Innocenzo, or Enzo or Inno as he was known to family and friends, was born in Grassano, Italy on April 23, 1927. He grew up during depressed economic times and under difficult circumstances in the farmlands of southern Italy. He lost his mother at the age of five, and with his father working abroad in Africa, was left to be raised by his grandmother. He had to quit school and work on a farm at the age of eight to make ends meet. He was in the Italian military for 18 months just after World War II. He then spent five years in Belgium working in underground coal mines.
He immigrated to Canada in the spring of 1957 in search of a better life, but before he left he was introduced to Adriana Destefano and the two began their courtship. Inno ended up in Wells, BC, working at the Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine. He and Adriana wrote letters back and forth for over a year. She came over on October 25, 1958 to join him in Wells, after a “marriage by proxy,” on April 12, 1958. Their four daughters were born in Wells, and after they moved to Williams Lake in 1965, they had their two boys.
Inno worked briefly at the Hendrix Lake mine and the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. He then got a job with West Fraser in 1966, which at the time was right across the street from the family home on what was known as Glendale Drive (now Mackenzie Avenue). Inno was known for his hard work, strength, honesty, humour, and good nature at West Fraser and worked there until he retired at the age of 65 in 1991.
Inno loved fishing and hunting, and his passion for gardening was obvious when you saw his yard. He took great pleasure in hosting family and friends for meals at the house where he provided homemade wine and vegetables from the garden, while Adriana cooked up the fabulous Italian meals.
Innocenzo is lovingly remembered by his wife of 58 years, Adriana; his children Maria (Peter), Gina (Mark), Linda (Peter), Gabriella (James), and Mauro (Kendra); his grandchildren Aaron (Jessica), Nico, Aiden, Keira, Massimo, Luca, Alessandro, and Matteo; his sister, Anna, of Prato, Italy; and his step-grandchildren, Brittany, Craig (Courtney), and Bryan (Adrienne). Inno was predeceased by his son Nino, his brothers Francesco and Nicola, and his parents Giuseppe Calabrese and Maria Luberto.
The family extends a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Hicks, Dr. Longland, the staff at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital and Deni House, and the Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy team.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cariboo Foundation Hospital Trust or the Nino Calabrese Memorial Bursary (through PMT Accounting).
The funeral mass will be at 2:00 pm, Saturday May 14 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church with a reception to follow at 3:30 in the Gibraltar Room.
LaPrairie’s Funeral Services entrusted with arrangements.