COSTANZO 'GUS' BIANCO
Providence, R.I., USA
1928 - 2006
Young Pannese Social Club - Monday, May 1st, 2006
It is with great sorrow that we report the loss of our brother COSTANZO 'GUS' BIANCO 78 of Cranston. Brother Gus died Saturday, April 29, 2006 at Rhode Island Hospital, Providence. He was the husband of Anna (DeFusco) Bianco.
Besides his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Anne Marie Burgess and Barbara Bianco, both of Cranston and his sister Virginia Sepe of Cranston. He cherished his granddaughter Bianca Anne Burgess and great-grandson Joseph Costanzo Domenico. He was the brother of the late Anthony Bianco.
He was the son of the late Carmello and Maria (De Luca) Bianco. His parents were from Panni (Foggia), Italy, his mother Maria having come to America as an infant with her parents Costanzo and Antonia (Ciarciello) DeLuca in 1901.
Gus and his family have a long history of service and devotion to our club. Like his father Carmello and brother Anthony, Gus was a charter member and had also served as President of our Young Pannese Social Club. He was also a member of the Pannese Society of Providence.
Brother Gus was born in Providence and was a lifelong Cranston resident . He was a veteran of the United States Navy. He worked as a cabinet maker, carpenter and supervisor for Monarch Store Fixtures for many years until his retirement. Gus was also an avid golfer, bowler and hunter.
We will always remember him with many fond memories and a deep appreciation for his many years of devotion and service to our club. We offer our deepest condolences to his wonderful wife Anna and family.
Please Note - The above memorial to Gus was also
published in Italian on the PANNI, ITALY web
Panni e i Pannesi"
courtesy of webmaster and friend
In the months before his passing, Gus seemed to know what was looming ahead for him, but he refused to let it change him, and he sure as hell, wasn't going to let anyone else in on his secret. Not that his illness didn't bother him, but he had so much more life in him, and he was surrounded by some really good friends that he just was not ready to make his grand exit so soon. He felt he had lived a really full and good life, but just wanted perhaps a little more time with his family and friends. He would kid around with his wife Anna and his daughter Barbara if they became overly comforting, and asked him how he felt that day. “Bring out the box” he would roar with a small smile and a twinkle in his eyes as only Gussie could. He wouldn't let anyone know anything was wrong with him. In days when it was obvious to all that he was hurting terribly, he would meet their questions on how he felt with “Bring out the box. Bring out the box.” His eyes were weary those days, but he still got a grin out to you.
His friend of nearly 30 years, Art Johnson said he visited Gus days before he died. After chatting a bit, they shook hands, and Art got up to leave. As Art neared the door, he heard Gus bark out “Hey, come here- One last one.” Art turned and they shook hands again, as vigorously as Gus could. He didn't think of it then, but when he got a call three days later, it dawned on him what Gus meant.
Gus died 04/29/2006. That day, the world lost a really nice guy, a man with many stories. I only talked to a few of his friends, and I've gotten the following stories, and imagine I could have gotten volumes more, had I the time. Everyone I spoke to said the same things though. Anthony Spremulli, one of Gus's close friends for years noted that “there is not a better guy than Gus.” The first things he said when we sat down to talk was that “Gus was a “straight shooter” and he always respected people, even if he had a difference of opinion with them. At the YPSC, he would speak his mind, and no matter what was said, and who said what, after the meeting, all was forgotten, and he would often offer to buy you a drink, in a show that everything was okay.”
Gus was the ultimate in family men. His wife Anna, his two daughters, Anne Marie, and Barbara, and his grandchild Bianca and great grandchild Joey lit up his life. His father Carmello Bianco and his brother Anthony Bianco were both past presidents of the Young Panasee Social Club (YPSC). Gus was a past president of the YPSC also. Thru the club, he was related to Peter Goneconte Sr. and Peter Jr . His friend Peter and he had married sisters. He was also related to Anthony Sepe, his sister having married Tony, and therefore a long line of Sepes. Just between the Bianco's, Goneconte's, and Sepe's, we have multiple past presidents of the club, as well as all other officers of the club. Leave it to say, without this group of men and their families, YPSC might never have existed so long. Paul Campopiano, known as Campo, one of Gus's best friends told us that besides his family, the Club was all he talked about. As a non member, he wanted to tell Gus to stuff his damn club sometimes.
The two of them worked together at Monarch Industries, and remained closest of friends over the years. Though Paul worked indoors and Gus was the lead man sent from city to city to get the Department Stores set up in all places around the USA, they remained close. Gus was at heart and soul, a cabinet maker, a finish work carpenter. Monarch sent him around the country to lead the workers because they knew he was just the man to get the job done. His men also knew Gus wanted only the best work done, and not to perform anything else but the best. They knew also, even though he might bark at them during the day, after work was over, it was all forgotten. Gussie's way was to be loud, get it done right, and as long as his demands were followed, everything was all right. The guys he worked with all loved him. Gus was everyone's friend.
His family tells me that when he worked for Monarch, his work took him away from home for weeks at a time often in the early days, as his girls grew up. He did what every father did-earned the most amount of money he could for his family, regardless of the hours he had to work, with no question as to where he had to go, or how long he had to be away from his family. But when he came home, his family remembers going to the airport to pick him up on a Friday, and they would go out for a family night at places like Hart's Café. Every Friday it seems they picked him up at the airport and went off to Hart's or somewhere else, but always as a family. Campo tells me that while away from his family, not one to just sit in his hotel room and watch TV all night, Gus would sometimes go to a local bar wherever he was and have a little something to wet his whistle, chat with the guys, watch the Yankees play, or watch a football game on the tube.
Anthony Spremulli worked for a plumbing firm that often did work on Monarch's projects, so they ran into each other quite often there too. Having grown up in the same neighborhood, only one years difference in age, and both in YPSC over the years, Gus would often tell Anthony “I love you like a brother” and he would show it in so many ways. . For years, after the death of his own wife, Anthony Spremulli was in and out of hospitals, and had health issues. He says he would get calls from Anna every2-3 days. She would always say “Gus wanted to make sure you were okay.” Four days after Gus's passing, he got a call from Anna to see if he was okay. Anthony was flabbergasted. Her spouse had just died, and she was calling up to see how he felt. She told him Gus had instructed her that if he “wasn't around, always call Tony to see if he is okay.” That was Gus, thinking of others always. That is also how close Anna and Gus were also, and always will be. In her time of greatest grief, she respected Gussie's wishes.
But Gus was closest to his own brother, Tony Bianco. They were inseparable and often worked together at Tony's Formica firm until his brother died 25-30 yrs ago, and his death took a long time for Gus to get over. Anna tells me of the time the two were putting down a driveway in their house, and at times she would see and hear Gus and Tony bellowing at each other on whose method was right. She thought they were going to come to blows with each other but the next day, they were together like two peas in a pod, like nothing had ever happened.
Anna and Barbara say that besides his family, the YPSC and his friends, he loved playing golf, fishing, and playing/watching some other sports. He loved salt water fishing, and often fished at Goat Island, and other places. He hunted with his friends (Tony Conca, Tony Marsella, and Pete Gonceconte Sr.) in places like Marlow NH pulling out rabbits and pheasant, and small game. He often went to Bear Mt. with his friend “Sut”, Peter Gonceconte Sr.'s brother, for a week, annually. It was his tradition. He and Anna played golf together for years, too. They took trips to Florida, and golfed down there too. They always had fun together, and it was obvious. They glowed as a pair.
In later yrs, he stopped doing his road work with Monarch, but continued doing his fine cabinetry work, as can be seen locally since he was the lead worker/supervisor when they restored the Biltmore Hotel, and since he fashioned the mahogany bar at Hemmingway's, among other things, including the Federal Courthouse. Always a craftsman, he was tough to work for, as he was meticulous with his work, and wouldn't leave any work with his name on it, unless it was the best. But they also remember he never held a grudge.
Paul Campo joked “He loved golf-was a lousy player, but he loved to play. He was however, a wonderful craftsman with his work and you can quote me on that.” He remembered even in recent years, after he retired himself, when he found small job, he often would pick up Gus, they'd go to get coffee. Specifically, he remembers Gus taking the call from Paul's' wife on 9/11/2001 asking him if they'd seen the TV. Gussie barked out “We're working here” because he was in the middle of working and liked to continue on without too many breaks. Of course, he didn't know what had happened, but as they later turned on the tube, and saw the 2 nd plane crash, they sat and watched the whole mess together for the rest of the day.
In more recent years though, Gus was brightened by his family. Sadly, he had missed so much in those early years working such long hours so far away from home; he would do anything for Joey, his great grandson, or Bianca, his granddaughter. I am sure Gussie realized the time lost with Barb and Ann Marie could never be made up for, but he made sure he didn't do the same with his grandchildren. But he was always so proud of his girls. Every chance he got, he raved about them. They should NEVER have any doubt on how much he really loved them, and cherished them.
I was told by a longtime club member that Gus and his brother in law Anthony Sepe went everywhere together. They traveled and took their vacations together, Virginia, Tony's wife being Gus's sister. Gus was inseparable in later years with them. Gus and Anna, and Tony and Virginia went everywhere together, whether it was dinner on Friday nights or their vacations, or day trips. Gus loved his sister Virginia and really showed it in the last 15 yrs.
Virginia tells me that he loved their Saturday evening trips to the Hong Kong Buffet, his Won-Ton soup, and they saw Gus's waitress friend after his death. She was upset, because he was always so nice to her, treated her like family, and was always joking with her. On the nights they had Chinese, after dinner, they'd return home to play poker with pennies. Gus had more fun with family or a couple friends playing cards, using pennies to bet. The camaraderie was what did it for him. They would also go monthly to Foxwoods where Gussie would use quarters on slots. It was the fun, not the money which drove him. He, Tony and their wives also went on cruises, or to Bermuda or Puerto Rico just to name a few. Family was most important to Gus, and the YPSC was family.
Amongst the men that Gus went hunting and fishing with was Tony Conca . Once, when Tony and Gus and Pete G Sr. went hunting in Marlow NH, they had “stayed up” a little late, and Tony woke early and went hunting. Not having had actually bountiful morning hunting, he came back towards the trailer where Gussie was sleeping. He spied something close to him and shot at it. The sound awoke Gus and Pete as they came running out, hoping to find a dear, but much to their dismay, and a joke for a long time too, they found a porcupine. Not the type of animal you tie onto the front bumper when coming home, but you can bet Pete and Gus could cook it up into some sort of meal anyway.
Joe Prete, another longtime friend of Gus, (and co worker with him at Monarchs) speaks of the times he used to call Gus up to his property in Foster in the Fall for mushroom picking. Both Anna and Gus use to venture out to the woods there, walking thru the area, filling as many bags of mushrooms as they could. Joe tells that in the recent years, when Gus wasn't moving as well, he would fill up some bags with mushrooms he had picked and just have Gus come up to pick them up. Gus, he recalls, was “his cook”, because he doesn't know how to cook. Sometimes he would have all the game (rabbits, venison, etc.) hunted and just have Gus come out and cook them. Gus would cook it up, and they'd sit down and have a feast. When they all went up North, Pete Goneconte was the cook, but Joe says he always considered Gus his cook…
Joe also recalls the time they went out hunting mushrooms out in Foster when they came upon some wild grape vines. Gus and Anna were going thru the grapes when Gus accidentally backed in a bee hive. Gus got caught in the wild grapes vines, and was trying to get out of the way of some pretty angry bees. While the bees stung him, he was “awkwardly” making his way out of the vines, falling over anything and anyone in his way. He and Gus always laughed about that one too…
One time Gus and Joe (still out on the road for Monarch) went to dinner. For the first time in Joe's memory, Gus wasn't hungry, so he put the most of his prime rib in a plastic bag and saved it back in the room. Joe remembers being very hungry himself and put his own grub down, and early the next morning Joe awoke, still hungry, and he stole the rest of Gussie's prime rib. Needless to say, Gus wasn't overly pleased, because when he woke up, he was very hungry… and had nothing there. On the way to work that morning, Gus had them drop him off at a nearby IHOP while they went to work, and he had himself a nice 8 inch thick pile of pancakes.
Paul Sepe told me most of his stories about “Uncle Gus” were very personal, and wanted to keep them that way but said “I might be able to come up with some for you though.” “Gus was there the day I was born” he said. I could see as his mind thought back on those great memories. I understood his wish to keep some stories personal. Some things are meant to be kept private. Memories with Gus seemed to fill everyone's mind, and only a few are here in this. Gus touched so many for so long, it is still too early for many of us to wish to open up.
Gus' sister, Virginia, told me some stories as she happened in on my visit Anna and Barb one day when I was interviewing them. On the day Paul Sepe was born, it seems Tony and Gus were pacing back and forth in the waiting room at the hospital for 10 hours or so, not hearing how the birthing had gone. Every once in awhile, one of them would go and ask the attendant how Ms Sepe was doing, etc. They were told that there was no information yet. As time passed on, both became very worried about Virginia's health. At one point, Tony told Gus to go home and get something to eat. Shortly thereafter he approached the desk again with questions on his wife. Apparently Virginia had given birth an hour or so earlier, but no one had told the desk, thus the men. Tony called Gus and told him to come to the hospital, but not telling him about the birth. Virginia says she was getting angry with Tony, him not coming up to visit her after hearing about the birth of their son. When Gus rushed in, he was soo very worried about his sister, and Tony told him that he was an uncle. Tony rushed to Virginia and all was well. The miscommunication was explained and the men were not in the doghouse after all.
She also told me about the shot glass tradition they had. The Sepes and Biancos met Christmas Eve and the men always had a toast to the season. When Paul Sepe's son “Paulie” was a little one, Gussie took a shot glass filled with water and gave it to him so he could be in on the toast with them, feel that he was a part of that tradition. I was told that “now Dr. Paul Sepe”, wanted to raise one more toast with Uncle Gus, a toast with a shot glass filled with water, but I am told poor Gus went into code blue, and there wasn't time.
We will all keep our own personal memories of good times with Gus. Everyone had him as a very good friend, and the best man you could work or play with. Gus reminded me of a Big Bear-lot of noise sometimes; all meant for show, and in the end, he was just a big cuddly bear. I will never forget his smile, his laugh, and the twinkle he had in his eyes, as if he had something in his mind that he was thinking about you. When I joined the YPSC ten years ago, every time I was there, Gus made sure to come over and shake my hand, and say hello to me. I was an outsider, and he seemed to always be able to make anyone feel like “family”. I am sorry I never got to know him longer, as many did, but memories will live long of a really sweet man, a father, and a friend to so many.
Gus lived by the code, “I don't care if you have all the money in the world, if you haven't got the love and respect of your friends, you have nothing.” He lived by it til his very last moment, but he has left so many friends; all with such great memories of their time with him, and their greatest respect for him.
Below is my addition, “The Gus”; a really nice sandwich which is good anytime, like Gus.
A couple slices of eggplant
Some Bella mushrooms
A few shitake mushrooms (if you like)
Several slices of onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
A little dried tomato
Pieces of shaved steak
Vermont cheddar cheese
Pecorino Romano cheese
Directions : take the eggplant, make quarters, and then quarter again. Fry in virgin olive oil, and when started to brown, take the onion slices, all cut up in smaller pieces (1-2” long) and throw that in. At that time, take the cilantro, cut it up a bit, and toss that in too. Then take the Bella mushrooms, sliced in pieces, and throw that in too. Same with the shitakes. Add olive oil if needed. Slice up garlic in to very very thin slices and add to the crowd, and add the dried tomato in 1-2” pieces.. When all of this is browning or starting to do so, add the appropriate amount of shaved steak. Flip the goodies and get the meat as much on the bottom as needed, to brown it. When it is nearing needed darkness, add a couple small chunks of Vermont Very sharp cheddar cheese, and as that melts in, and is mixed in the lot, turn down the heat and sprinkle a fair amount of Romano cheese atop it.
On a nice sliced grinder roll, this makes a meal that will give you a smile just like Gus!!!
1. The eggplant is the Italian in Gus, adds the base to the flavor
2. The mushrooms are for his love of picking them.
3. Sliced thin garlic just adds for the Panese and Bianco in us all.
4. The beef is the part they remember, but it's the other stuff in it too.
5. Vermont Sharp cheddar cheese is for the hunter and fisherman in Gus
6. Pecorino Romano cheese adds that special taste that makes the Gus special.
7. Cilantro-a nice herb to add that extra special sweet part that was Gus
Bon Appetit !!!!