F. Paul Selvaggio
Frank Paul Selvaggio, Sr., 88, of Springfield, died at 6:45 p.m., on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at IL Veteran’s Home in Quincy, IL. He was born on October 10, 1924 in Springfield to Leonardo and Anna Fiasconaro Selvaggio. He married Donna L. Wells on July 30, 1949 and she survives.
Also surviving are two daughters, Paula Marie (Ed) Parkinson of Springfield and Leann (Mike) Fitzgerald of Rochester; one son Frank Paul (Barbara) Selvaggio, Jr., of Springfield; three grandchildren, Allie, Michael and Tyler Fitzgerald; one brother, Jasper (Carolyn) Selvaggio of Chatham and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Preceding him in death are his parents, three brothers, Joseph, Pat and Vincent Selvaggio and one sister, Pearl Mounce.
Paul was a resident of Springfield all of his life. He co-owned The Music Shop for 37 years. He worked for the Illinois Secretary of State for 10 years. He was a World War II Veteran serving in both the Navy, as a surgical technician and the Marines as a medical field technician.
Paul enjoyed organizing golf outings, playing golf, watching baseball and listening to classical music. He spent many hours watching his grandchildren in their sports activities.
He was a member of St. Agnes Church, Knights of Columbus, Elks Lodge and Italian American War Veterans and Roman Cultural Society, serving as past president. He served as Republican Precinct Committeeman for 16 years.
Visitation: 9:30 – 11:30 am, Thursday, January 10, 2013 at St. Agnes Church.
Funeral Mass: 11:30 am, Thursday, January 10, 2013 at St. Agnes Church with Reverend Robert Jallas officiating. Burial will follow at Camp Butler National Cemetery, where military honors will be conducted by the Sangamon County Interveterans Burial Detail.
Memorial Contributions may be made to Quincy Veterans Home or Masses at St. Agnes Church.
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I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Mr. Selvaggio. My thoughts are with the family. Mr. and Mrs. Selvaggio were neighbors of my parents, on Verna Dr. Seems we are losing far too many of their generation.
When I was a teenager in school until I married and moved out of state in 1959, I was a customer of The Music Shop. Paul and Irv were so helpful if I needed help remembering the name of a song or album I'd heard and wanted to purchase. Today's customer's can't imagine what it is like to "try out" the records by listening to them prior to purchase in a sound-proof booth. When I saw the obit, I remembered all the conversations I'd had at that store about music, as I studied voice and dance. Ironically, I also remembered the name of the shop: The Music Shop - Record Rendevous. The beautiful story his granddaughter wrote sounds much like the stories my own husband and his Italian parents have shared with us, our children and grandchildren. These are good people! There is much to learn from their experiences. God Bless!
Leann & Mike, Sorry to hear about the passing of Leann dad. You and your family are in my prayers. (I think of you guys offen during the summer during baseball season. And, more when I read abut your son Mike in the paper. Also, both my Mom and Dad were in the Vet. Home in Quincy.) Fran McBride former St.Louis Cardinal Baseball Mom.
Our deepest sympathy to the family and the wonderful memories of the past. I knew brother Joe better as we graduated from Lanphier High school in the same class. God bless------John Roberts
Jasper, Mark, Tony and all family: Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this most difficult time. May you find strength, peace and comfort in your warm and loving memories. Sorry for your loss.
This was written by Allie after spending time with her Grandpa in December 2011. Frank Paul Selvaggio is my loving, Italian grandfather who I got the pleasure of interviewing for my paper. Paul, as he is known, was born on October 10, 1924 in Springfield, Illinois. He is currently 87 years old and lives in his home with my 84 year old grandmother, Donna. After talking to Paul for over two hours, I was able to capture memorable stories from his childhood, adulthood, and present, which I am happy to share. Childhood Paul was born to Leo Selvaggio and Anna. Leo was brought over from Italy by his father, who made the trip several times to bring his siblings over one by one. When asked about his birth, Paul said that Dr. Martini came to the house after his family’s next door neighbor helped his mother with the delivery. After the birth, his father and the doctor sat at the kitchen table and drank wine, which led the doctor to forget to take Paul’s birth certificate to the county for three days. October 13th was on his record until his parents were able to get it changed. Paul was named after his father’s brother who lived in the second half of the duplex where his family lived. He was the second oldest of six kids, five boys and one girl. Paul could remember way back to the very first house he grew up in. He said this duplex had a large garden in the backyard, where his family raised chickens, rabbits, and goats. An interesting part of Paul’s childhood was the time he grew up in. His father was involved with the Prohibition (1920-1933) and would get liquor from Chicago which he would store down in a hold in the garage. Paul remembers people from St. Louis (possible mafia association) arriving at his house to pick up the liquor and pay his father. These were times of the depression and Paul said that his father would do anything for extra money to support the family. Paul’s father was a coal miner and was lucky to work 2-3 days of the week. Many waited to hear on the radio each night if they would get work the next day. His father eventually got caught selling the liquor and spent a year in jail. During most of his childhood, Paul’s family was merely living on welfare. Paul went to school every day but there was no homework. The children just had to prove that they could read, and nobody taught him anything. As for Paul and his siblings, if they worked and made money, they would give it to their parents. Paul sold newspapers and for every paper he received 1 cent. He recalled, “I don’t think I spent a day not crying. I always did wrong. I was an ornery child.” Paul’s father would whip them with a stick or belt to punish them. Adulthood After Paul turned 18, he entered the service as a part of the U.S. Navy in February of 1942. When describing his years in the service, Paul said “You look at kids today at 18 and you just see children. We didn’t know any better, we had a war to go to.” At the time, 16 million men were recruited to go to WWII, and 10% are still living (a fact my grandfather heard on radio a few months ago). Paul was sent out to San Diego, California, for military training, where they lived in the confinements of an old zoo. Gates were taken down where the animals lived and cleaned up to make room for bunks and lockers. It is here that Paul joined the medical team in the navy. A friend of his was epileptic, and he was familiar with this disease from working at the hospital at home. When his friend was having a seizure, a man tried to hold him up and breathe, but Paul cleared the area and got a soft object to put in his mouth so that he wouldn’t bite his tongue. Since he did not have the schooling to have adequate medical training, it did not occur to him he would join the medical staff. However, his chief officer liked what he saw and asked him to join their medic staff. His first training was hands on work with tonsillectomies. Then he was placed in the surgery medical ward, where he would finish the surgeries by suturing the patients. During this time, school was not important for men were serving the country during the war. Hands on experience was the way the military men learned their jobs. After two and half years of working in medical unit, he was transferred to the Marine Corp, and finally home when the war ended. By this time he was home, the war was over for about 1 year. Paul remembers how everything was quieter at that time, and he started looking for a job. After the war he knew he did not want to go back to the hospital. He was unsure what he wanted to do. A family friend taught him how to run a store and about retail and bookkeeping. He wanted to start his own store, so relative from Peoria who owned Klaus Radio helped get him started. He borrowed $4000 from friend who became his silent partner, and he opened the Record Rendezvous in Springfield. Paul ran his own music store< "The Music Shop" and later worked for the state of Illinois, sec. of state, until retirement. Around age 24, he went with some friends who lived next door to visit a family in the country, the Wells. My grandfather noticed a picture of a beautiful girl in the dining room. Some girl came in from field with overalls on and towel wrapped around her hair. She went into kitchen to clean up and my grandfather noticed it was the same girl from the picture. He fell in love with her right then. It was on July 30, 1959 (at age 25) when Paul married Donna Lee Wells in a chapel room by a family priest. The married couple started out with only $600.00 in their savings. They had the joy of introducing three children to the world: Paula, Frank and Leann. Present At the time of the interview, I asked Paul reflection questions on his life and family. I asked him how he felt about raising his children- what was the best part? What was the hardest part? What make him most proud? Paul said that the hardest part was he was never around when the children were growing up. He worked 6 days a week 8:30 am- 8:30pm. Their mother raised them, for she had a car at the time and was able to drive them around where ever they went. He joined a bowling league with his 4 brothers and on Sundays he would golf, which kept him even busier. At the time, he wanted to have time to enjoy his hobbies after working hard all week. However, he gives all credit to his wife for raising the kids. He is most proud at how his children respected their mother. Next, I asked Paul how the present is compared to his past. When he was younger during the hard times they didn’t know better and couldn’t afford anything. According to Paul, “not knowing any better meant they were happy.” They were able to play outside safely and not worry about traffic or danger. They had to be home for supper, and whatever was on the table they ate. Today, everyone is spoiled and society doesn’t know how to handle it. Not many people know what it is like to live back then. Paul would rather have companionship of years ago, than the times of today. Though, he likes what he has today. He has all the things anyone could dream of. He would never have expected back then that he would have what he has today: a home, stable income, paid off debt and funeral plans, and savings put away for children and grandchildren. The most important thing to him now is a happy family. Aging When it comes to aging, I was curious to ask Paul how he felt now about growing older- the hardest part and the best part. According to him, the best part is watching his grandchildren grow up. The hardest part is the aches and pain he’s developed which becomes very uncomfortable. Paul suffers from arthritis/carpal tunnel in hands/fingers. His shoulder that was injured a while back cannot be relaxed without hurting. He has had several surgeries: broken ankle, hip replacement about 15 years ago, knee replacement, and a spinal tap. He feels lucky for his ankle, knee and hip surgeries turned out great. The hardest part, however, is his back pain and spinal pain. Paul says that growing old has good and bad parts. He enjoys being around, but wished there wasn’t a lot of pain. Though, he admits, “it’s life, you can’t have one without the other.” According to Paul, a person should prepare for old age by being financially prepared. He believes that saving is a huge concern for him. He said that if he and his wife had not invested in the right insurance they would have probably had to sell their house by now paying for medical bills. He believes that he got the right insurance at the right time. Another important issue to Paul is education and health. He was not fortunate to have an educated background so he tries to read daily on the benefits of diet and exercise. At 87, he admits it is too difficult for him to get around and exercise like he should have been doing his entire life. Though, he never knew any better. The interview of my grandfather definitely showed me the differences in times. This is an essential part of what we are learning in class because those who are over the age of 75 did not live in a time where nutrition and exercise were of importance. What was important back then was survival, especially through the depression- trying to support a family and provide food on the tables. With the wars, young men were leaving their homes and education was not important either. This generation was never taught the benefits of living healthy, active lives, which is why today’s society is stressing the importance of education to the elderly more and more. I believe my grandfather is lucky to be living at the age of 87, especially with the unhealthy lifestyle he has lived. However, many other older adults are in worse conditions which could have been preventable 5-10+ years ago if they only “knew” what other measures to take to live longer. Listening to my grandfather speak really touched my heart deeply. He has taught me my value of education through his stories. He told me his best lesson is to be honest with everyone- “be truthful and respectful, and then once you know you’ve been honest you do not have to change your story.” Back in the day, everyone knew their neighbors and trusted every stranger. Today, trust is a hard thing to come across. The one thing I will remember about my grandfather is how he worked hard to make a good life and home for his family. He started off with nothing and now has a stable home and savings, which is a huge accomplishment. According to Paul, “I am satisfied. I have lived a complete circle.”
Mary and Wayne Piccin posted on 2/13/13
Dear Paul Selvaggio family, We were very sorry to hear of Paul's passing today. Mary remembers him from when she visited Springfield as a child. He was always warm and kind. He provided valuable input when we were forming the Amici Naperville Area Italian American Club. May he rest in peace.