Alessandro Baccari, Jr.

Alessandro Baccari, Jr.
Renaissance Man
December 4, 2010

The play "Little Guy," starring a local seven-year-old Italian boy, opened at the Fairmont Hotel theater in 1935. So began Al's dedication to performance, to art and to music--his cornerstone for a meaningful life. As that young boy took the stage, could anyone have predicted the fascinating journey his life would take?

Al's depression-era childhood was blessed with a loving family: a father, Alessandro, Sr., a mother, Edith and a half-sister, Albina. His father's nationally recognized creative talents in art, music and playwriting attracted many celebrities to their home. Al's father would ask visitors like Eugene O'Neill, Benny Bufano and Paul Robeson, "Would you be the father of my son for a day?" Numerous surrogate fathers helped train Al to listen, communicate and learn about their professions and businesses. This rare education in mature socializing would nurture Al's relationships throughout his life.

Cherished childhood memories include Al's training in ballet, fencing and pugilism, all at his grandmother Amilia's insistence.

Al's weekly assignment at a young age was to write a 500-word essay which his father mentored. As years passed, that discipline of converting thinking to writing became a reliable tool for serving him at Santa Clara University, UC Berkeley's graduate school and beyond.

The culmination of a family's dedicated involvement brought forth "a renaissance boy with learned compassion."

By chance, in a public park years ago, Al met Cathy. Their marriage was enriched with time-honored Italian family commitments. Some hard times, of course, but they lived life with love, devotion and an appreciation for their sons Gregory and Stephen. Al gratefully acknowledges Cathy's determination as wife, mother and muse that enabled his artistic life to flourish amid his business enterprises. An unrelenting enterpriser, Alessandro Baccari and Associates developed nationally acclaimed socioeconomic studies; produced television documentaries honored throughout Europe; and created award-winning programs, one hosted by Mike Wallace.

Al's photographic art in books, museums and galleries is internationally recognized. Kodak and Polaroid have honored his excellence in photography. The recent International Award from the American Society of Photographers also attests to his creative talents.

Pope John Paul's Benemerenti Medal for dedicated service to the Catholic Church was a blessing. Italy also knighted Al for his authorship of The Chronicles of the Italian Cathedral of the West: A History of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco's North Beach. A Fulbright Grant and a Distinguished American Scholars Grant highlight a worthy career in education and public service including that as a California ambassador of goodwill to Europe. Al's full list of awards and honors could fill three lifetimes.

On behalf of all San Franciscans he won a rigorous campaign to protect Fisherman's Wharf as an historical district. The annual Blessing of the Fishing Fleet and the Wharf's Historical Society cherish Al's continued involvement and rigorous support.

For today's Al, you need only to engage him in conversation to discover Al Baccari's humanity. He looks into your eyes, listens with patience and speaks with sincerity. That's the endearing way he earns your respect.

The Baccari family and Al are inseparable. So tonight, Il Cenacolo's "Man of the Year Award" honors Alessandro Baccari Jr. for a life of admirable accomplishments that are embedded with his Italian family traditions and devotion to his beloved city and community.