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Street renamed for late Sen. Lanzillotti

Sisters Norma Branco (l.-r.), Martha Lanzillotti and Leonore Lanzillotti join City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley (back) in renaming a Sunnyside street after their father. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers

A crowd of community and family members gathered on the corner of 48th Avenue and 41st Street Saturday to honor Carlo Lanzillotti, the late state senator who represented his neighborhood of Sunnyside in the 1950s.

“We’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that remembers, that appreciates, that says thank you to the people who were here,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who asked to have the block on 48th Avenue renamed Carlo A. Lanzillotti Place.

“For generations people will come up and down this street and look up at this sign and wonder, ‘Who was Carlo? Why was he so important that someone wanted to put up a sign?’” the councilman said.

Lanzillotti was a World War II veteran and a Republican who was elected for one term in 1952 to represent the 7th Senate District. He was born in Harrison, N.Y., in 1911 to Italian immigrants and moved to Sunnyside in 1973. He was 68 when he died in 1979.

The late senator’s daughter, Leonore Lanzillotti, said she grew up in a musical family and can remember her father singing along to Frank Sinatra’s “Impossible Dream” when she was a little girl.

“He was great. He was magnificent,” she said. “I wish he was still here today.”

Lanzillotti rose to the rank of corporal and served as the band leader of the Fighting 69th Regiment’s swing orchestra. He took pride in entertaining the troops, his daughter said, and when he returned home he continued to sing with the Chicago and San Carlo opera companies.

Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley said the board receives a fair number of street renaming requests, and he recognized early that Lanzillotti was deserving of the honor.

“Carlo was very involved in the neighborhood and in politics,” he said. “When we did our research, we found many reasons for celebrating his life.”

Civic commitment is something that seems to run in the family. Another of the senator’s daughters, Vanessa Branco, used to serve as the president of the United 40s Block Association.

The current president, Don McCallian, said he could not believe how accomplished Lanzillotti was in his short time as a legislator. He said the senator’s accomplishments include passing laws providing for better teacher training, requiring fire retardant materials be used in the construction of tenement buildings and increasing veterans’ pay.

“This day really is overdue,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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