Rolando J. Tenne was born September 1, 1930 in the picturesque hill town of Montenero Val Cocchiara in the Abruzzi region of Central Italy. He passed away on February 14, 2017 at the age of 86.
In the fall of 1935 Rolando and his mother, Emerinziana and siblings Francesco, Asunta and Emilio boarded the SS Rex and departed the Port of Naples to begin their voyage to the United States. Roland could recall in vivid detail the events of these days: the goodbyes to family and friends, the drive to Naples, the rich blue-green water of the Port, the soft smoke of Vesuvius in the distance, remaining family on the dock blending into the distance and, ultimately, the Statue of Liberty greeting them in New York City.
The family settled into the Southside of Chicago (Irondale) where his father was awaiting them. They began their new life in America, and like many immigrants, faced the challenges of making a new life in the big city. He had a colorful childhood living in the neighborhood with other immigrants who came from all over the world. There were activities available at Trumbull Park to keep the local youth occupied including swimming, baseball, football and CYO boxing. Rolando proved to be athletically gifted and it was participating in these sports that he demonstrated his abilities in boxing and football. He was offered a scholarship to College of Idaho in Caldwell for both of these sports, however, this never materialized due to the death of his brother Emilio in 1952 which forced him to stay with his parents in Chicago. The neighborhood was a tight knit group of friends who always looked out for each other and also protected one another. It was here that Rolando made lifelong friends, some of whom had also relocated to Boise in the 1950s to play football at the College of Idaho.
After returning from his time serving in the U.S. Army, he met the Irish love of his life Mary Ellen Devitt in 1960, and they were married at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church in Chicago on January 28, 1961. They recently celebrated their 56th year of marriage. In 1973 the family of seven, including Emerinziana, moved from South Holland, Illinois to Boise, Idaho where they have resided for the last 43 years. Boise became their adopted home where they made many friends and also raised their four children.
Rolando was a 36 year employee of “the phone company” and worked for a number of branches throughout his career. He began at Western Electric in Chicago and later for Mountain Bell in Boise. He retired in 1988. He was a member of the Telephone Pioneers. After Roland’s retirement from the phone company, he and Mary Ellen were also in the real estate business for over 25 years.
Roland and Mary Ellen were also part the Italian American Club of Boise and were participating members for 40 years. It was in this club that they met many of their now lifelong friends. They participated in many of the club activities over the years as well as served in Board positions and planning committees. More recently, with the bocce resurgence, they had enjoyed league play, while eating and drinking wine and hanging out with the paesanos at Municipal Park.
Rolando is remembered for his strong Catholic faith, love and loyalty of family, Italian pride and heritage, and had a belief that nobody came to his house without a place at the kitchen table. Many guests were made to feel welcome in his home including friends and acquaintances of their children’s friends. Nobody has ever left the Tenne household hungry or without a beverage or glass of wine. The house became a pseudo sanctuary for all those who entered and Mary Ellen’s cooking has become somewhat legendary over the years.
Rolando is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen Tenne; children: Mark (Sandy) of Boise, Mike (Wendy) of Seattle, Katie (Bob) Walker of Boise, and Tony (Alie) also of Boise. He had eight grandchildren who will remember him for his kisses on each cheek as they entered and left their home. A special thanks to Dr. Alexandra Meier and the team from First Choice Home Health for all of their amazing care and support. In lieu of flowers, donations to The Alzheimer’s Association, 6126 W. State Street Suite #406 Boise, ID 83703 or online at www.alz.org/idaho
A Vigil service will be held at 7:00 PM on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Holy Apostle Catholic Church, 6300 N. Meridian Rd. with a Funeral Mass at 11:00 AM on Friday, February 17, 2017 also at Holy Apostles Catholic Church. Burial will follow at Dry Creek Cemetery. Services are under the direction of Accent Funeral Home, Meridian. Remembrances may be left for the family at www.AccentFuneral.com