Frank Francesco Roselli
July 25, 1934 - April 6, 2023
Frank Roselli was called to be with God and passed away peacefully on April 6, 2023. Frank lived an amazing and storied life that started with humble beginnings as the son of farmers in Italy then saw him emigrate to America where he became a famous chemist.
Frank “Francesco” was born in the summer of 1934 in Colombara, Italy a small suburb of the village of Frontone in Le Marche region of central Italy. As a boy he worked in the nearby fields of San Savino with his parents Yolanda and Arduino Roselli. They lived a simple but happy life as small farmers.
Wanting an education for their only son (Frank’s brother Natalino died as an infant) Arduino and Yolanda scraped together their meager savings and along with help from Uncle Antonio in America, they were able to send Frank to the seminary school in nearby Cagli. It was not usual for farmers' children to attend school, let alone a seminary, but for Frank this was the chance of a lifetime.
After attending the seminary school for three years and passing some difficult exams, Frank earned acceptance to the prestigious Instituto Technico Industriale Montani in Fermo, Italy. A proud family moment for sure, but finances would be a challenge. Arduino, Yolanda and Zio Antonio once again made his education a family priority and partnered to pay the tuition and his room and board.
Fermo was a world away from Colombara and Frontone, but Frank was headed to college! Aware of the efforts and sacrifices made by his family, Frank did not disappoint. He graduated with honors from Fermo and landed a job with the polymer research group at the Montecatini chemical company in Terni. His family’s efforts were rewarded with the ultimate prize!
However, Frank’s life would soon take a major turn. Zio Antonio and his father Arduino were now both in America and urged Frank to come over and pursue his technical career in California. Leaving his job in Terni that he had worked so hard to acquire was a major life decision and huge risk, but Frank agreed and left for America with his mom in 1955, leaving everything they knew behind in their beloved Italy.
In America, Frank took English classes at a Canada Junior college in San Mateo CA. After working a variety of jobs, as most immigrants did, Frank landed a good job at Diamond Shamrock chemical company, which would be the first of many stepping stones in a successful business career as a chemist.
Frank remained connected to his Italian heritage by going to many Italian picnics and dances that were part of a strong Italian-American culture in California at the time. It was at one of these picnics that Frank would meet his soul mate and love of his life, Aurora Pialorsi. They married in 1959, honeymooned in Mexico City - then would travel the world side by side for the next 64 years!
Frank always had a maverick streak in him and a spirit for adventure. He willingly took on new challenges and opportunities to advance his career which included moves to live in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He often took business trips to all parts of Europe and the world. Many times Aurora would travel with Frank and they would have their young daughter Pia in tow as well. On these trips, Frank often found a way to include visits back to Frontone Italy, where he still owns the home he had built for his parents.
Frank, Aurora and Pia lived in Redwood City for many years. Frank’s career as a Chemist continued to thrive with a number of his chemical compounds earning US patents at prestigious companies like Diamond Shamrock and Koppers Chemical. Frank developed a reputation as the “godfather” of chemical polymers development. As Frank was nearing retirement age, he had a second career as a sought after chemical consultant for new start up companies that were eager to design applications for his various compounds, and wanted to leverage Frank’s expertise. One of these companies had Frank involved in the building of the new San Francisco Bay Bridge.
It was at this point that Frank once again set out on a new adventure. This time moving to the wine country of Napa Valley, CA. Frank & Aurora found a beautiful spot with a view that reminded him of the hills of San Savino, Italy where he roamed as a boy and could not resist this new opportunity. It also came with land for a vineyard, which aligned with one of his favorite hobbies as a home winemaker.
So, Frank and Aurora once again started a new chapter in their life moving to Yountville, CA where they designed a beautiful Mediterranean style house overlooking the vineyards. The new home was donned “Villa San Savino” in honor of his parents and his life back home in Italy.
The circle was now complete - Frank had created an amazing refugio to sit with a glass of red wine on the loggia and watch the sunset over his vineyards each night. For the next 30 years, Frank and Aurora hosted many large family gatherings and festas at the Villa - among them Easter celebrations, wedding anniversaries and the important feast day “La Madonna del Buon Consiglio”.
Frank always loved the outdoors. Whether it was taking a long drive with Aurora to explore new places, fishing the streams in the Sierra foothills or cycling - which reminded him of his childhood and the feeling of freedom he experienced riding his bike on windy dirt roads to Pergola or Cagli. When his cycling days came to an end, Frank took up hiking. He would spend hours scaling his beloved mountains “Catria” and “Monte Acuto” in Italy, often collecting fossils for his mantle. In California, he covered hundreds of miles of trails at the Crystal Springs park in the Peninsula and later the Napa Valley hills near his new home in Yountville.
Frank also never lost his love of caring for plants and animals. Frank would spend hours tending to his landscape at his villa in Napa, or walking the vineyard assessing the grapes. He also raised chickens, doves, and tumbler pigeons. Frank loved to cook. He was famous for his breakfast frittatas and his delicious spaghetti “sugo”, which had a unique taste every time because he never wrote down his recipe! One of his favorite creations was the fish Cioppino he made for the family on Christmas Eve.
Frank never forgot his Italian roots, traveling back to Frontone with Aurora twice a year for many years to visit with family and friends and celebrate Ferragosto together. Later he would bring his daughter Pia, her husband Don, his two granddaughters Molly and Penny Murphy who were the light of his life. Together they would walk the trails of San Savino and the streets of Cagli and Pergola, as he proudly shared amazing stories of this other world he experienced as a child. So many great memories were created on these family trips. Frank even published a book “Letters To My Granddaughters” documenting his early life in Italy. Frank also was the founding member of the small family wine business “San Savino Vineyard Wines”. The label honors his family legacy in Italy with their story and a picture of his grandfather Francesco Roselli.
Frank was a proud member of many Italian- American clubs including the Leonardo DaVinci Society, Museo Italo-Americano, Pacific Musical Society, Cenacolo, and the Italian Catholic Federation.
Frank lived a long, full, and beautiful life. His strong faith in God and love for his family was always his trusty guide. He will be forever missed and never forgotten by his family and many friends. We are all grateful to have had him in our lives for so long.
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