- Eulogy for Eddie Durso read by Julie Durso
- Hello, I am Julie Durso, one of the great Edward Durso's
nine (9) grandchildren.
- How can you begin to speak about 89 years of a man's
- Eddie Durso was a husband, a father, a musician, an author,
a Parole Officer and his most proud role was that of a grandfather.
- Let's take a few minutes to go back to his roots.
- John Durso (Eddie's father) came to America on September
12th 1903 alone at the age of 16 to start his American dream. By the time
he was 21 he had a contracting business and a catering truck business.
He did very well in this new land, fell in love with and married Angelina
- Angelina and John became the proud parents of a 14-pound
baby boy Edward on April 1st 1918 in South Philadelphia. That's not an
April fool's joke -- he really was 14 pounds at birth!
- He had a brother Teddy and two sisters Terry and Frances.
In 1921, the family traveled back to Italy to visit John Durso's relatives
in his hometown in Messina, Sicily for a 2-year stay.
- Upon returning to America, they settled again in South
Philadelphia joined by John's two brother's Joe and Nick. But, in 1931
the family was rocked with heartache when Eddie's sister Frances passed
away at the age of 11 of meningitis. This was a hurt that Eddie spoke about
all of his life.
- The family found it hard to cope but they stayed strong
and continued on.
- Eddie attended the Baldwin Grade School, Vare Junior
High School and Graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1938.
It was in Vare Junior High School that he found his calling to be a musician,
a drummer. He also found love of the sport of boxing and it was at Vare
junior high that he met his closest friend throughout his teenage years
Freddy Cocozza who later became the RCA recording artist and MGM movie
star Mario Lanza. They were inseparable spending most of their time together
along with other friends. Creating havoc on the streets of South Philadelphia
and Wildwood, New Jersey. Mario loved Eddie's toughness and unwavering
ability to keep each other out of trouble. Even Lanza's parents publicly
said that they felt at ease when their boy was out with Eddie.
- Eddie began to take the drums very seriously when he
became a percussionist in the South Philadelphia High School orchestra
under the direction of Jay Spect. After his graduation in 1938 his love
of boxing continued when he became a semi-professional featherweight fighter.
This career was interrupted by his call to serve his country in WWII in
the Army Air Corps where his talent was called upon to perform and tour
as a bandsman with many orchestras.
- Upon coming out of the army he had many careers in addition
to music; he was also a draftsman and an insurance salesman. In 1951 Mario
Lanza came back to Philadelphia as a major movie star and gave a concert
at the Academy of Music. Eddie was proud when Mario announced his friend
from the stage. Their friendship continued until Lanza's death at the age
38 in 1959.
- Eddie was selected to be his pallbearer, and continued
to talk about Lanza at the requests of the many Lanza fan clubs around
the world. In 1992, he wrote "My Memories of Mario Lanza" so
the world could enjoy Mario according to Eddie's recollection of their
- His most fortunate moment in life was when he met his
soul mate, Irene. They fell in love and as we all know, their union flourished
and lasted for almost 50 years. It was a perfect match.
- They were married and Eddie also began his position of
a Probation and Parole Officer with the Common Pleas Court with the City
of Philadelphia and joined his father who was a Court Officer.
- He worked as a Probation and Parole Officer for almost
30 years. Now he focused on working two jobs that being a Parole Officer
and musician to support his family -- wife Irene, sons Frank, John and
Eddie Jr and his daughter Carol Ann. He was the perfect father, there when
you needed him, always ready to pick up the pieces and make it better.
His phrase "Even if you're wrong, you're right with me" meant
a world to his children. This meant no matter what happened or what you
did -- never worry because he was behind you 100%. His simplified sayings
such as: "You are what you eat", "You're doing a hellava
job" or "Aren't we having a grand time" say it all.
- He became a successful local bandleader and played society
engagements throughout the area and even played for Pope John Paul II.
He was a life member of the Philadelphia, Norristown and Atlantic City
Musicians Union. For many years he was a drummer with the Verdi Band of
Norristown and performed with the Ringling Bros Circus band. He was also
a member of the Sons of Italy.
- Through all the years, Irene kept a perfectly running
home; supporting him and her children in any way she could. She was the
perfect mother. Each child was educated and eventually married.
- They carried the tradition of what family life should
be through Eddie and Irene's shining example. Again, things changed for
the better in 1977. Eddie became overjoyed with his newfound role of grandfather.
After the birth of Jerry, following in succession were John Jr, Michael,
Stephanie, Jude, Anthony, Kathleen, Lisa and Julie.
- Spending time with us grandchildren was one of the happiest
period of his and Gram's lives.
- This was certainly some of the happiest and most memorable
times in our lives as well. There were trips, ballgames, dance recitals;
babysitting and many other activities and "Poppy and Gram" enjoyed
every second of it. He was further blessed recently with great-grandchildren
Kayla, Isabella and Ryan.
- Poppy retired in 1980 from the Probation Department and
kept himself active with volunteer work at Roxborough Memorial Hospital,
activities with the grandchildren and trips to Atlantic City.
- Often, if the slots were unkind, even in his late 70's
Poppy would walk 3 miles from the North end of the Boardwalk to visit his
cousin in Ventnor.
- On January 12, 1999 the good Lord came for the love of
Poppy's life, Gram.
- In the following years Poppy was lost without her. He
often said "What a life without my wife"
- He struggled with Parkinson's disease and much of the
happiness of earlier years that included Gram eluded him. He came to all
family functions and vacations but he was still unsettled--until now as
he is with Gram and his family and friends who have also passed. He is
now with them in paradise.
- We will miss him greatly and we cherished every minute
of his hard work, time and wisdom with us. He was and will always be our
- I would like to end with his favorite acceptance speech
when he was asked to say a few words at his birthday parties. He would
- "Thank you on behalf of my own individual self and
all those who made me concerned"
- Thank you Poppy, we love you!
- Eddie Durso - April 1, 1918 May 17, 2007
- Video Tribute