Honorees Continued - The Italian Tribune
The Italian Tribune - La Tribuna del Popolo
Friday, Sept. 5 - Sept 18, 2008
Larry Garrisi: Man of the Year
(Continued from Front Page)
residential homes. As the company grew, it averaged 40 to 50 homes a year in several
communities throughout Macomb County at its peak. It then expanded into condominium,
residential subdivision, commercial and industrial developments. Lorenzo also owns and
manages several commercial, office and residential properties throughout Macomb County.
Due to his hard work and professionalism, the Clinton Township Economic Development
Committee awarded him with the Development Award in 2002. He was also recognized in
Crain’s Magazine in 2003 as one of the top builders and developers of Macomb County.
Garrisi, president of AIO, is well known for serving as the chairman for the popular AIO
Annual Seafood Dinner, which under his direction has successfully raised thousands of
dollars in college scholarships for children and grandchildren of local Italian-Americans for
many years. “We’re giving out eight $1,000 scholarships on Sept. 17,” he said. “They used
to give out one or two, but this year we’re giving out eight.”
He is also a former member of the Italian American Chamber of Commerce and volunteered
in the Quality of Life Committee of the “Focus Macomb.”
Proud of his Italian heritage, he also comes from a family of exceptional chefs. “My
father was a chef for Larco’s Restaurant. He taught me how to cook,” he said. His cousin Joe
Perino is a chef at Andiamo West and another cousin is a chef at the Luxor, in Las Vegas.
Garrisi was using sun-dried tomatoes before they became trendy. “It was an old Sicilian
poor man’s food. Now sun-dried tomatoes are expensive, but we used to sun dry them and
keep them for the winter,” he recalls. “We’d put them in the water and kind of bring them back
alive. Then we would make a breading filler with breadcrumbs, olive oil, salt and pepper and
fry it. And that would be a staple for a sandwich for the winter.”
He also likes to cook pasta arrabiata, penne arrabiata and spaghetti aglio olio among
other Sicilian favorites. “There’s a dish we make with bacon and cauliflower and little tomato,
onions; we cook the pasta and add a little parmiggiano on top.”
While he has excelled in many areas, he says his greatest accomplishment is his marriage
to his wife, Antoinette. They have been married for 37 years. Together they raised three
children, Michele (Ben), Stefano (Kim) and Salvatore (Amy), and have four grandchildren.
Maria Stante: Woman of the Year
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Her brother Tony Naurato was a contractor in Detroit. So her father settled in Detroit to
work with her brother in the contracting business. Eventually, she entered the business at
1973. “At that time, no woman was supposed to be in a man’s world,” she says.
Her husband was an operator. Eventually, they started Stante Excavating with one
bulldozer. “As the years went by, my children grew up in the business,” she said. She continues
to work in the financial end of the business. The company is still thriving today but now with
Aside from being a successful business owner, Stante also finds time to serve in the
Italian American Club of Livonia. She served as vice president for two years, treasurer for over
15 years and also was involved in several committees. In addition, she has been active with the
Italian American Cultural Society in Clinton Township since 1976, and also served on the
Columbus Day Committee.
A proud grandmother of eight grandchildren ranging in age from 11 to 18, her face
radiates when one of them comes through the door. She carries on Italian traditions within the
family. She makes her own salami annually. “I don’t actually do it any more, but my sons do it.”
While raising her family, she always made sure to bring the family together for dinner.
“On Sunday, I always emphasized that at 1 p.m. we’d have dinner. You could hear them mimic
me, ‘Mom, you and your dinner.’ But now they know—they have their own children, and even
the grandchildren sense how important it is to get together. We’re a very close family.”
An accomplished chef, she says, “I cook just like a painter paints. It’s my enjoyment. To
me, cooking is like creation. I sit on the computer all day long, so it gives me a chance to break
away. I have a full kitchen in my office and many times we invite business people.” She enjoys
preparing eggplant parmigiano, gnocchi and pasta fagioli. But she also prepares less common
dishes such as pheasant and rabbit.
One of the greatest life lessons she’s learned and passed on to her children is to “be
sincere.” She remembers an interview with RAI when they interviewed her son. They asked
what one lesson he’d learned over the years. She proudly says, “And he said, ‘be sincere.’ I
always remember that with great pride.”
Ramo Salerno: Humanitarian
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He is on the Board of Directors of the Italian American Cultural Center, is the Goodwill
Ambassador for the Coro Italiano, and has been actively involved in the Italian American
Chamber of Commerce of Michigan since 1990.
For the past 10 years, Salerno has spearheaded the Columbus Celebration in Lansing at
his own expense. He received proclamations for each year the celebration was held.
In addition, he was the Grand Marshal of the 2001 Columbus Day Parade, and is a past
Grand Marshal and Director of the Warren-Centerline Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Among his many other civic duties, he sits on the executive board of the Warren Symphony
Orchestra and served as Chairman of the Roast Committee for the Symphony. He is also a
member of the St. Mary’s College Senate, a sponsor of the Fitzgerald High School Electric Car
Program, a supporter of the Juneau Family Birth Center of Alaska, a supporter of the Career and
Technical Educators of Macomb County and an ambassador to Orchard Lake Schools.
But his service to the Boys Scouts of America is the nearest and dearest to his heart. He
has served as chairman of the Michigami District of the Detroit Area Council of Boy Scouts of
America and is on the committee to celebrate the 100th anniversary in 2009.
“Growing up, we were very poor,” he says. “We lived in a two-bedroom home with four
children on [Detroit’s] lower east side. Dad only worked a couple of days a week, and it was in
the Depression years. We struggled for many years until I was 12 years old.
“As an Italian, I was not accepted in my neighborhood. Boy Scouts helped me. I earned
the star rank.” Though he didn’t get back into Scouting until he had his son, he then became
a scoutmaster. His son earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Salerno is proud of his son, Ramo
Salerno Jr., a doctor of optometry, who is married to Valerie and his daughter, Rhonda Salerno
Collins, who is married to Gordon, and his granddaughter Marena.