Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli

1943 - 2008
“I do not accept the media stereotypes of Italian Americans: the Fonz…the pool hall boys of the Bronx Tale, or even Mamma Teresa’s Tomato sauce…when I consider the core values of Italian American life, the idea of the family is paramount…; (to the honorees at NIAF gatherings), …[these honorees are] drawn from the business sector, education, politics, religion and the world of entertainment—have praised their families, which provided an atmosphere of honor and virtue, where the work ethic was prized, and where a sense of community values was passed on…”
~ Kenneth Ciongoli
“my dad liked people; he had a strong drive to connect to the Italian culture, and reminded us (kids) about it…he saw VICA as an extension of that connection, and did anything he could to share the best of that culture with everyone; this included a VICA children’s performance of La Befana where I got to play that wise lady”
~ Happy Ciongoli (Daughter)
““Ken brought Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia and former New York State Governor Mario Cuomo together for lunch. It is hard to imagine two more polarized politicos sharing a meal…Although both men were wary at first, they were exchanging first names by the time coffee was served. After lunch, Ciongoli recalls, ‘they embraced and walked out together, arm in arm, like two little old Italian guys.”
~ Seven Days - All in the famiglia” by Paula Routley - 9/30/98
“Ken loved putting folks with totally opposite opinions together; he thought it would be fun - and enlightening. He wanted Americans to keep an open mind about all ethnic groups and he wanted Italian-Americans to remember they are descended from Horace, Virgil and Dante.”
~ Jay Parini (Friend and Co-Author)
““…he was a much more fun-loving person than one would potentially imagine…I remember for one of our parties…Al went to South Philly where he grew up, rented a horse, stripped to a loincloth, put war paint on, and rode straight into the women’s dorms to pick up [his future wife] Barbara for a date. He was just a fun person.””
~ John A. Di Pasquale ( College Friend)
“I came to UVM for graduate school, and the Ciongolis welcomed me for supper every Sunday night…[they] jokingly called me ‘the captured liberal’, but our disagreements never diminished the unvarying warmth and cordiality Dr. Ciongoli and his family extended to me. Those meals constituted a weekly gift, and a life lesson.””
~ Nick Rubin ( Former Student)

Bio Data

Place of Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Italian Heritage: Ischia, Campania

Significant Life / Work Experience: Several honors as a prominent Neurologist, Served in many positions at the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF); President, Vice Chairman, and Chairman of the Board

Publications: Beyond the Godfather, Passage to Liberty: The Story of Italian Immigration and the Rebirth of America

History with VICA: Founding Member and Past President

Presentations: The Cemetery in Italian Culture
Romanesque Architecture: The Burlington Examples
The Vindication of Niccolo Macchiavelli
The Role of the National Italian American Federation (NIAF) in America
Christopher Columbus


Interviews

Interviewees: Happy Ciongoli Marino and Jay Parini

Interviewers: Nicole Librandi


Ciongoli pinch hits for Joe DiMaggio on NIAF tour in Italy