Rena Vici (nee Zampa), 94, formerly of Chicago passed away at home in Aurora on March 9, 2013. Rena was born October 3, 1918 to Italian immigrants, Sante (Sam) and Giulia (Albonetti) Zampa. At the age of 2, the family moved to Senigallia, Italy. A few years later, Sam and Giulia returned to America for work opportunities leaving Rena in Italy in the care of her two sets of grandparents who were farmers. In 1930, Rena’s parents sent for her and she traveled by boat to America accompanied by a female chaperone from her town. Upon landing in New York, they boarded a train to Chicago where Rena was reunited with her parents and her new little brother, Bruno. Rena’s first reaction to Chicago was of wonderment and bewilderment of why the police were called the “thumb” since the English word “police” is similar to the Italian word “pollice” meaning thumb. With that, Rena’s adventure in learning English and living in America began. Many days after school, Rena would help in her mother’s tailor shop while her father worked as a factory foreman. In high school, Rena excelled in Art and won a contest that enabled her to take classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduation, Rena continued working in the tailor shop designing and sewing clothes for herself and customers. She was planning to make that her career, but World War II broke out. Rena found herself, along with many other women, employed at a Chicago factory working in various positions previously held by men who were serving in the Armed Forces. After the war, Rena traveled to Italy with her mother, Giulia, to reconnect with family. The trip was a fateful one for Rena when a childhood playmate, Vasco Vici, came by to pay his respects. She remembered him as the pest from next door who always climbed into her grandfathers’ trees to steal fruit. Now, he was all grown up and very handsome. Rena and Vasco began dating and after a short time, they married in a civil ceremony in Macerata, Italy. Upon her return to Chicago, Rena filed the paperwork necessary to send for her husband and on December 17, 1948, they celebrated their marriage with a formal church wedding in Chicago. Together they opened and operated “La Bottega” Italian import store originally located at 3640 W. Chicago Avenue in the Our Lady of the Angels parish on the Westside of Chicago. After Vasco’s passing in 1960, Rena continued operating the store with her business partner and best friend, Josephine Fioravanti. Later, they moved the store to 3222 North Harlem Avenue in Chicago. In 1988, Rena and Josephine sold the store, and Rena retired. In her retirement, Rena was kept very busy by her 2 daughters, 3 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, and her circle of girlfriends.
Rena was preceded in death by her parents, her brother and her husband. She is survived by her daughters, Giuliana (Paul) Eggert of Aurora, and Marzia (Joe) Hederman of Barrington. Her grandchildren, Julia (Mick) Miller of Earlville, William Eggert of Iowa City, Iowa, Nicole Murillo of Chicago, her great-granddaughters, Bailey and Danika Miller and her sisters-in-law, Margaret Zampa of Gowrie, Iowa, and Velia (Vici) Cingolani of Macerata, Italy. The Dieterle Memorial Home, Montgomery, Illinois, will hold Rena’s visitation from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 as well as the service celebrating Rena’s life on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. Rena will be laid to rest next to her husband at Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, Illinois.