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Franco Bruno Zilli

January 22, 1938 October 10, 2019
Franco Bruno Zilli
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Obituary for Franco Bruno Zilli

Franco Bruno Zilli, known to everyone as just Franco, was the last child of Rosina (nee
Campagna) and Antonio Zilli, in Castions, a small farming town in northeastern Italy. He is
survived by the love of his life for 37 years, Merry McQuiddy, his two sons, Tony (Pam) and
John Zilli, his brother, Angelo (Marie) Zilli , and his beloved cousin, Guido (Eileen) Campagna,
his cousins in Toronto, Alverina Dellamora, Mirella Candido and Oliviana Cancelier who grew
up with him in Italy, as well as other extended family members, including his “daughter”
Kimberly Bronk and “grandson” Ryan Bronk (Merry’s children).

Franco remembered bombs dropped from both German and American planes, and his mother
wrapping him in a blanket and running outside to hide in a haystack. He recalled years later
picking up and playing with live grenades and other ammunition that, fortunately, never
exploded.

After the war, Italy had little to offer many of the young men, so his father came to Canada to
pave the way for Angelo to immigrate there. His father later returned to Italy, and when Franco
was 18 years old, put him on a boat that landed in rough seas in Nova Scotia. Franco turned 19 during the voyage. All Franco knew on his arrival was football (soccer), farming (yes, including stomping grapes) and he spoke not a word of English. He took a train to Windsor, where he lived in a boarding house with other Italians, always trying not to be intrusive, trying not to eat as
much as he really wanted, and laboring in cement work, mixing it, lifting buckets of it to the
bricklayers.

Eventually, Franco married Gloria and he immigrated to the United States where she resided.
Franco began a lifelong career as a residential rough carpenter, working his way up to foreman, later forming a company with his brother. Their business cards said “Master Carpentry, Old World Carpenters” – probably never questioned by customers after they heard Franco’s and Angelo’s thick Italian accents.

Years after getting divorced, Franco entered Sacred Heart Seminary Rehab to get help to quit
drinking, an unhealthy effort he used to try to quiet his anxiety and panic attacks. He died after
42 years of sobriety and was a role model for countless others coming to their first AA meetings.

Thirty-seven years ago, Franco and Merry met while ballroom dancing, fell instantly in love and have been together ever since.

Franco loved to get dressed in his beautiful suits and wear any one of his small collection of
beautiful watches and rings. He cut a handsome figure and was amused when those who met
him shook his strong, strong hand, learned he was a rough carpenter. He studied World War II, knowing every American and German plane, tank and historical event. He loved hockey, Latin music and the big band sounds, unable to adopt the sounds of today. He couldn’t stop listening to the politics of the day.

Franco was much loved. His friendly ways gave acceptance and caring to all who met him, from fellow immigrants, every store clerk who ever helped him, from the successful to those who were struggling. The longer you knew him, the more often you would have heard his favorite stories and jokes, and felt the comfort of his strong hugs.

On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, Franco suffered a sudden and massive stroke that took him from us early October 10th. He will be missed.

Based on Franco’s wishes, he will be cremated. There will be no services immediately following his cremation, but there will be a gathering of his family and friends in a celebration of his life at a time and location to be determined within a few weeks. Please feel free to text your email address to merry@mcquiddylaw.com so we can notify you of the date, time and location.

If you wish to make a contribution in memory of Franco, please send your contribution in his
honor to Alcoholics Anonymous, 380 Hilton Road, Suite 1, Ferndale, MI 48220, or to the
Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Development Office, 1820 Mount Elliott Street, Detroit, MI 48207, or
to a charity of your choice.

Goodnite, love of my life.

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