From John Durso


Eulogy for Eddie Durso read by Julie Durso on 5/22/07
Hello, I am Julie Durso, one of the great Edward Durso's nine (9) grandchildren.
How can you begin to speak about 89 years of a man's colorful life?
Eddie Durso was a husband, a father, a musician, an author, a Parole Officer and his most proud role was that of a grandfather.
Let's take a few minutes to go back to his roots.
John Durso (Eddie's father) came to America on September 12th 1903 alone at the age of 16 to start his American dream. By the time he was 21 he had a contracting business and a catering truck business. He did very well in this new land, fell in love with and married Angelina Panarello.
Angelina and John became the proud parents of a 14-pound baby boy Edward on April 1st 1918 in South Philadelphia. That's not an April fool's joke -- he really was 14 pounds at birth!
He had a brother Teddy and two sisters Terry and Frances. In 1921, the family traveled back to Italy to visit John Durso's relatives in his hometown in Messina, Sicily for a 2-year stay.
Upon returning to America, they settled again in South Philadelphia joined by John's two brother's Joe and Nick. But, in 1931 the family was rocked with heartache when Eddie's sister Frances passed away at the age of 11 of meningitis. This was a hurt that Eddie spoke about all of his life.
The family found it hard to cope but they stayed strong and continued on.
Eddie attended the Baldwin Grade School, Vare Junior High School and Graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1938. It was in Vare Junior High School that he found his calling to be a musician, a drummer. He also found love of the sport of boxing and it was at Vare junior high that he met his closest friend throughout his teenage years Freddy Cocozza who later became the RCA recording artist and MGM movie star Mario Lanza. They were inseparable spending most of their time together along with other friends. Creating havoc on the streets of South Philadelphia and Wildwood, New Jersey. Mario loved Eddie's toughness and unwavering ability to keep each other out of trouble. Even Lanza's parents publicly said that they felt at ease when their boy was out with Eddie.
Eddie began to take the drums very seriously when he became a percussionist in the South Philadelphia High School orchestra under the direction of Jay Spect. After his graduation in 1938 his love of boxing continued when he became a semi-professional featherweight fighter. This career was interrupted by his call to serve his country in WWII in the Army Air Corps where his talent was called upon to perform and tour as a bandsman with many orchestras.
Upon coming out of the army he had many careers in addition to music; he was also a draftsman and an insurance salesman. In 1951 Mario Lanza came back to Philadelphia as a major movie star and gave a concert at the Academy of Music. Eddie was proud when Mario announced his friend from the stage. Their friendship continued until Lanza's death at the age 38 in 1959.
Eddie was selected to be his pallbearer, and continued to talk about Lanza at the requests of the many Lanza fan clubs around the world. In 1992, he wrote "My Memories of Mario Lanza" so the world could enjoy Mario according to Eddie's recollection of their teenage years.
His most fortunate moment in life was when he met his soul mate, Irene. They fell in love and as we all know, their union flourished and lasted for almost 50 years. It was a perfect match.
They were married and Eddie also began his position of a Probation and Parole Officer with the Common Pleas Court with the City of Philadelphia and joined his father who was a Court Officer.
He worked as a Probation and Parole Officer for almost 30 years. Now he focused on working two jobs that being a Parole Officer and musician to support his family -- wife Irene, sons Frank, John and Eddie Jr and his daughter Carol Ann. He was the perfect father, there when you needed him, always ready to pick up the pieces and make it better. His phrase "Even if you're wrong, you're right with me" meant a world to his children. This meant no matter what happened or what you did -- never worry because he was behind you 100%. His simplified sayings such as: "You are what you eat", "You're doing a hellava job" or "Aren't we having a grand time" say it all.
He became a successful local bandleader and played society engagements throughout the area and even played for Pope John Paul II. He was a life member of the Philadelphia, Norristown and Atlantic City Musicians Union. For many years he was a drummer with the Verdi Band of Norristown and performed with the Ringling Bros Circus band. He was also a member of the Sons of Italy.
Through all the years, Irene kept a perfectly running home; supporting him and her children in any way she could. She was the perfect mother. Each child was educated and eventually married.
They carried the tradition of what family life should be through Eddie and Irene's shining example. Again, things changed for the better in 1977. Eddie became overjoyed with his newfound role of grandfather. After the birth of Jerry, following in succession were John Jr, Michael, Stephanie, Jude, Anthony, Kathleen, Lisa and Julie.
Spending time with us grandchildren was one of the happiest period of his and Gram's lives.
This was certainly some of the happiest and most memorable times in our lives as well. There were trips, ballgames, dance recitals; babysitting and many other activities and "Poppy and Gram" enjoyed every second of it. He was further blessed recently with great-grandchildren Kayla, Isabella and Ryan.
Poppy retired in 1980 from the Probation Department and kept himself active with volunteer work at Roxborough Memorial Hospital, activities with the grandchildren and trips to Atlantic City.
Often, if the slots were unkind, even in his late 70's Poppy would walk 3 miles from the North end of the Boardwalk to visit his cousin in Ventnor.
On January 12, 1999 the good Lord came for the love of Poppy's life, Gram.
In the following years Poppy was lost without her. He often said "What a life without my wife"
He struggled with Parkinson's disease and much of the happiness of earlier years that included Gram eluded him. He came to all family functions and vacations but he was still unsettled--until now as he is with Gram and his family and friends who have also passed. He is now with them in paradise.
We will miss him greatly and we cherished every minute of his hard work, time and wisdom with us. He was and will always be our hero.
I would like to end with his favorite acceptance speech when he was asked to say a few words at his birthday parties. He would say:
"Thank you on behalf of my own individual self and all those who made me concerned"
Thank you Poppy, we love you!
Eddie Durso - April 1, 1918 ­ May 17, 2007
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