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Nello Carlini

1924 - 2018
Nello Carlini Obituary
Nello Carlini

July 29, 1924–March 18, 2018

Nello Carlini, beloved husband, brother, uncle and friend, was laid to rest on Saturday, May 5, under a shady tree in the backyard of his home of more than 40 years on Liberty Street.

Nello was a bon vivant, raconteur, linguist, world traveler and gifted educator with an encyclopedic knowledge of literature, music, ballet and theater. He had perfect recall of wildly inappropriate jokes, regularly dispensed wisdom to his large circle of devoted friends and never hesitated to share an opinion.

Nello was born in Ceccano, Italy, and immigrated to Niagara Falls, NY, with his parents in 1927. He spent two years as a seminarian at St. Bonaventure in Western New York before deciding he wasn't priestly material. He went on to complete his undergraduate education in Latin, English and philosophy at the University of Buffalo. He began his lifelong teaching career at Canisius College in Buffalo, followed by stints in Tennessee and Xavier University in New Orleans. In 1948, he began teaching at military bases around the world, including on Guam, and in Turkey, Libya and Germany, where he was ultimately dismissed for being gay.

After settling in San Francisco in 1961, he completed a Master's Degree at San Francisco State where he also taught comparative literature part-time. He taught Advanced Placement English at Sequoia High School in Redwood City for 23 years, inspiring fear and respect in his students in equal measure. Along the way, he was an actor, Peace Corps volunteer in Poland, ESL teacher and frequent traveler to Cuba, where he met his adored husband, Agustin Sanchez Rivera, in 2002. They married in 2015.

Nello was a proud member and fierce advocate of San Francisco's gay community. He acted at Theatre Rhinoceros, the city's LGBT theater company, and was a president of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. He lived with HIV for more than 20 years.

Although he suffered multiple illnesses in his last years, he never lost his intense curiosity about the world or his sense of humor. He was cared for during this time by his husband and an army of friends, chief among them Gemiliano Carlini. He died peacefully at home from complications of lung cancer, surrounded by the love of friends and family.

He leaves behind his husband, siblings Theresa, Norma and Robert, nieces, nephews and friends who are better for having known him, and will never quite be the same without him.

In 2014, on his 90th birthday, the Niagara Gazette, his hometown paper, asked him to look back on his well-traveled life. "I've had the greatest life in the world," he said. "I've seen things I wanted to see, I've met people I've adored and despised. When I die, no one can say 'Oh, poor Nello.' They sure as hell can't say that." He was right.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 6, 2018
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