Longtime HerrinFesta Italiana volunteer and one of the early committeemen of the first Festa Bocce games, Joe Marlo and his wife Kay, will be honored as Grand Parade Marshals for Festa 2008.
Marlo was born in Herrin May 26, 1923. His father, Mario V. Marlo, was born in Cuggiono, Italy and came to America in l9l0 when he was l6. His mother, Lena Gualdoni Marlo, was born in St. Louis, MO in l900. His father worked in local coal mines and the couple married in l921. His mother worked for decades as a retail clerk at Zwick’s Ladies Store in Herrin. He has one sister, Evelyn Creek who is deceased. The family lived at 301 North l0th in Herrin.
Marlo attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School in Herrin and still has childhood friends in Herrin, Joe “Fat”Calcaterra, Bill Calcaterra and Bill Tapella who were in his class. He graduated from Herrin High School in 1940.
His mother’s family included his great uncles, Louis, Frank, John and Joe Gualdoni. Each was instrumental in the commercial growth in Herrin. As owners of Southern Illinois Wholesale, his great uncle “Big John” Gualdoni would become his first employer. After high school he worked for Southern Illinois wholesale that sold produce and groceries and then added Stag and Miller beer lines to their company. During World War II in 1943 he was drafted in to the Army. Along with Louis “Beak” Berra they traveled to Gainesville, TX. When he arrived in Texas, L. V. Steckenrider of Herrin, was waiting with a note and pass to send him back to Herrin because his grandfather. Louis Gualdoni, had died.
On his return to the military, he spent two years stateside at bases from Louisiana to California as a radio operator. He was training for the Invasion of Japan, when his orders changed. Within seven days he was on a troopship bound for LeHarve, France, during the European Battle of the Bulge in 1945.
In the European Theater he was the radio operator for an Army Colonel with the Blackhawk 86th Division in France and Germany. On D-Day he was in Moosberg, Austria. Quickly, he was on a troop ship back across the Atlantic and given a 30-day leave for home. His orders sent him back to California and directly to the Pacific Theater and the Philippines. After the atom bomb was dropped on Japan, the war ended and he returned home in 1946. His father, a WWI Veteran who fought in France, was “so happy to see me home,” Joe said. “He worried a lot about me during the war. He gained his own citizenship during WWI after fighting in Europe.”
Joe returned to his job at Southern Illinois Wholesale and would remain there until his retirement in 1987. His travels with the company took him river to river in southern Illinois. He made good friendships throughout the area in his work. He married his first wife, Ann Powenski, in 1948. They had three children, Joe Marlo, who is a retired CPA and lives in Marion with his wife, Jane, a daughter Barbara Waterbury, a secretary at Rend Lake College, who lives North of Valier and Jim Marlo who owns Southern Dental Lab and his wife, Janice, of Marion. His wife, Ann, died in 1976.
Always active at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Herrin, he is also a Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus. He would meet his future wife at OLMC. Kay Mascetti, a young widow, also attended the church. She did not expect to remarry after the death of her husband, Philip Mascetti, in 1974. She has two children, Karen Austin, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. She is an oncologist business manager at Medical University of South Carolina. Her son, Kenny Mascetti and his wife Kathy, live in Pinckneyville, where he works in the Supply Department of Peabody Coal.
Kay was born in Hurst to Claude and Nellie Leach and was raised by her mother and stepfather, John Welch. She attended Blairsville grade school and graduated from Hurst Bush High School. She worked during high school for the National Youth Organization at Collard’s Tin Shop. She remembers with a smile “climbing ladders to survey roofs for repair.” She worked in Chicago for five years after high school before returning to southern Illinois. She then worked at Smoler’s Dress Factory in Herrin.
The couple began to date and dance. Both enjoyed their time on the dance floor and the friends they made together. They continue to play pinochle two times a week with Bruno and Olive Delai at each other’s homes and have for the last 31 years. Delai was the first Festa Grand Parade Marshall in 1991. Joe and Kay dated for a year and a half and married September l0, 1977 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and moved to the family home where they still live near downtown Herrin. The couple renewed their vows at the church on their 25th wedding anniversary with friends and family and hosted a reception at the K. C. Hall in 2002.
Kay is a member of Daughters of Isabella, and a past longtime member of the Daughters of Mary and a member of the Classy Lassie Red Hats of the Herrin area.
The couple share 9 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Their life revolves around their church work and helping others. Joe is first to offer to take friends and church members to doctor appointments, grocery stores and wherever they need to go. He says, “If I can help someone else, then I want to do it,” Kay says of her husband, “Joe is a really good guy and a truly fine cook. He makes the pies for family dinners.”
At the first Festa in 1991, Joe, Gene Moroni and Steve Coriasco worked diligently to prepare the first games on the Herrin High School football fields. Bocce is now one of the premier events of the Festa. Joe works at the Bocce Courts during each Festa as a scorekeeper.
He remembers growing up in Herrin and the friendship of families all over the city. He and former Grand parade Marshall, Frank Calcaterra lived on the same block and both played Bocce on courts where Smoler’s is located in southeast Herrin. “We played together, went to school together and when we started working, we brought our paycheck home to our family.”
Mayor Vic Ritter says of Joe and Kay, “They are all around good folks. He worked hard his entire life and he and Kay are a fine couple and part of the wonderful citizens we have right here in Herrin.”
They will be honored at the Mayor’s Banquet on May 22 and lead the Grand Parade for HerrinFesta Italiana on Saturday through Herrin May 24.