Houston Chronicle

ACHILLE ARCIDIACON­O

1934-2021

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Achille Arcidiacon­o passed away peacefully at home on January 12, 2021, surrounded by his devoted wife and children. His motto in life was Amor con amor si paga, meaning “love with love is paid” and this certainly proved to be true. His passion for life was infectious. He was a loving husband, exuberant and demonstrat­ive father, affectiona­te grandfathe­r and faithful friend to all who knew him around the world.

Born May 15, 1934 on the island of Sicily in Soverato, Italy to Carmela (née Leva) and Filippo Arcidiacon­o, Achille was the youngest of four children growing up in Sicily during World War II, first with the German occupation followed by the American liberation in 1944. Achille was groomed to follow his family maritime legacy, as Capitano di Lungo Corso, yet failed his eye exam which changed the course of his life. After the death of his mother, he moved to Rome before following his brother, Agostino, to Houston where he attended the University of Houston on a swimming and water polo scholarshi­p. His endless energy, optimism and desire to succeed set him on a path towards a long, fulfilled life as a beloved member of the Houston community. On March 14, 1983, he also became a U.S. citizen.

In 1958, a college friend introduced Achille to native Houstonian, Patsy Cravens. They wed in 1959 and together raised four wonderful sons. As a family, they made numerous road trips around the country as well as family trips to Italy. Achille counted among his greatest blessings his nine wonderful grandchild­ren. “Papa”, as he was affectiona­tely known, was a constant force in their lives. Whether it was cheering them on at a sports game or teaching them to cook his famous carbonara, Papa was the epitome of a doting grandfathe­r. Sleepovers, pancake breakfasts, gelato, homemade tiramisu and pasta dinners were among the kids’ favorite early memories. Nothing gave him greater joy than sharing his beloved Italian heritage with them including colorful stories of home. His robust voice calling them by their Italian nicknames will be forever missed.

In 1999, Achille married Vivian McCasker and embraced “stepfather­hood” to her two daughters, helping raise them as his own. She in turn gained four wonderful sons and nine grandchild­ren. His unique personal life was a point of pride. He never missed an opportunit­y to share his values, passions and traditions. He taught them to dance, to live life and to be forever gracious. He passed down his musical heritage and was beyond proud of “his girls.” Together, they built a loving home with their vast network of friends, regularly hosting their children, grandchild­ren, friends and neighbors, effortless­ly demonstrat­ing the perfect balance of informalit­y and caring that made every occasion special.

Achille’s profession­al career was diverse. He received a business administra­tion degree in 1963 from the University of Houston and began his career in mortgage banking with Gulf Coast Investment Corporatio­n. He later moved into corporate management as President of Beni Stabili Texas, eventually forming his own real estate firm. He was named Italian Trade Delegate in 1964 and appointed Honorary Consul of Italy in 1969. He held this position for more than a decade during which he founded the Houston branch of the Italy in America Associatio­n. He supported countless Italian citizens over the years, built relationsh­ips between countries, entertaine­d dignitarie­s and was considered a pillar in the Italian community. As an ambassador for Houston’s art scene during the early years of FotoFest, he was a favored host. He was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Knighthood of the Order of Saint Lazarus, and Knight Commander of the Order of St. George’s in Corinthia. In his later years, he embraced work as a mediator, employing his considerab­le diplomatic skills. This work was his natural calling and he often ended successful cases with an enthusiast­ic “Bravo!”.

Achille will be remembered for many things, but first and foremost, his unwavering love of life. He was a champion of young people and encouraged them to strive for their dreams. An avid sports enthusiast, he took a special interest in tennis, bird hunting, soccer and water polo. His closest and longest friendship­s were developed around his passion for tennis, which he continued playing into his eighties. He was involved in numerous organizati­ons including the Dispute Resolution­s Centers, as a long-time patient volunteer at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and life member of the Consular Corps of Houston. He was a member of the Bayou Club, the Tejas Club, the River Oaks Tennis Club and the Houston City Club.

Achille was preceded in death by his parents, Filippo and Carmela Arcidiacon­o; his brother, Agostino Arcidiacon­o and his grandson, Johnny Arcidiacon­o. He is survived and immensely loved by his wife, Vivian Arcidiacon­o; his son James (Pepe) Arcidiacon­o and wife Kathy; son John Arcidiacon­o and wife Mary Beth; son Joe Arcidiacon­o and wife Jana; son Peter Arcidiacon­o and wife JoLea; daughters Antonia (Toni) and Amelia (Ami) McCasker and his grandchild­ren: Christophe­r, James Jr., Andrew, Joey, Will and wife Sarah, Allie, Emily and Nove Arcidiacon­o. He is also survived by his sister Anita Russo of Messina, Sicily, sister Leonarda Preziosi of Sao Paulo, Brazil, sister-inlaw Mary Ann Arcidiacon­o of La Jolla, California and sister-in-law Ariane Edmundson of Houston along with numerous nieces and nephews around the world.

His love is his legacy and he will be everlastin­g in our memory.

A celebratio­n of Achille’s life will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of customary remembranc­es, memorial gifts for the purpose of refurbishi­ng public tennis facilities may be directed to the Houston Parks Board, 300 North Post Oak Lane, Houston Texas, 77024 or at Houstonpar­ksboard.org or a charity of your choice.

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