Each year the Ulster County Italian American Foundation, Inc. will name a Signore and Signora of the Year at our annual Italian Festival. This year’s festival is October 9th, 2016 on the Historic Kingston Rondout’s Waterfront at the beginning of Broadway in Kingston, N. Y. The festival runs from 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM and is a free event. There will be a large variety of Italian foods, beverages, products, music and family fun!
The honorees are Italian Americans chosen by our Executive Board for their contributions to their community and accomplishments in their lifetimes. This year’s honorees are:
2016 Signore of the Year - Emanuele Savona
Emanuele Savona was born in the town of Villabate, Sicily on February 20, 1940 to Stefano and Paolina Francesca Savona. He was the youngest of six children. Emanuele’s father was the proprietor of an ornamental iron workshop where a youthful Emanuele learned the craft, along with that of a tailor. Emanuele’s parents advised him to learn as many trades as he could and to put them away as you never knew where in life it would help you. Emanuele also ran a bicycle shop for a neighbor at the age of 13. This was his first experience at the business world and he enjoyed his momentary independence.
In April of 1958, traveling alone, Emanuele left home in Sicily on the Julius Caesar. Ten days later in May of 1958, his ship docked in New York City. Both his mother and brother Salvatore, were there to welcome him to his new home in the United States.
He worked in the garment district and as a baker in Brooklyn. A business he truly flourished in as his grandfather had owned a bakery in Sicily during his youth and baking seemed to come naturally to him.
In 1962, while with friends on Mott Street in Little Italy, he met his Irish, wife-to-be, Cecilia Ann McSweeney. They were married in 1964 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Bensonhurst. They had 4 children 2 sons and 2 daughters.
During a car ride upstate in 1971, Manny (as he was now nicknamed after arriving in the United States) and Ceil discovered Kingston and a building “For Rent” on Albany Avenue and decided to relocate their family to Ulster County. Within months of moving, Manny opened his first pizzeria in 1972 on Albany Avenue called Jimbo’s.
A year later he renovated the old Hamburger Hut in Lake Katrine and called it Jimbo’s II, known today as Angela’s. In 1974, he opened the old “Lew’s Deli in Port Ewen as Jimbo’s III, now known as Mario’s. He bought the old JudyAnn’s on Plaza Road in 1977, later called Savona’s. In 1982, Plaza Pizza was established and remains open today after 34 years in the Kingston Plaza. Manny continued opening other pizzerias in Wappingers Falls and New Paltz.
Manny’s proudest moment came in 1984 when he took the Oath of Allegiance from his friend, the late Honorable Vincent G. Bradley, and became a citizen of the United States. Today, Manny continues to work in the Kingston Plaza location, or helping his sons between their restaurants (having followed in their father’s footsteps). Manny also enjoys time in his garden tending to his fig trees, but nothing is more important to him then spending time with his children and 13 grandchildren. Whether it be babysitting, teaching them to swim or ride a bike, watering Nonno’s tomato plants or picking a fresh peach or ripe apple from one of his trees; these are his greatest accomplishments of all!
2016 Signora of the Year – Jeanette Provenzano
Jeanette Provenzano, was born and raised in Kingston, New York to Dominick and Rose Yonta (Ionta) who immigrated from Italy as teenagers. Rose from Calabria, Dominick from Naples.
Jeanette is the youngest girl of 9 children. Her parents met and then married after meeting at their place of work, the cigar factory on Wilber Ave. in Kingston. Her parents chose Kingston Point as their home, proudly known as the Little Italy of Kingston. Jeanette attended Kingston High School and graduated in 1953.
Her parents instilled her strong work ethic. While working she went to SUNY-Empire and got an associate’s degree in science.
Jeanette inherited her fathers love for politics. Back in the day Dominick Provenzano was the Ward Chair for the Democratic party, no need for politicians to knock on doors, in those days the Ward chair and others campaigned for them. The polls was always at the Cordts firehouse up the street and if Democrats were successful the children would march on North street banging on old wash tubs to celebrate.
She is lifetime Democrat and has represented her constituents since 1986 as one of the city’s representatives on the county legislature and also a one-time mayoral candidate. Jeanette always found for equality for women and minorities.
Jeanette served 26 years as an Ulster County Legislator, retiring in 2015.
2014-2015, Deputy Chairman, Public Health and Social Services Committee
2012 - 2013, Deputy Chairman, Health and Personnel Committee
2010 - 2011, 2001, 1994 - 1997, Minority Leader, Ulster County Legislature
2008 - 2009, Chairman, Administrative Services Committee
2006 - 2007, Majority Leader, Ulster County Legislature
2000 - 2003, Deputy Chairman, Human Services Committee
Jeanette raised seven kids (Michael, Sally, Dino, Rose, Linda, Michelle, Laurie) as a single mom while working full-time. She also now has 14 grandkids ranging from ages 33 to 2 and five great-grandchildren.
She can be found now golfing, watching Fit TV network, and doing exercise tapes at home or at Planet Fitness sometimes as well.