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AL (ALBERT) CERILLI
Born: Jan 14, 1931
Date of Passing: Jul 12, 2023Offer Condolences or Memory
AL (ALBERT) CERILLI
After a great day with family, Albert Cerilli left us suddenly, but peacefully in the early morning of July 12, 2023. Together again, with his soulmate and wife of 64 years, Alma (nee Homer), who passed December 31, 2018.
Albert was born January 14, 1931, in Supino, Italy, the third of five children to Rosa and Antonio Cerilli. When eight years old, Al’s mother made the last ship from Italy with her four sons, in 1939 just before the Second World War, to join Antonio who already worked for the Canadian National Railway (CNR), in Hornepayne, Ontario (then Toronto). Albert was predeceased by his parents and brother Angelo (Constance and Rose) and survived by brothers, Alfred (Elvira), Romeo (Lenore, deceased) and sister Mary (Vince Facchini) and their families.
Al was a good looking, hardworking (CNR), charming young man of 18, when life took on a new positive meaning (and the entire Cerilli family). It was 1954, Al met and married the tall, beautiful, and fun-loving, Newfoundlander Alma Homer. It was love at first sight and a match made in heaven. When you add Alma’s friendly nature, sense of humour and generosity to an Italian’s determination, work ethic and voice volume, you have exactly the right combination to really make new, good things happen.
Early in his career with CNR, he joined the fight for worker’s rights and better working conditions, including organizing an end to racist labour practices in the transportation industry. In 1968, Al became a full-time union representative with the CBRT&GW (later the Regional Vice-President) and moved with Alma to Winnipeg. Shortly after, Al’s older brother Angelo, passed away suddenly. Without hesitation, Al and Alma, with no children of their own, moved the six children to Winnipeg from Toronto and raised them as their own. In 1983, Donna, Alma’s niece, relocated to Winnipeg with her partner Lorne and they have been important members of our Cerilli family ever since.
Al is survived and lovingly remembered by his kids: Paul (Linda), Rosie (Don), Barb (Roly), Rick (Brenda), Marianne (Andreas), Joanne (Daniel), Donna (Lorne); his precious grandchildren: David (Elise), Avery (Keith), Christine (Cam), Kyle (deceased), Calvin (Marnie), Christopher, Scott (Kristen), Michael (Danielle), Clair (Christian), Matthew (Ava), Angela (Braedan), Max, Sam, Mira, and his precious great-grandchildren: Logan and Jesse; Leo, Gia and, Abe; Zander and Luke; Tyson, Chase, Gavin and Griffin; Juliette and Freyja.
Al and Alma continued their family tradition of Sunday dinner for all. Those weekly meals are legendary to many and allowed us all to remain close and part of each other’s lives. No need to cook, or bring wine or dessert, just come…and bring the grandkids! The grandkids were Al and Alma’s pride and joy. From the first grandchild on, every week, at least one roll of film was turned to photos, and promptly added in dated order to an album. When digital cameras made film hard to develop, they did make the camera change but still printed and filed the pictures in the same way. It didn’t matter how we actually looked in the pictures…many captured us eating…but we were always beautiful in their eyes. What a treasure these pictures are now as we can look back to EVERY family gathering and reminisce about the happy times we had together.
The Woodsworth Grace was a staple at family dinners - “What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. We take our share of the world’s work and the world’s struggles.” Al did more than his share of the world’s work. Al dedicated his life to improving the lives of working people through his interest in and efforts to preserve and improve universal social programs like medicare, pensions, through living wages, workplace safety, paid holidays and work leaves. He is fondly remembered in Winnipeg and beyond for his work as an activist, volunteer, union and labour leader, educator and lifelong supporter of the NDP. In recognition of his contributions, he was awarded the Order of Manitoba as well as the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and many other awards. However, none of his many life accomplishments ever took away from the attention Al paid to his family.
Alma’s death was life changing for Al, but he continued to enjoy his family, survived the isolation and restrictions of the COVID pandemic, and in spite of it all, right to the end, he continued to love life and all those he was sharing it with. He showed us how to gracefully adapt to difficult life changes and health challenges, to remain patient and kind with those in your life, to stay involved and interested in the world, and be grateful for everything and every day you are given.
The family would like to especially thank home care staff Leni, Carol, Cleo, Minerva and Elizabeth; caregivers Elizabeth and more recently Shirly and Tammy; physiotherapist Jim; wheelchair transport driver Sukhwinder; nurse practitioner Shahid Shams for the excellent care and attention they have provided to Al. Sincere thanks to the staff at Kildonan House who were so helpful and friendly to Al, especially Gemma, Maria, Samantha, Courtney.
The family gratefully acknowledges daughter Joanne, for all her time and love in coordinating Al’s care; especially during the pandemic and the last year when more support and attention was needed. Jo attended every day faithfully, without complaint, and showed us how important a capable advocate is for an elderly person, navigating home and health care. We really do need people to stand up to demand improvements for both workers and recipients of care. Thank you. We love you.
Cremation has already taken place; no funeral service is planned at this time. A celebration of Al’s life will be held later this year when out of town relatives will be able to attend.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Al’s memory to the Albert and Alma Cerilli Education Scholarship at the Manitoba Federation of Labour.
E-transfer to: Ldeluz@mfl.mb.ca
Cheques payable to: MFL Scholarship Fund, Manitoba Federation of Labour, 303-275 Broadway Street, Winnipeg. MB R3C 4M6.
To leave condolences, and share memories, please visit Al’s page at: www.voyagefuneralhomes.com
As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jul 22, 2023
Condolences & Memories (9 entries)
My dad and Al were both labour leaders. I could find the both of them at the old Union Center lounge in the basement. Al gave me guidance when I ran for political office. He and his wife will both be missed. Grant Wichenko - Posted by: Grant Wichenko (family friend) on: Aug 10, 2023
I am so sorry to hear of Al’s passing. The last time I saw him was professionally. We had such a lovely conversation. He was delighted to share news of his children and grandchildren. He was so proud of all of you. Our parents are irreplaceable and their presence will always be missed. But, time is healing, and soon their memories bring smiles, laughter, and comfort. My sincere condolences for your loss. - Posted by: Cindy Naherny (Friend) on: Jul 27, 2023
I am sorry to hear of Al’s passing. I recognized his name right away. Al used to bring those many rolls of film into the photo lab at Zellers and I had the honour of developing them for him. He was always excited to get those photos back and I was lucky enough to hear stories about all his children and grand children. Please accept my deepest condolences. - Posted by: Michele (Photo lab tech (Zellers)) on: Jul 24, 2023
Al and Alma were wonderful neighbors. I met them both during one of my neighborhood walks with my dogs. They looked forward to seeing us daily and would wave to us all. They were always happy and always so very kind. Al and Alma were absolute treasures. I think of them fondly every time I walk by their old house and smile. It's nice to see whomever is living there still puts out their Christmas decorations! - Posted by: Jacqueline (Neighbor) on: Jul 22, 2023
I was always amazed at the story that Al and Alma took in all those children to raise when they had none. Not many would have taken them all. When I met Al and Alma it was easy to see the kindness and love they had for each other and their family. Al had a rich life and was loved by many. My sincere condolences to the family. - Posted by: Michelle Fischer (Friend of Al & Alma's children. ) on: Jul 22, 2023
Leona, Andrea, Ainslie and I were fortunate to find ourselves as neighbours of Al and Alma shortly after their kids arrived, and to have maintained and grown friendships with them all through the years. We were even honoured to attend a few of those Sunday dinners, where Al was a blur, making sure everyone was looked after. I cherish a lengthy phone conversation with Al on his 90th birthday, reminiscing about his struggling immigrant childhood, work life and past political fights. I'm grateful for the hug we shared at this summer's NDP dinner, where he shared once more how much he was missing Alma. And I will remember them both for their kindness, decency and leadership in making our entire community a better place. Lives well lived. - Posted by: Vic Schroeder (friend and former neighbour) on: Jul 22, 2023
I was very sorry to learn the sad news of Al's death. As a former owner of The Fort Garry Hotel, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Al in the 1980's. He was a very effective union leader, always strongly supportive of his members and always thoughtful and fair in our discussions and deliberations. I came to like and respect him very much and appreciated his efforts in the community to improve social benefits for all. He was an outstanding Manitoban and Canadian. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends in your bereavement. - Posted by: John D. Perrin (Business ) on: Jul 22, 2023
Al was a giant of the labour movement. Myself and many other trade unionists benefitted from his leadership and mentorship. As Chair of the MFL political action committee, Al helped develop support for the NDP, the Party labour helped found in 1961. My sincerest condolences to the entire family. Rest in peace Al, and thank you for your tireless efforts towards building a better world. Paul Moist CUPE - Posted by: Paul Moist (Friend) on: Jul 22, 2023
Sometimes in life you meet the most wonderful people when you least expect to. That was how I had the pleasure of both meeting and helping to take care of Al. Al was a strong man in that he spoke with passion about his work with the union and how he wanted to ensure not only workers rights but the rights of the everyday people. He spoke almost daily to me of his great love for his beloved wife and his children. Al was a kind, decent man and all of the above qualities endeared him to me. I’d like to say ‘Rest in Peace’ Al but I’m certain that he’s dancing up a storm with Alma. - Posted by: Kim (Former HCA ) on: Jul 22, 2023
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