Frances Suraci White
continued White started out in an auxiliary in Schenectady, but in 1947, two gentlemen from the Sons of Italy said they were interested in having a “ladies lodge.” White and her friend ended up helping organize the new lodge. The Sons of Italy formerly didn’t integrate male and female lodges.
“I got more involved than she did, because she was married at the time and I was single,” she said.
In 1948, she helped establish the Cornelia Lodge and White became the first president of the lodge. She held that position for two years. In 1982, the Cornelia Lodge merged with the Gabriele D’Annunzio Lodge, which marked the lodges becoming one coed group.
She is the longest active member of the lodge — but quick to point out not the oldest — but she said being honored at the dinner came as a complete surprise. She didn’t even know until she received the lodge’s formal newsletter.
“I really was surprised, because nobody called me or told me that I was going to be on it, but then all of a sudden I got the newsletter from the lodge and it says there is going to be a Columbus Day Dinner and it is going to be honoring me,” she said. “I looked at it twice and I said, ‘Are they kidding me?’ I felt humbled, because I never expected that.”
Over the years she said the organization has “changed an awful lot.” She said the lodge used to have monthly “dinner dances” with live music. She also served as the first female president of the merged lodge in 1989. Then she moved on to become a state trustee for the Sons of Italy and she also has been a part of the Scholarship Committee.
“[The Scholarship Committee] was interesting, because you get all applications for students in District 6, but then we meet with the eight districts in the state … and would go over all the applications and as a group give out the scholarships,” she said. “I got to know a lot about how scholarships work and how it pertains to the students.”