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Anthony B. DiRenzo DDS

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Anthony B. DiRenzo DDS Obituary
Dr. Anthony B. DiRenzo, DDS, 86, a World War II veteran known as the unofficial Italian historian of Norristown, Pa., where he lived all his life, died on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, at his residence in Brightview, East Norriton. He combined his deep pride for his Italian-American roots, his quest for knowledge, his indelible memory, his generations of friendships, and his love for Norristown, into a well-regarded reputation as the authority on the Norristown Italian experience. "Everybody knew him for that," recalled his daughter, Lucille Canavan. "You could ask him anything about almost any Italian in Norristown, and he would give you their whole family history, what part of Italy they came from, their professions, everything. He was so proud of his Italian culture." With the help of collaborator Larry Molinaro, DiRenzo published an essay detailing the Norristown Italian experience, "What Was the Catalyst?," in Quarterly Magazine of the Montgomery County Historical Society. That passion extended to his charitable efforts as a well-respected dentist in Norristown. Because he was fluent in Italian (as well as three other languages), he often provided free dentistry throughout his 43 years of practice for people in need, including Italian immigrants who had difficulty speaking English. He retired in 1996. While pursuing his bachelor of arts degree at Temple University in romance languages, he completed the Pennsylvania state required education courses, including student teaching, for which he received a state certificate to teach Spanish and French. Instead of teaching, however, he was enrolled at the Temple University School for Dentistry, graduating in 1954 with a D.D.S. degree. From 1958 through 1981, DiRenzo served as Dental Director for the Norristown Area School District, administering dental exams to 1st year, 3rd grade and 7th grade students, as required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A 2010 nominee for the Norristown High School Hall of Fame, DiRenzo also was active in the community as a World War II Navy veteran. He often volunteered to speak on wartime activities at local school, and was awarded the Catholic War Veterans Man of the Year in 2008 from post #1182, of which he was a charter member since 1944, as well as an adjutant since 1990. DiRenzo served in World War II, from Nov. 26, 1943 to April 28, 1946, rising to 1st class petty officer and radio man 1st class. He served during the war and afterward aboard the USS French E.E.-367, from October 1944-April 1946, including four months in Japan as post-war occupation force. He had graduated first in his class in Navy radio school with a 98.6 GPA, and eventually was honored by the military with the Pacific Theater Ribbon and the Victory Medal. Bowling was another lifelong passion, starting when he was 8 years old, when he began as a pinsetter at the L.A.M. Lodge. He competed in bowling leagues for 60 years, and bowled four perfect games during his 70s, holding the unofficial title as the oldest person to bowl a perfect game at Facenda-Whitaker Lanes in Norristown until earlier this year. He loved to travel all over the world, and also was a major sports follower, baseball in particular, known for freely quoting baseball statistics. He was a lifelong member of Holy Saviour Parish, and a member of Holy Savior Senior Citizens Organization, on whose Board of Directors he served since 1995. He was a member of the American Dental Association, the Pennsylvania Dental Association, Temple Dental Alumni, and Montgomery Bucks Dental Society. He also was a Lodge Order Sons of Italy in America since 1940, and a past member of the American Businessmen's Club But most of all, he was "an amazing father and husband," said Lucille, whose life revolved around his family. Born September 8, 1925 in Norristown, PA, he was the son of the late Giovina (D'Adamia) and Domenico DiRenzo, and husband for 64 years of Rose (Mandracchia) DiRenzo. Survivors include his children, Anthony (Debbie) DiRenzo, of Boulder, CO; Robert (Valerie) DiRenzo, of Collegeville; Lucille (Tom) Canavan, of Phoenixville; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by siblings Angela "Betty" DiRenzo, and Nicholas DiRenzo. The family will receive relatives and friends on Monday, June 11, 2012 9:00 am - 10:45 am, at the Caramenico Funeral Home Inc., Main & Walnut Sts. Norristown, PA. Mass at Holy Saviour Church, 407 E Main St., Norristown at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to Marks Colorectal Surgical Foundation, 100 Lancaster Ave, Suite 653, Wynnewood, PA 19096. Please visit www.caramenicofuneralhome.com for online info.

Published in The Times Herald on June 8, 2012
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