Greatest Generation Still Going Strong

The greatest generation still lives! Here in Baton Rouge, that generation is epitomized by the Crifasi family.
Their mother and father immigrated from Italy in the early 1900’s. Of the five boys and three girls, six are still alive, including five who reside in the Baton Rouge. They range in age from 83 to 100.
Every Saturday the Baton Rouge five gather at the lunchroom at Hi Nabor on Florida Boulevard to eat breakfast, catch up on the latest family news, and reminisce about old times. Brothers Sam and Peter Crifasi have passed away, and sister Jenny who is 100 lives in Houston. The five who live in Baton Rouge, who rarely miss the Saturday breakfasts, are Rosemary Crifasi Orr, Brother Eldon Crifasi, Francis Crifasi, Ben Crifasi, and Lorraine Crifasi Drago.
Ben Crifasi, 95, served in World War II as a corpsman for the Navy and Marine Corps.  He still goes to work almost everyday at Hi Nabor.
Brother Eldon has been a Catholic brother for more than 75 years and is still working at Catholic High, where he works on alumni affairs.
All of the siblings grew up in the Fairfields area and went to school at Fairfields Elementary School. They still speak fondly of their years at the school.
The brothers and sisters have a lot of children.  Sam and Ben have nine each. Peter has six. Francis has five, all boys. Lorraine and Rosemary have four each.  Jenny has one.  Of course, Brother Eldon has no natural children but he does claim thousands of young men he has taught at schools all over the deep South.
On the day I visited the breakfast, Francis’ son Fred Crifasi came to visit the group. He conducted an interview with the five siblings and asked them to recall memories of their mom and dad and growing up in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s.
The video was aired live on Facebook and had more than 6,000 views two days later.  Dozens of viewers posted about their admiration for the Crifasi family.
Participants love coming to the breakfasts.  Otherwise, they would be so overwhelmed by obligations to children and grandchildren that they would begin to lose contact.
One of those missing from the group is brother Sam Crifasi, the founder of Hi Nabor. He was a favorite of the group and is greatly missed. Sam Crifasi’s wife Mary Lou died in 2009, several years before Sam passed away in 2014. Those years were very hard on Sam.
Every Sunday after she died, Sam bought a dozen roses to take to her grave. On the way there, he would play the song Mary Lou.
At the cemetery, Sam would sit and talk to Mary Lou, bringing her up-to-date on the latest family news. Before leaving the cemetery, he would call home to hear her voice on the answering machine.
Sam and Mary Lou Crifasi were married for 63 years. Now both are buried at Resthaven Gardens.
Fred Crifasi is an attorney and plans to run for Judge next year.

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