Il Cenacolo Person of the Year 2007 Wednesday, December 5, 2007 Marines Memorial Club San Francisco, California
Joseph B. Brucia Major Benefactor to the San Francisco Opera
Joseph Brucia was born February 27, 1915 to Angela Farina and Giuseppe Brucia, immigrants from Naples and Sicily. They raised their children to retain the rich Italian language and culture; hence, every day, after his American school, Joe was rushed to an Italian school located at "Fugazzi Hall" on Green Street. Italian was spoken at the dinner table, but English crept into the sentences as the children progressed through grammar school. "Our home language ended English words with vowels." The confusion caused by immersion in two languages resolved itself as he grew and learned to embrace the best of both cultures.
At the family ranch in Santa Clara, where his father had an olive mill and winery, Joe spent a fondly remembered part of his youth. He attended a three-teacher country school. . .sometimes conveyed there by horse and buggy. "That lifestyle created a balance in my life not possible today as I found myself a country boy in the city and a city boy in the country." When the ranch was sold, the family moved to San Francisco where Joe attended Lowell High School. He returned to Santa Clara Valley to attend Santa Clara University. After graduation he worked in his father's olive oil production and sales business.
Joe served for three years in the infantry in the Pacific theater during World War II, and was fortunate to return unharmed to rejoin his father's business. After that business was sold, Joe, for a time, owned a sardine processing plant at Moss Landing. The demise of the sardine fishery led him to purchase a health food manufacturing and distribution business which he continues to operate successfully today. Joe married his wife Frances in 1948; they have three grown children, Louise, Larry and Francisca and six grandchildren.
Joseph Brucia is justifiably proud of his father Giuseppe's role in the founding the San Francisco Opera in 1922. "The San Francisco Opera created a plaque bestowing its highest honor to my father. It is proudly mounted in a prominent place in our home." While an outstanding supporter of the San Francisco Opera himself, he has often dedicated his generous gifts in memory of Giuseppe. "It is with some surprise and not without humility that I find myself selected 'Man of the Year' by the Cenacolo Club. I never considered myself an extraordinary individual. . .when I contributed the funds for the first simulcast of the San Francisco Opera I did it to honor my father, Giuseppe Brucia." Tonight we are pleased to honor his son Joseph.