Published in the June 26, 2017 edition.
WAKEFIELD — Sal Orifice is this year’s Fourth of July Parade Grand Marshal.
Following is a release from the Wakefield Independence Day Committee, which is in charge of the parade:
“The Wakefield Independence Day Committee is proud and happy to announce the Grand Marshal for the 2017 Fourth of July Parade. The honor this year goes to World War II veteran Salvatore Orifice.
“Sal always likes to start any discussion about himself by beginning with his parents, who were immigrants from Italy. His parents married in 1914, and over time, had a family of 13 children, eight girls and five boys. Sal is the eighth child and the youngest of the boys.
“Brought up in Waltham during the depression everyone did their part to help keep the family afloat. Sal would have graduated from Waltham High School with the class of 1945, but enlisted with the US Navy in 1944, when he was just 17 ½ years old. Almost immediately, he was shipped to the west coast and then to the Philippines where he stayed for the duration of the war. Sal and his unit did stevedore work supplying virtually everything that the 7th Fleet needed. Sal stayed in the Navy until 1946. During World War II, his parents proudly displayed four white stars in a window in their home, one for each of their sons who were in the service. Their fifth son was also supporting the war effort by working in a defense plant, thereby getting a deferment from active duty. Once home, Sal finished his education at Bentley College enrolling in a two year program on finance and accounting.
“In 1948, Sal married his childhood sweetheart, Angelina “Lee” DeFino. They met when both were 16 and working at the Waltham Bag & Paper Company. They were married for 48 years. In 1952, after working some time for the City of Waltham, Sal put his Navy training as a mechanic to work when he and one of his brothers went into the car repair business.
“Angelina’s family was associated with the Wal-Lex Recreation Center in Waltham. It was through this connection that Sal learned of the Sunlight Alleys in Wakefield being offered for sale and decided to get out of the car repair business. He and his brother purchased the business and the Wakefield Bowladrome was born. The candlepin bowling industry got a boost when television began broadcasting bowling shows like Candlepins for Cash and Bowling for Dollars. Once that happened, the business took off; the TV coverage had changed the industry.
“Sal took advantage of this and started a junior bowling league in 1953. Anyone between the ages of eight and 12 could take part. Next to get their own league was the teenagers. Adult mixed leagues followed composed of quite a few of the teens that were in leagues prior to adulthood. Many marriages resulted from the bowling leagues. The Chi Rho Gulch Reunions began in 1965 and continue to this day. The Bowladrome was remodeled in 1956, installing the new pin setting machines. Unfortunately, in 1959 the Bowladrome was involved in a fire and was out of business. Sal vowed to rebuild and with the help of all the contractors, reopened in 13 weeks.
“Angelina passed away in 1996, leaving behind Sal and their two children, a son Donald, who died in 2011, and their daughter Sally O’Neill. After being lonesome for three years, Sal needed a companion and married again in 1999. According to Sal, ‘She’s been my lifeline.’ His second wife, the former Ann Merry, has been a bowler for 36 years and she had to pay every time she bowled and she hasn’t bowled since! Ann says ‘He chased me until I caught him!’ With Ann, Sal has five stepchildren, 15 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren with a 14th great-grandchild due in July.
“Over the years Sal’s contributions to Wakefield have been many. He has served on the Chamber of Commerce; the Board of Directors at The Savings Bank; he’s an Honorary Life Member of the Wakefield Knights of Columbus Council 104, where he helped with the construction of the building on North Avenue. He’s a member of the Saugus Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as a past president of the Bear Hill Golf Club. Some of his charity work involved fund raising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and providing numerous civic and church groups, including the Special Olympics, with a fun day at the bowling alley.
“Sal vowed many years ago that, ‘The bowling alley will be there as long as we have a family member to run it.’ The Wakefield Bowladrome has been a family-owned business for the past 65 years; it has been run for the past 15 years by daughter Sally O’Neill and nephew Tom Giordano.
“In her nomination of her dad for Grand Marshal Sally stated, ‘Dad has brought employment to our town, been a member of the Chamber of Commerce for as long as I can remember. In the 50’s he had dancing for the young adults and many successful marriages have come of those days. He is a veteran of World War II and just celebrated his 90th birthday. Throughout the years he has kept inexpensive entertainment in our town so that families could afford to spend time with their kids in an affordable way. And that’s why I nominate my dad for Grand Marshal.’
“Sal’s reaction to being chosen for Grand Marshal: ‘I’m truly shocked and humbled by this honor.”’
“For all of the above reasons and especially to honor his service to our country, the Wakefield Independence Day Committee finds it an honor and a privilege to name Sal Orifice as our choice for Grand Marshal for the 2017 Fourth of July Parade,” the committee’s release stated.