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So long, Charley Vingo

A man I never met but have long appreciated died recently. His name was Charley Vingo and he lived to 104.

According to his obituary, “as a young man he worked hard trying different businesses until he finally found his niche as a district circulation manager at The Spokesman-Review, and for 26 years traveled the inland northwest helping to greatly increase the readership.”

But I knew him through a book I keep at my desk that he published in 2001 titled “Italians of the American Northwest.” He asked dozens of Italian-American families to write their history of coming to the “New Country” from Italy, and the immigrants and their children responded, including my mother.

The Italian-American community I grew up in here is losing its elders and Vingo's book is an invaluable guide to the past.

In a Spokesman-Review article on the book in 1998 (photo above came from that story) the reporter wrote:

“Someday, Vingo hopes to see the book of stories in local libraries. Maybe, he said, it will help younger generations hold onto their Italian roots. “To me, it's memories,” Vingo said. “I believe we should preserve things like this.”

Amen, Charley. And thanks!


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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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