You might not have been related to Enrico DeLuca, but if you ever ate at his italian restaurant he made you feel like family.
The 82-year old owner of Sorrento's Pizza in Norwood died early Sunday morning. DeLuca's family is asking for donations to the University Hospital Burn Unit in DeLuca's name, in lieu of cards, calls, and flowers. His funeral is Thursday at 10:30am at Holy Trinity Church in Norwood. The visitation is at 9:00am.
Enrico DeLuca loved his wife with his whole heart. Being with her and the rest of his family was the most important thing in the world to him. When his daughter, Esa DeLuca-Stewart, watches her mom and dad's 50th wedding anniversary on video tape, she has nothing but wonderful memories.
DeLuca-Stewart says, "Their dreams came true.. their dream to come to America, open a restaurant, and keep the family together became a reality for them. It's what they wanted." Enrico was no stranger to challenges. He survived russian concentration camps for nearly two years and an escape route that had him walking through Siberia, after being shot.
He came to America from Italy with nothing and built a successful family business, a family restaurant named Sorrento's, that has stood for 49-years. But it was his toughest challenge that ultimately claimed his life.
April 29th, he was badly burned in a fire at his restaurant. Doctors said he wouldn't last through the night. But as his son, Willie DeLuca explains, "He survived for 15-days, that just shows you what kind of a person my father was. He was a tough man."
He was also a giving man.. sponsoring kids teams, March of Dimes, all kinds of things. He believed what goes around comes around. "Everybody's reaching out and helping us with prayers, cards, just everything," says Willie DeLuca, "Dad always believed in order to be fruitful and prosperous you have to give back and what I've seen all these years that dad gave, the community has given back."
Willie says, "What happened was a tragedy but we're just, you know, we're gonna pull together and start all over again, and that's what my father would want us to do."