IACS Member Shirley Martignoni Fedeli Receives Ordine Della Stella D'Italia

Jul 31, 2015 762

by Sandra Tornberg

On June 2, 2015, Shirley Martignoni Fedeli received the Knight of the Order of the Stella d'Italia Award in Chicago, Illinois. Conferred by the President of Italy, it was presented by the Consul General of Italy in Chicago, Adriano Monti, and Italian Senator RenatoTurano. This award is given for outstanding work in promoting Italian Culture, education and language.

A lifelong resident of Rockford, Illinois, Shirley and her husband Eugene (Gene) moved to St. Clair Shores two years ago to be closer to their daughter Lisa, who is a principal in the Redford School District. Shirley was a teacher for thirty years, teaching in both public and private schools. Shirley and Gene have been married since 1959. Shirley's heritage is Sicilian and Lombard, and Gene's family was also Lombard.

Shirley was involved in many activities in the Italian community in Rockford. Some of the highlights include:
• She organized the Culture Tent of the Festa Italiana for twenty years, which displayed banners of the various regions of Italy, their foods, and history.
• Shirley developed the Amici Italiani Folk Dance Troupe in 1985, where a variety of regional dances were taught. The dance troupe also performs in many cities through the mid-west. Amici Italian celebrates 30 year this year.
• Her daughter Lisa developed a youth troupe as a feeder group for the adult troupe. Amici Italiani Youth Troupe continues today.
• In 1995, Shirley became editor of an Italian Newspaper called Pappagallo. It is still active and reaches 1700 families through mailing or online.
• Shirley organized an exchange program of students from Rockford and their sister city in Italy, Ferentino (FR) in the province of Lazio.
• Shirley and her husband, Gene brought back the traditions of the St. Joseph Altar originally set up in family homes. They worked at the 1857 Graham-Ginestra House for many years sharing their Italian Culture.
• Later, they had special classes on how to make (cuccidatti) fig cookies at the Ethnic Heritage Museum. Also, they taught how to make the elaborate cookies that represent the symbols for the Altar steps.
• In 1985 Shirley became a Charter Member of the Ethnic Heritage Museum and served as president for over 10 years. Later, she became Chairman of the Italian Gallery in the museum until 2011.

In addition, Shirley volunteered at many other Rockford organizations and events and loved every minute of it!

We are very proud that Shirley and Gene became members of the IACS. They have many great ideas and are enthusiastic to share them with us. A plan is already being formulated with the IACS Gioventu' to develop our own dance troupe!

Congratulations to Shirley for this well-deserved honor.

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