He was born on May 30, 1941, in Sicily, Italy, the fifth of seven children born to Vincenzo Passanisi and Serafina Lombardo. United in marriage in 1972 to Santina (Sandy) Passanisi (nee LoCastro). Father of two children; Vince (Sally) and Vito (Carolyn). Loving “Nonno” to his grandchildren Harrison Umberto, Cora Frances, and Umberto George. Sibling to (Late) Giuseppe “Joe” Passanisi (Late Mariella), (Late) Antonino Passanisi (Late Giuseppina), (Late) Emanuele Passanisi (Late Carmela), (Late) Concettina LaScola (Virgil), (Late) Sebastiana “Nella” Russo (Pete), (Late) Lidia Morello (Gino). Dear Brother-in-law to (Late) Nerina D’Angelo (Late Frank). Dear Zio, Uncle, Great-Uncle, Cousin, and dear friend to many.
Umberto first visited America as a young man serving in the Italian Navy and training with the U.S. Navy between 1961-1963. He would later return to America with his 3 sisters, where he joined the rest of his siblings (except for one) and soon met his wife of 50 years, Sandy, who also immigrated here from Sicily. Sandy was his rock, his companion, his caretaker, and mostly dearly “my wife, Santina” to him. After 35 years of working in the Tool and Die Industry, Umberto retired and joined his wife at “Sandy’s Tailoring” where they worked side-by-side for another 22 years until they both retired in November 2021.
He enjoyed doing work and performing every task with care and pride. There was nothing Umberto did without putting his own special touch on it and always taking great pride in his finished project. You would know if Umberto made it!
In 1973 he became a father to his son, Vince “Enzo” and 7 years later, welcomed a second son, Vito. He made a great effort to provide them with great education and opportunity that he didn’t experience coming from Italy and took great pride in the lives they built for themselves. Umberto’s greatest joy in his life was his grandchildren Harrison Umberto, Cora Frances, and Umberto George, who affectionately called him “Nonno.” He always cherished the time together and making memories over family vacations and cheering his grandkids on at their sporting events.
His house and garden are filled with all his special touches. He was meticulous about his garden, which was filled with fruits, vegetables, and flowers. He loved to walk family and friends through his garden and tell them how he grew all his plants. He would get so excited talking about how he brought a seed or a piece of branch from a plant in Italy and grew it successfully in his backyard! His accomplishment would give him the biggest smile on his face and a look of wonder and amazement. He would take such good care ensuring all his plants were given proper attention with arbors, fountains, lights, statues of our Blessed Mother, garden décor, and signs with his “Passanisi” name. Inside he filled his walls with many pictures of family, his beloved Sicily, and mementos from events and places he held dear to him.
Most important to him, he wanted his house filled with all the people he loved! His wife, kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters, nieces, and nephews, and all his gumbadi! He wanted you to come over to play cards, sit outside on the deck, eat pizza and pasta, octopus or bacaladu, and have some coffee and dessert-even just a little bit:) He loved to host his big Christmas Eve gathering which likely ended with games of Left Right Center, and he hosted New Year’s Eve, complete with hats and noisemakers. He was so proud that these happy events took place in his home!
Umberto was so proud to be Italian. He loved Sicily and went on several trips to visit his brother and the families that lived there. He dreamed of returning to Sicily, traveling on cruises and to the beach with his kids and grandkids.
For several years, Umberto hosted an event for the Feast of St. Joseph. His devotion to St. Joseph was one of admiration for him as a father and a carpenter. Umberto would invite friends, work the room, and take a picture with the raffle winner of an edible St. Joseph’s staff. Using an old recipe of Sugar, almonds, and sesame seeds, Umberto would make this special dessert in the shape of a 3’ staff and place it on a handmade board decorated with beads, glitter, ribbons, and icing.
We will miss Umberto terribly, but take comfort knowing that God is good, and he has been reunited with his whole family!
Services: Visitation at St. Ambrose Catholic Church 5130 Wilson Ave, St. Louis MO 63110, Thursday, September 22, 2022, from 8:30 until 10:00 am. Funeral Service immediately following at 10:00 a.m. Interment follows at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, 7030 Gravois Ave, St. Louis, MO 63116