Ocean Beach 11

Lorenzo "Larry" Azzopardi

May 1, 1937 ~ January 31, 2024 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Lorenzo Azzopardi Obituary

Lorenzo “Larry” Azzopardi age 86 of Tarpon Springs, Florida, passed away on January 31, 2024. Cherished husband of the late Maria. He was a loving brother to Sirol (the late Shelia), Sam (the late Phyllis) and the late Ephrem “Ed” (Maria “Mary”) and Stella (Tom). Larry was an adoring uncle to many nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews. He will be meet in heaven by his beloved mother Anne and his father Frank.

 

Visitation to be held

Monday ~ February 5, 2024

4:00pm-8:00pm

Fred Wood Funeral Home ~ Rice Chapel

36100 Five Mile Rd. Livonia (East of Levan)

 

Funeral Service to be held

Tuesday ~ February 6, 2024

Link to livestream click here

Instate 10:00am     Mass 11:00am

St. Alphonsus-St. Clements Parish

13540 Gould St, Dearborn, MI 48126

 

 

Lorenzo Azzopardi, known by all as “Larry,” was born on May 1, 1937, in Zabbar, Malta to Francis “Frank” Azzopardi and Marianne “Anne” nee Bonello. A few Bonello descendants were also named Larry or Laura after Anne’s father, Lawrence. Larry was the youngest of five:  Sirol, Stella, Effie “Ed,” and Sam.

Many events affected Larry’s young life profoundly. Larry told the following details to his niece, Dorothy, in March 2019.

Three months after Larry was born, his father Frank went to Portsmouth, England to increase his income and opportunity; Frank worked as a skilled carpenter in the dock yards. Essentially, Larry and his siblings grew up under the care of Anne, who was a talented and busy seamstress—as well as overwhelmed. As a result, Larry had no recollection of his father; instead, as World War II loomed from 1940 to 1945, what he knew foremost was Malta under bombardment.

The local school served as a hospital, so school was suspended until the war ended. Larry said that he “started behind” because his education began at 8 or 9 years of age. He attended the same private Christian Brother School, that later, his cousin Fred Gili (now Br. Austin Gili) would later attend.

At age 9, Larry enjoyed playing football (soccer). Sometime shortly after the war ended, he came home after a match feeling so ill that he could not sit up. A neighbor held him at the doorway until his mother came home from an errand. Larry had contracted a severe case of Maltese rheumatic fever, believed at that time to have been transmitted by goat milk; however, Larry said, “God knows what I caught in those bomb shelters.” At that time in Malta, his family had no aspirin, so to bring down his fever, his mother cut potatoes slices, wrapped them in a handkerchief, and tied it around his head. Priests would walk down the street to offer communion and last rites to anyone who rang a bell to call the priest in. The fever caused his legs to be weakened to the point that he could not walk. Larry remarked about a day he would not forget:  He heard his mother and his Uncle Rafelli praying the rosary and asking God to keep him alive.

In 1948, Frank along with the eldest brother, Sirol, immigrated first to Detroit, Michigan. These two worked with extreme diligence for the next two years to ensure five things before the rest of the family could join them: (1) All taxes had to be paid. (2) A certain dollar figure had to be saved in the bank. (3) A home had to ready. (This was “the house on Leverette Street,” which they renovated and outfitted with a refrigerator, oven, and wringer washing machine.) (4) You had to speak English. (5) Within five years, you had to become an American citizen.

In 1950, Larry was thrilled to learn that he was coming to America. At the time, he had no regret leaving. When he boarded the ship, he “spat in the Mediterranean Sea,” because all he could remember was misery in Malta. “I am came knowing that the U.S. was the reason why I survived.”

When Uncle Larry was about 12 years old, he met his father coming off the ship in New York harbor. His father was like a stranger to him. As he and his family arrived by train in Detroit, his father said to him, “See that building over there. That’s where you will be going to school.” The next day, he was enrolled there at St. Vincent Catholic School. Again, the feeling of “being behind” disturbed him. He hated going to school.

Gradually, he became acquainted with his father, and like him, Larry was industrious. He picked up a job as a newspaper boy, and somewhere around the same time, he also picked up the cigarette habit.

One day, as he was hustling down a few concrete steps to pick up his stack of newspapers to be delivered, he tripped. His arm slammed onto the basement concrete floor. Larry ended up in surgery to pin together the shattered bones of his elbow. On top of the trauma and physical pain, he also had to endure nicotine withdrawal. He was so miserable that he begged his older sister, Stella, to bring him some cigarettes. Stella, witnessing his suffering, reluctantly and sadly, brought him the cigarettes. When Larry left the hospital, he was never able to straighten that arm again.

Around 1955 when Larry would have been 18 or so, he volunteered for the U.S. military, just as his older brother Sirol had volunteered for the U.S Air Force, and Ed had volunteered for the U.S. Army. Larry was very disappointed to learn that he would be ineligible because he could not straighten his arm.

Despite all the adversity that Larry faced in his youth, somehow, he managed to transform himself with positive adventure. Eventually, he became a naturalized American citizen, he bought a car, and he hit the road for sunny California in 1962, where he lived for a year or two.

Larry returned home to his family in the Detroit area, “all tanned and handsome,” remarked Maria with a smile. She would become his future wife.

On Nov 28, 1964, Larry Azzopardi married Maria (Debattista) Tabone, who was also a Maltese immigrant when she was a teenager. On their beautiful wedding day at St. Alphonsus in Dearborn, Michigan, Larry was 27 years old, and Maria was 19, nearly 20 years old.

They built a good and solid life together:  Larry went to work for the General Electrical repair shop—until GE stopped repairing small appliances. Next, he went to work for General Motors Fisher Body Division, following after his brother Ed. Maria worked her way up in the business division for Wink Chevrolet.  Starting out, they lived in a small apartment for 9 years until they could afford to pay cash for a home in Plymouth, Michigan. Sometime around 1990, they moved to Clearwater, Florida, eventually building their dream home in nearby Tarpon Springs. Larry increased the value of that home with his skilled workmanship, creating a stained-glass window and doorway and reworking the entrance hallway with hand-laid mosaic tile. Both of them enjoyed their community and local Catholic Church, and they built a network of friends.

They were not blessed with children of their own, but they were involved with their many nieces and nephews, who fondly remember the dolls and Tonka trucks that Uncle Larry and Aunt Maria gave to them. They came to all the family baptisms and communions and holiday parties that they could go to, and sometimes, they hosted a New Years’ Eve party. Many of the family pictures over the year include Maria—but not Larry—because Larry would be taking the picture. Always, they continued to be generous with thoughtful gifts. They opened their home graciously whenever any family member could manage a trip to Florida.

Despite the many hardships that they left behind in Malta, Larry and Maria returned to visit the family in the motherland. Larry returned at least four times. On his first trip to Malta, Larry filmed the graduation of his youngest cousin, Fred, at the same school that Larry had attended briefly as a child. His last trip included a visit to his older sister, Stella, who lived in a Gozitan nursing home.

Larry and Maria Azzopardi remained faithful, life-long Catholics. Admirably, Larry rose up from suffering. Both remain in the hearts of their family.

Larry and Maria held sick children in their hearts. Donations to their favorite charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, are welcomed. In addition, donations to the Alzheimer’s Society and the American Lung Association would be a worthy way to honor Larry Azzopardi.

The surviving family members include:

Azzopardi brothers:  Sirol Azzopardi and Sam Pardy; Ed Azzopardi will greet his brother in heaven. Larry’s sisters-in-laws include respectively Sheila nee Good, Phyllis nee Gatt, and Mary nee Gatt (all deceased).

Azzopardi sister:  Mary Stella Summers and brother-in-law Thomas (Sultana) Summers

DeBattista sisters-in-law:  Carmela Mizzi and Nata Allegretto and brothers-in-law respectively Mike Mizzi and Ronald Allegretto

DeBattista brothers-in-law:  Tony DeBattista and Frank DeBattista and sisters-in-law respectively Censa and Doris

Azzopardi nieces:  Kathy Prew, JoAnne Azzopardi, Terri Allendorf, Patricia Angelini, Dorothy Summers, Carol Prew, and many grand-nieces

Azzopardi nephews:  Jim Azzopardi, Tom Summers, Ronald Summers, Dennis Pardy, Gary Pardy and Randy Pardy (meeting Uncle Larry at heaven’s door), Mark Azzopardi, John Azzopardi, and many grand-nephews.

DeBattista nieces:  Sharon Pulo, Darlene Inguanez, Anita Vella, Joanne, Miriam, Christine, Tonia, and many grand-nieces

DeBattista nephews:  Paul DeBattista, Paul Mizzi, Mike Mizzi, and many grand-nephews

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Services

Visitation
Monday
February 5, 2024

4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Fred Wood Funeral Home
36100 Five Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154

Instate
Tuesday
February 6, 2024

10:00 AM
St. Alphonsus-St. Clement Parish
13540 Gould St.
Dearborn, MI 48126

Funeral Mass
Tuesday
February 6, 2024

11:00 AM
St. Alphonsus-St. Clement Parish
13540 Gould St.
Dearborn, MI 48126

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