The couple, known for their devotion to community work and their love for the Herrin area and its history, were longtime co-owners of “Items of Interest General Store” in Energy.
Bill is a retired coal miner, and worked at several area mines. He is also a noted metalsmith. Lisa is the power behind the Linda Jennings Banks History Room at Herrin City Library where she is Lead Researcher. Both have assisted in creating historical displays, designing a layout of display cases and shelves that add interest to the library’s local history exhibits. Bill is the second child of Louis C. and Shirlene (Gray) Carnaghi, Jr. His father died in l993. His mother lives in Herrin and is active in the community. His great grandparents lived in Cuggiono in the Piedmont area of northern Italy. His grandparents, Louis A. Carnaghi, a first generation Italian and Rose (Vansaghi) Carnaghi celebrated her first birthday on a boat from Cuggiono, Italy to America, lived in Herrin.
His close-knit family of three boys, Bob, Bill and John Michael Paul and sister Mary Ellen Smith, along with his parents, created an arena of friendship, love and family that he remembers to this day. He was close to his grandparents and great aunt Mary Vansaghi and great uncle, Charles Vansaghi. He says, the sights, scenes, sounds and the entire feel of life in Herrin remain with him. He adds, “I could hear the bells of St. Mary’s ringing, smell the rosin from factories, and the scent of doughnuts and bread from Comerio’s Bakery. It was like surround sound and sight in my neighborhood.”
He is a 1969 graduate of St. Mary’s School, now OLMC, and a l973 graduate of Herrin High School. His talents as a metalsmith and his hands-on skills to repair anything were noted in Machine Shop and Wood Shop at Herrin High School under the direction of Frederick Lloyd. He worked for Coca Cola, spent 19 ½ years at Old Ben Coal in the Central Repair Shop, and moved to other area underground coal mines.
Lisa’s parents, Edward and Wilma (Summers) Haught, raised their family of five, Marilyn, Beverly, Skip, Curtis and Lisa to be self-sufficient, to work hard, and be good citizens, much like her husband’s family. Most weekends were spent fishing and camping with extended family The y were taught early on to always leave an area in better condition that it was found. In addition to her father’s job as a truck driver, her parents owned Herrin’s first Fiberglass boat business.
Lisa graduated from Herrin High School in l977. She worked for Ron and Mary Walker at Walker’s Food Mart on North Park while a high school student. She began full time employment in the offices of Craig and Brandon Law Firm. She worked a stint at Grandpa’s John’s and five years at Herrin Security Bank. She and her sister, Beverly Richardson, worked in tandem and began to collect, create and sell their wares at craft, juried and private shows under the name “Items of Interest.”
The couple who have no children married on Bill’s birthday, Dec. 16, 1977, so he “would never forget their anniversary.” In the l980’s They purchased a home in Energy. It would be the site of their business “Items of Interest” that opened in June, 1993 and would remain until the Derecho May 8, 2009 storm.
Lisa began her career at Herrin City Library as a volunteer in the Linda Jennings Banks History Room in 2010. She continues her work as a valued employee to re-vitalize and organizes the Herrin History Room. She became Lead Researcher in 2018.
Both have no regrets of staying in the Herrin area. They appreciate being close to family and friends. They like the terrain, and the tempo and timbre of southern Illinois. They share their home with a dog, Lady, and three cats, Pirate, Coco and Tom. All were rescue animals. Bill is the chef at their house cooking both American and Italian dishes. He is retired and takes care of the home while Lisa spends time researching and promoting their hometown history. Their concern for others and their work ethic is legendary.
Cris Trapani, Festa President says, “Bill and Lisa Carnaghi represent what is best about our town and the area. They work hard, they are creative, contributing members of society. We are pleased to honor them as Grand Parade Marshals.”
They will be honored at the Mayor’s HerrinFesta Honoree Banquet, May 21 at the Herrin Civic Center and lead the Grand Festa Parade, May 25