Vince and Virginia DiRaimondo are certainly one of the many “pillars” of the Hill neighborhood. They are great examples of the family spirit that is so evident with living in the Hill community.
Vince 91, and Virginia (soon to be 90) have been married for over 66 years and have lived on the Hill their entire lives. They raised three children, and are now the proud grandparents of eight, and great grandparents of eleven. They were born, grew up, worked, and now enjoy their retired lives in the same ten square blocks of the Hill neighborhood.
Vince was born in 1926 to Vincent and Mary (LoRusso) DiRaimondo, who came to the Hill from Castertermini, Sicily. They lived at 5121 Daggett during his childhood years and he attended Shaw School for grade school. Vince never attended high school, like so many others in those times, but instead went to work at Ravarino & Freschi to help his parents provide for his sister, Vincenza (Vee) and himself. While growing up, Vince played baseball and soccer in the streets of the Hill with many of the neighborhood kids who would become his many lifelong friends.
In 1944, Vince entered the US Army serving our country during World War II. He spent eighteen months in the Philippines and returned to civilian life in 1946. Vince returned to the Hill and began work at the Magic Chef Company. He also joined the Ravens, one of the many sports social clubs that were part of the Hill neighborhood at that time. Fellow members of the Ravens became, and are still many of his lifelong friends, even today.
Virginia was born in 1927 to Angelo and Jenny (Pezzene) Valli. Angelo was part of the Valli Clan that was originally from a small village outside of Milan, Italy. Virginia was born and grew up at 5343 Shaw and was the only child of the family. She attended Shaw School for grade school and then moved onto Southwest High School where she graduated in January 1946. Upon graduation, Virginia started her work career at Ralston Purina.
Vince and Virginia were acquaintances during their childhood days as they both attended Shaw School. One cold night in November 1946, Vince and Virginia were at the Excel Ice Cream Shop, located on Marconi Avenue, when Vince asked if he could walk Virginia home. That evening was the beginning of a beautiful life together.
On November 24, 1949 (Virginia’s birthday), Vince asked Virginia to marry him. Unfortunately, only one week after his proposal, Vince was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which he contracted while serving in the Philippines. Vince and Virginia were forced to postpone their wedding plans as Vince was admitted to Mount Saint Rose Hospital where he spent seven months until his release in July 1950. They were finally married on September 8, 1951.
Their first son, Paul, was born in 1954, at which time Virginia quit her job at Ralston Purina. In the same year, the Magic Chef Company discontinued operations and Vince went to work for the City of St. Louis Water Department. There he spent the next 34 ½ years as a dispatcher until his retirement in 1988. Vince also had a second job delivering medicine for Cunetto’s Pharmacy for over 15 years until they closed in 1970.
Their family continued to grow with the addition of son Michael, born in 1957 and daughter Mary in 1960. In 1961, they outgrew their flat on 2118 Edwards and moved to 2230 Stephen where they still live today. In 1964, their household increased even more as Virginia’s sick parents moved in so Virginia could care for them until the passing of her father in 1966 and her mother in 1970. Virginia then returned to the workforce joining Crescent Parts and Equipment where she worked until her retirement in 1992.
Nowadays, you can find Vince and Virginia living their busy daily lives in the Hill neighborhood as they always have. You will probably find them attending daily Mass at St. Ambrose, hanging out and having coffee with their friends at Hardee’s, participating in St. Ambrose Senior Citizens activities, attending Holy Name and Mount Carmel meetings, playing bocce at the Bocce Club or Milo’s, playing cards on Tuesdays with the Hill Ladies, having breakfast at Chris’ Pancake House on Sunday morning, or attending 5PM Mass on Saturday (they arrive at 4:20PM so they can sit in “their” pew in the back of church), or visiting the casino with their longtime Raven friends, Joe and Rose Mazzuca.
Vince and Virginia are true examples of the Italian family heritage so prevalent on the Hill.