Umberto passed away peacefully with his family by his side on Sunday, July 26th at 4:06PM in Palliative Care at Nanaimo Regional Hospital.
He was predeceased by his parents Franz and Vinka Perzina, his brothers, Francesco and Luciano Perzina and sisters Anna Ivanov and Dominica (Dine) Radovanovich.
He is survived by his loving family; His wife of 60 years, Carmela Perzina, daughter Vinka Perzina (56) and three grandchildren, Daniel MacQueen (30), Gabrielle MacQueen (27) and Nicky MacQueen (24).
His son in law, Brad Morgan (58), and his step grandchildren Taylor Morgan (31), Connor Morgan (28) and step great granddaughter Spencer (3).
Umberto was still living in the ocean view home he built in 1994 for his wife and his family in Parksville, British Columbia.
Umberto was born on August 24, 1932 in Croatia on a small island in the Adriatic Sea, called Logosta (Lastovo). He was there until the young age of 14 during World War 2. His parents and siblings escaped execution from the “Fascists” who thought his father was a trader for working for the Italian government as a lighthouse attendant on the small island. The family of seven were placed by a cousin on a small boat with nothing, and only hoped to arrive safely in Italy. Once they reached safety, his family then was taken to a refugee camp until the end of the WW2.
Umberto was a story teller. He often told stories, especially of his early years in Italy, of his escape and how the Americans treated his family so good at the refugee camp. There was more food there than he ever imagined.
Once the family was released, his father was again employed by the Italian government and the family went to in Crotne, Italy. This is where he dreamed of becoming a boxer; until he found out they had to break his nose. He was very proud of his facial features and did not want to ruin his looks. He then proceeded with his passion for music, and learned how to play the accordion. He learned it very well. He played at weddings and parties, while also working in a big grocery store. Then at the age of 18 he was summoned to serve the army. Fortunately, he was exempted because he had two brothers who had already served.
His dad was transferred to Bari 1955, and Umberto went to Milano to study to become a heavy duty mechanic. He then went back to Bari and to work at the Grand Hotel. He was the lead service man. He met many famous people with very fancy vehicles. He would be specifically requested to service all the high end cars (Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes) and was given the keys to take the cars for a spin.
At the age of 27 in June 1959, he followed his sister Dine to Canada, “The land of riches”. He came to Canada on a ship called “The Vulcania”. Unfortunately, Canada was not so good to him at first. His sister was on a tomato farm in Chatham, Ontario where he helped picked tomatoes. His heart was not in it, and being born on an island, this was too far from the ocean and not what he studied to do. He decided he wanted to go to Montreal to meet up with a friend from the boat he travelled to Canada with to find a job, a wife, and start a family. His friend in Montreal also played the accordion. They filled the Italian neighbourhood with music and dance.
Umberto then also remembered he had an old friend in Montreal, he called and met up for lunch. During this lunch his friend showed him a picture of this beautiful young lady, who later became his wife, Carmel, and his friend became his father in law. Carmela was not interested in meeting him at first, Umberto tried three times on separate occasions, and he finally got her with his sparkling hazel eyes and charming ways. They then got married January 21st, 1960; they had one daughter in March of 1964. They named her Vinka, after his mother.
In 1967 Umberto became a Canadian Citizen, the same year he suffered from back pain and had a spine fusion. He was laid up for a year. For the first six months he was in half a body cast, but that didn’t stop him. He went back to work as soon as he could to provide for his family.
In 1970, Umberto was fed up with the snow and cold weather in Montreal. He packed up his family and his in laws. He drove across Canada to this beautiful place called British Columbia, where it “never snowed”. Wouldn’t you know, it first year in BC that it snowed.
He worked for various cement and paving companies. BA Blacktop was where he prospered and worked for, for 30 years. He started as a paving operator, grader and worked hard to prove to the company he was an asset. He was a heavy duty mechanic, and his last 10 years with the company he ran the shop as the heavy duty mechanic. So when travelling through Vancouver, Whistler, up island, and the Number 1 highway, remember that Umberto was part of that. He paved many roads in those areas. He’d come home and say, “I went to Whistler where they started to build roads. Way far away, up in the mountains! Mosquitos are as big as my hands! Who would ever live there?”
He had many hobbies; gardening, making wine, hunting and fishing. But the ocean was where his heart was and he wanted to retire near the ocean. He fell in love with Vancouver Island and chose to move there. He built his ocean view, dream home, in Parksville in 1994 and lived there until his dying days.
He saw his family almost daily and lived a full happy loving life. He raised his grandchildren while Vinka worked.
Umberto will always be remembered as a passionate, religious, loving and hard working. He will mostly be remembered for his dedication to his family. The sun rose and set for family, he created so much love for us all. He would often say to his grandchildren that they were his heart.
He was committed to keep in touch with all his friends, often you would find him on the phone with friends and family from all over the world. If you spoke to Umberto, he made sure you knew he was your friend for life, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for his people.
Umberto will be missed by many.
A Private Catholic Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday August 1, 2020 at 11:00 am at Yates Memorial Services.
In Lieu of flowers please consider a donation to a Cancer Society of your choice in Umberto's name.
To send flowers to Umberto's family, please visit our floral store.