Visit a local Bocce Ball court and chances are good that you’ll see a crowd gathered around one of the star players named Geno – the subject of today’s resident spotlight. That’s because, along with being a resident at Oakmont Parkway, Geno is one of the best Bocce Ball players in Michigan – fronting his own team and taking home the gold in the Michigan Senior Olympics. But more than just Bocce Ball, Geno is a man of many stories, many laughs, and an all-around great neighbor for the residents and staff of Oakmont Parkway. In today’s Resident Spotlight, we learn more about what makes Geno such a popular fixture and friend.
A Wife from a Rival School
Eugene, or as he’s known to all of his friends, Geno, grew up on Detroit’s East Side. His father worked for Chrysler while his mom stayed home and helped raise her son (Geno) and his two sisters. Life was good for the young family, and the children quickly grew, with Geno enrolling in and graduating from St. Rita’s High School near Eight Mile and Woodward. It was during these formative years that Geno would meet the woman who would go on to be his best friend and life partner.
“I met my wife in High School; she went to our rival school, St. Benedict’s, in Highland Park,” he said, laughing. “Mother Superior said, ‘you can’t take her to our prom, you need to take a girl from our school.’ And I said, ‘Oh no,’ and took her to our prom anyway.”
His instincts turned out to be right on with this girl from the rival school, as she would go on to become his wife and the mother of his children. Truly high school sweethearts.
From School to Service
After graduating from High School, Geno went into the service, joining the United States Navy as a Radio Man in the early 50s. “The Navy showed me the world,” he said laughing – but it also showed him conflict. He served with eight different ships during the Korean War, helping to send and transcribe important messages and support his squad. However, the war wasn’t all bleak. Two years into his service, Geno and his long-time girlfriend officially became husband and wife, and his first son was born on Selfridge Military Base. “He was a freedom baby,” Geno said.
When his service came to an end after four years, Geno came home and got a job delivering milk for Twin Pines Farm Dairy, a former Detroit institution, before finally settling into a job with the City of St. Clair Shores where he stayed for the next 22 years. When asked what he did for the City, Geno didn’t mince words. “[I did] everything,” he said, joking. “Water department, sewer department, tree trimmer, DPW – you know, just everything you could do, I did!”
East Siders for Life
The young family of seven, now with four daughters added to the mix, thrived, and they enjoyed family trips together to visit grandparents in Northern Michigan as well as the Sunshine State of Florida. The kids grew up and though some moved away to places like Texas and Florida, Geno and the gang always considered the East Side their home – where he remains to this day.
Happily settled into his life at Oakmont Parkway, Geno doesn’t waste a minute. He’s a board member of the St. Clair Shores Senior Center, an ambassador for the Macomb County Senior Olympics, and an avid Bocce Ball player – currently playing on an Oakmont-sponsored team in St. Clair Shores – vying again for yet another gold medal next year to add to his vast collection of accomplishments.
When asked about how he likes living at Oakmont Parkway, Geno’s answer was short and sweet. “I like it good,” he said. “There’s a lot of other places out there, and we looked at them, but here, you get a little extra.”