi fosse il motivo del loro turbamento. Amava conversare ed era famoso per la sua abilità nel raccontare storie.
(Traduzione: Adele Maria Troisi)
In ricordo di Nicholas Joseph Zaffiro: Community Pillar, Lawyer, Family Patriarch
With his passing, our community has suffered a great loss and is left with a large empty space that cannot be easily filled. When one thinks of the Italian community in Hamilton, his name is one of the first that comes to mind. His Italian heritage and, in particular Sicilian roots, were always evident in his mind, in what he said, and how he felt.There is not enough space here to list and describe all his accomplishments and portray the impact he had on his beloved Hamilton and Canada. Here are but a few examples.
From a very early age he came to realize what it meant to be part of a country of immigrants from diverse places. At the age of 10 his father was interned by the Canadian government as a result of Canada and its allies being at war with Italy, Germany and their associated countries. This caused Nicholas to quickly mature, helping his mother and sisters to carry on during the long years that his father Francesco was in the internment camps. Moving forward to the 1990s until 2021, he fought tirelessly and tenaciously to persuade the Canadian government that what they had done to his father and thousands of other citizens of Italian descent was wrong and deserving of an apology, which was finally made by Prime Minister Trudeau on May 27, 2021.
During much of his life he sought to make the world a better place by looking after those in need. He did much of this via the Sons of Italy (now Sons & Daughters of Italy) of which he was a long-time member and leader. He was instrumental in founding the Sons of Italy Housing Corporation which built and operated housing for those who cannot afford market rent. For the past 40 plus years, this organization has provided shelter for those in need. He was also a key part of the founding of Sons of Italy Charitable Corporation, which built Villa Italia 20 years ago, a place that is home to many Italian and non-Italian seniors who are cared for as they would be in their own homes with their own families.
This morning I participated in a tour of what will become the future Italian Cultural &Community Center, a 55,000square foot facility. This project is inspired by the past accomplishments of people such as Nicholas Zaffiro. This is his impact. This is his legacy.
He has received many community awards including Sons of Italy Citizen of the Year. There are too many to list here. He has truly been a pillar of the community. With one of its main pillars gone, we are left unstable. It will be a long time before this empty space can be filled again.
He was a lawyer, beginning in 1955. Together with fellow Racalmutese John Agro, he founded a law firm which is now called Agro Zaffiro LLP. In fact, this is the name it will be called in perpetuity. Nicholas Zaffiro not only was a lawyer but a trusted advisor, confident and friend to many of his clients. He had an uncanny ability to quickly befriend people and put them at ease regarding whatever matter was troubling them. He loved to converse and was a legendary storyteller. He was well respected by all he encountere he encountered. These qualities went a long way to making him such a popular and successful legal advisor.
On a personal note, he was responsible for my being hired at Agro Zaffiro, took me under his wing and shaped me into the lawyer that I eventually became. He was my mentor and a role model who I continue to emulate to this day. He not only taught me the finer points of the law, but also how one can be a professional while also using the skills, status, and position of a lawyer to do good in the world. He is the reason I have devoted much of my adult life to community work. I am blessed to have known him for this and forever in his debt. I often said that I had two fathers: my biological one Giovanni who, together with my mother Grazia, raised me to be the person I am from the point of view of family values and all that they taught me, and my father in the law, Nicholas, who shaped me as a lawyer and community contributor. I have been very fortunate.
Finally, and most importantly, Nicholas Zaffiro’s most important impact and achievement in his life has been as the Patriarch of his family. First as a devoted son to his parents Maria Maddalena and Francesco, looking after them and making them proud of by his achievements and reputation. Then as a loving husband to his wife Nellida who passed away too young in her 50s. Nicholas and Nellida raised three beautiful daughters: Marita, Laura and Teresa who sought his wise counsel and advice on all matters of life, business, and family and who loved him and cherished him until his last day on this earth. I know that there is much pain in their hearts as well as in that of their spouses and children. My hope and prayer is that, with time, his memory and all that he was, achieved, and represented will give them solace and stay with them as they carry on and continue his legacy.