Kansas City native and retired Safety & Health Coordinator for the Teamsters Union, George A. Chiavola, died suddenly after an extremely short illness last Thursday, April 17th, when he was overcome by an infection. All four of his daughters, as well as several grandchildren were there by his side, expressing their love and saying their final goodbyes when he passed. George was 85.
George joins his father and mother, Joseph Chiavola and Esther Civella Passafume of Kansas City, MO; his baby boy, Nicholas Thaddeus Jude Chiavola of Chicago, Il; brothers, Louis S. Chiavola, Anthony Chiavola, Sr., & sister, Lucille Zeller, of Chicago, IL.
George is survived by his 4 daughters: Kathy Chiavola of Nashville, TN; Sue Engelhardt (Irl) of St. Louis, MO; Nan Yates of Westwood, KS; & Carla Ingraham (Robert) of Prairie Village, KS; 8 grandchildren: Audrey Yates, Nicholas Yates, Elisabeth Ingraham, Jay Ingraham (Katie Wyatt), Emily Ingraham, Joel Engelhardt (Laetitia Guerinni), Erin Engelhardt & Evan Engelhardt; 5 great-grandchildren: Elisabeth, James & Victoria Ingraham, and Carl & Olivia Engelhardt.
Growing up in Chicago during the Great Depression was especially difficult and gave George a unique perspective on life, making him resilient to things that would challenge the strongest of men today. Over the years, he fascinated family and friends with stories of his childhood; times when there was little money for necessities and no money for anything extra. Shoveling coal in dark basements and sneaking under circus tents was a way of life for George during those years. Still, he beamed when talking about the good times, like winning the city-wide marble-shooting championship and being sent a special, personal letter from then-Chicago mayor, Edward J. Kelly.
His tremendous gift for singing was discovered early, when he was a young man in his teens. At the insistence of one of the most prestigious voice instructors in Chicago at that time, noted Baritone, Eusebio Concialdi, George began studying Italian opera and Classical voice, free of charge. He took his other studies seriously too, and after high school was awarded a scholarship from the University of Illinois-Urbana. But it was his rich, beautiful baritone voice that eventually brought him to the attention of an aspiring violist and fellow Classical music-lover, Margaret Holden. It was destined she would become his beloved wife and mother to his five children. As life would have it, though, over the years George and Margaret separated. It wasn’t until just a few years ago, as love would have it, they would once again hold hands. There is little doubt that the most beautiful and poignant vocal performance of his career was when he sang Schubert’s Ave Maria to her at her funeral in November of 2011.
A member of the United States Armed Forces, George worked in the Signal Corps in the early 1950’s as a Radioteletype (RTTY) operator and he eventually became a Sergeant in the Army. He was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and honorably discharged. He will be honored for his service to our country during his funeral.
George loved being outside in nature, whether it was championing on the golf course (he was no stranger to hole-in-one’s), planting grape vines and tomatoes in his yard or running with the family dog, Bob. “Happy-go-Lucky” describes him best. He was a wonderful father, making sure his children had the things they needed and wanted. He took them to all the places he missed growing up: horse-back riding, the circus, movies, concerts and the zoo. The most important thing in the world to George was his family. His family wants him to know that the feeling was mutual.
The visitation will be held Friday, April 25, 2014, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Passantino Bros. Funeral Home, 2117 Independence Boulevard, Kansas City, MO 64124. (Rosary at 4:00 p.m.) The Mass of the Christian Burial will be Saturday, April 26, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1357 NE 42nd Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64116. Burial to follow at Mount St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Pallbearers: Irl F. Engelhardt, Anthony Chiavola, Jr., Jack Wagner, Vincent F. Civella, Nicholas C. Yates, Robert J. Ingraham III, R. Jay Ingraham IV, Evan E Engelhardt.
Honorary Pallbearers: Carmen “Butch” Civella, Pete Tamburello, Joseph Mucka, Sam Mirabile, Anthony Palmentere, John Sciortino, Pete Simone, Joseph Shockey.
To celebrate George’s love of animals, donations can be made in his name to Wayside Waifs at www.waysidewaifs.org, the no-kill shelter where he adopted our family dog, Bob.
Condolences may be offered at www.passantinobros.com.