Tony (Antonio) Orsillo: Cement mason who ‘built Seattle’ loved his garden, grandchildren

Tony Orsillo

Tony (Antonio) Orsillo passed away April 6, 2019 at Swedish Hospital in Edmonds, WA. Tony was born on February 10, 1933 in the tiny Italian hill town of Pago Veiano, an hour outside of Naples. He was born in to a large farming family, where he learned to grow fruits and vegetables which became his life long passion.

In 1960, at the urging of his older brother Danny, he came to the United States for work and travel. He ended up staying for the weather and for love. On July 15, 1962, he married Doris Knutter of Polo, MO. They had met during the World’s Fair in Seattle, WA, while he worked as a dishwasher at Clark’s Around the Clock restaurant on Broadway. Speaking little English at the time, he got a job working on the railroad laying track, but after a short time he quit. In 1964 he joined the Cement Masons & Plasterers Local 528, where he found his true calling. In his more than 50 years with Local 528, he built Seattle. He worked on projects as varied as Interstate 5, the Washington State Convention Center, the bus tunnel, Century Square, the West Point sewage treatment plant, Rainier Square, multiple Boeing facilities and probably the patio in your backyard.

In 1966 Tony became an American citizen. On trips back “home” to Italy, he was referred to as the “American”, but in the United States, he was the “Italian”. He loved both of his homes equally: he was proud of his Italian roots, but gratified that he could make a home and life in his adopted country. He was fond of telling people that he, like so many other people in the U.S., was a refugee and this country was made up of refugees. And he was quick to remind his sons that they were the sons of a refugee.
After his retirement from concrete, Tony stayed very active by continuing to garden and work on various projects around his home in Lynnwood. His greatest joy came from spending time with his grandchildren, whom he often said were the reason he was able to continue living after the passing of his wife in 2013.
Tony had a contagious spirit, welcoming people into his home and making them feel like they were close friends, even if they had only just met. He was always ready to give people fresh fruits or vegetables straight from his garden, or share a plate of fava or a big bowl of spaghetti.

Tony is survived by his two sons, Joe and Rick; his daughter-in-law, Gail; his grandchildren, Kaylee, Brendan and Aidan; extended family from Pago Veiano to Seattle, and friends too numerous to name here. He will be deeply missed by all those who knew and loved him.

He was laid to rest on April 14, 2019 at Purdy and Walters at Floral Hills in Lynnwood, WA.

A memorial service will be held at Creekside Church Lynnwood at May 18, 2019 at 1p.m.
18527 60th Ave. W., Lynnwood, WA 98037
(425) 778-4165

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *