Don and Eleanor Quaglia of Herrin have been named Grand Parade Marshals for HerrinFesta Italiana 2014. They will lead the Grand Festa Parade May 24 through downtown Herrin and be honored at various events May 19-26.
The couple are known for their dedication to the organizations they serve, their attention to detail in both professional and community activities and their great modesty. Eleanor is a 1955 graduate of Herrin High School and attended Southern Illinois University. Her parents Charles and Estella Scerena raised their family of four children, Eugenia Hutchison, Romilda Hundley,Wendell Scerena and Eleanor in Herrin. Her siblings and parents are deceased. She worked for Marlow Enterprises in the Ly-Mar Hotel for manager Connie Moss. The company managed The Ly Mar Hotel which included the Gold Room, a restaurant and a small bar. John Marlow and John Guetgemann managed Marlow’s Theater, The Rivera Drive Inn, The Annex Theater and White City Park.
Before they met the couple both worked for the Marlow family. In high school he was an usher at the Marlow’s and Annex Theaters in Herrin, along with friends Richard Pisoni and Donald Lualdi.
Don’s parents, Louis and Pauline Comerio Quaglia, had three children, a daughter, Gloria who died in infancy, Ed Quaglia, the late Mayor of the City of Herrin and Don. His aunts and uncle include Comerio Bakery owners, Mike and Clara Comerio, Mary Comerio Marlow and Louisa Comerio Miramonti.
Don is a 1950 graduate of Herrin High School, a veteran of the Korean War. He served in the U. S. Navy as a radio dispatcher in the Pacific arena from 1951-1954. He remembers his first train ride to boot camp in San Francisco, and he remembers hitchhiking back home on leave which was a lot slower than his train ride. After his honorable discharge he spent two years at Southern Illinois University.
The couple met at Moroni Drugs in downtown Herrin when Eleanor waited on him at the soda fountain in the drugstore. She smiles when she says he came in almost every night to buy a soda or cup of coffee. That led to dates, dinners and movies. They were married November 24, 1956 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church.
He would eventually open Quaglia Construction Company. He credits his career to his classes at Herrin High School with instructor Bergen DeWees in vocational woodshop. He first worked for Bob Ferrari, Bob Waldron and Knute Aarson, some of the premier construction families in Herrin in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Their new company was a family affair as Eleanor stepped up and became the bookkeeper and business agent for Don and she was able to be at home with their children. She spent the last years of her working career in the Bookkeeping Department at the Bank of Herrin and retired in 2001.
He joined Fager–McGee Commercial Construction in Murphysboro as a Superintendent in 1990. The company offers full services for General Contracting, Design/Build and Construction Management projects for all commercial clients. He retired in 1997.
The couple spends many hours as volunteers with the Herrin Hospital Auxiliary. She works in the Gift Garden and he is a runner. They both volunteer for The House of Hope to provide daily lunches to the needy. They are members of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church where he is an usher. He served two-terms as President of the Herrin Park District when the Herrin Swimming Pool was built. He was a board member on the Herrin Civic Center Authority Board, and a charter member of the Herrin Public Building Commission. She is a past member of The Herrin Junior Women’s Club and is a member and past officer of the Daughters of Mary at OLMC.
They are longtime HerrinFesta volunteers and worked in the Festa Gift Shop, Festa Golf Tournament and Don worked as a judge at the annual Festa Bocce tournaments.
They have three children, David and Linda Quaglia, Herrin, Lisa and Todd Spezia, Danville, and Amy and Mark Holloway, Springfield, 5 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Gene and Nancy Eisenhauer, managers of the Festa Gift Shop, praise the couple, “He is a highly skilled craftsman and artisan. He did marvelous work on our older home. He is a perfectionist. Eleanor is a quiet beautiful soul who would help anyone in any way she can.”
Friends and family kept the Quaglias in Herrin. Eleanor says, “Herrin is my home and my life. My family is still here. I feel their presence when I visit them at our cemetery.” Don says, “Our old and new friends make our life happy and fulfilling. Herrin has been good to us. It just wouldn’t be the same anywhere else.”
Cris Trapani, HerrinFesta Presidents says of their selection “They have achieved much and raised their children to be participating and contributing members of society. They are a quiet couple with great reserve about their accomplishments. They have earned the respect of their community. HerrinFesta is pleased to have them as Grand Parade Marshals for 2014. We know they will represent us well.”