By Ron Hayes
OCEAN RIDGE — As a boy in the tiny mountain village of Pietracamela, Italy, 90 miles east of Rome, Orlando Sivitilli learned to love the warmth of a good story well told.
“The snow could be 8 feet high, so people there gathered indoors, kept warm around the fireplace and amused each other with tales of the past,” remembers Liliane Sivitilli, his wife of 53 years.
When he emigrated to Canada, Mr. Sivitilli brought that tradition of storytelling with him. And when he retired to Ocean Ridge in 1994, the stories came, too.
“He loved to take walks along Old A1A, and when he met people along the way, he’d talk their ears off with stories about things from his life,” remembers his son, Rob.
Mr. Sivitilli died Dec. 8 at Bethesda Memorial Hospital with his wife and children at his side. He was 83 and had battled cancer.
Now friends and neighbors are remembering a man who always greeted them with a smile and a yarn.
“He was such a friendly man,” said Amy Estra of Ocean Ridge. “We would run into Orlando and Liliane walking on Old A1A and always enjoyed hearing about Orlando’s adventures in life.”
Mr. Sivitilli was born on Dec. 31, 1931, and came to Canada at 22, a young man seeking his fortune.
He found it in the real estate and construction industries, building a thriving business that made him one of the best known and respected names in Toronto.
“My dad’s company stamp, Sivi, could be found on almost every street,” said his daughter, Lisa Sivitilli, who became the company’s chief administrative officer in the 1980s.
The Sivitillis began vacationing in South Florida in the 1970s and later bought a home in Gulf Stream, where they spent the winters.
At his retirement in 1994, Mr. and Mrs. Sivitilli settled in Ocean Ridge, where the long walks and old tales continued. He also stayed active as an investor, managing the multi-unit property at 5011 N. Ocean Blvd., which he bought in 1982.
“He sure knew how to tell a story,” said his longtime friend and weekly dining partner, Jim Foster. “Those tough mountain winters must have trained him well.”
In addition to his wife and two children, Mr. Sivitilli is survived by his sisters, Giuseppina Filippi and Teresa Gianvito of Toronto. A funeral Mass was celebrated Dec. 13 at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach.
Contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org.