September 7, 1953 – June 30, 2023
In Loving Memory ~
It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my dear brother and friend, Rocco on June 30, 2023 at KBRH with his devoted and loving sister Maria and close family friend, Cathy by his side.
Rocco was born in Accadia, Foggia, Italy on September 7, 1953 to Alessandro and Leonarda Bonito. In 1956, his father decided to leave Italy and immigrate to Canada to try make a better life for his family in Trail, BC.
In November 1957, Rocco and his mother also set out to Canada to join his father. From the age of 4-8 years old, Rocco and his parents lived in a little Italian community in Trail called “the Gulch” until his family bought their home in East Trail in 1961. That year, his Nonno Luigi and Nonna Emanuela De Bellis, his mother’s parents, also immigrated from Italy to Canada to be with their daughter and to help her raise their family.
In 1962, Rocco and his family welcomed his little sister Maria. Even though there was a 9 year age difference between them, they always had a very tight bond and were extremely close. He attended St. Michael’s Catholic School during his elementary years. From a child, to an adult, Rocco was very inquisitive, needed to know and understand how things worked so he always had many projects on the go. He would take things apart to see how they operated and then put them back together.
Rocco had a very curious imagination and he loved to invent and create things. Many of his adolescent and adult years, he worked on numerous projects with his father, who was a Finish Carpenter. Rocco was very interested in wood working and he helped his father to renovate their family home and he learned to create many handcrafted, beautiful pieces of furniture. Along with his love for wood working, his true, lifetime passion was music and playing his guitar. He was a self taught and gifted musician starting from the age of 10 years old and he mastered the art of playing the guitar very quickly. He excelled to be a very talented, skilled and accomplished guitarist.
He graduated from J.L. Crowe Secondary School in 1971 and right after graduation, he left Trail and ventured out to Fort Erie, ON to live with his cousins, the D’Amelio’s. In 1973-1976, he attended Niagara College of Applied Arts & Technology and received 2 degrees. One degree in the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management and the other in Beverage and Business Management.
While attending College, he worked many jobs including working in his Uncle Gerry’s mechanic shop. After his schooling, he set out to Calgary, AB for a few years, working in the Hospitality Industry and also joined the FairFax Vacuum Company. At FairFax, he was named top vacuum sales person in Western Calgary.
In the late 70s, Rocco then headed back to BC to continue his work in the Hospitality Industry starting in Whistler, BC when Whistler was still just a speck on the map. He was employed mostly in managerial positions and as head bartender in different establishments in Whistler. He had tremendous people skills and excelled at all his jobs. He was a very independent person but worked extremely well with others, showing many of the new employees the tricks of the trade.
While working in Whistler one evening, he served Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and he then asked Rocco to spend the day with his wife Margaret and their 3 sons, skiing and touring Whistler which was an experience that he spoke of frequently.
In 1986, he moved to Vancouver, BC and he worked at EXPO 86 in the main night club called “86 Street Music Hall” as a head bartender and manager. Rocco had a very friendly nature, was easy to talk to and to strike up a conversation with. He made friends quickly and he was lucky to have met and become friends with some of the members of upcoming top 80s bands such as Bon Jovi, Santana, Loverboy, Journey, Kiss and Bryan Adams just to name a few.
After EXPO 86, Rocco was offered the opportunity to go to Seville, Spain in 1992 to work at Seville EXPO ’92. That’s when his travelling bug really began. He fell in love with Spain and returned there to visit in the years to follow. One of his bucket list dreams was to one day move to Spain where he longed to be.
Rocco’s love for travel was very strong and he worked, travelled and lived in many places around the world such as BC, AB, California, Mexico, Spain, Italy and the UK. In 1994, he went to San Antonio, Texas and trained in his friend’s ice cream shop called Justin’s Ice Cream Company. He learned the skills of being a barista and the trade of making authentic Italian Gelato. Opening up his own coffee house/bistro shop was another one of his aspirations. He was blessed with genuine, long lasting friendships, formed very strong bonds and true connections in his life time and many were made during his travels.
In 1997, Rocco moved back to Vancouver and worked on movie sets as a Prop Master and he also worked in construction. And of course, like his mamma, he was an amazing cook and truly found joy in sharing his food creations with his friends and family. Rocco was kind, giving, generous, unselfish, caring, a very strong willed person and lived his life to it’s fullest the way that he wanted to right up until his passing.
He played guitar and sang in numerous bands which included “Foot in the Door”, “Skunk Cabbage” and “Chequered Past”. In 2007, he moved back Trail to live with his mother, helping her to maintain their family home until she went into a care home in 2018. He remained his home until his passing.
Rocco was predeceased by his father Alessandro Bonito and his Nonna Emanuela De Bellis in 1980, his Nonno Luigi De Bellis in 1991, his brother-in-law Shawn Whitehead in 2013, his mother Leonarda Bonito in 2018, countless relatives and in the last few years, some very close and dear friends.
Rocco is survived by his only sibling, Maria Bonito who supported and cared for him and stuck by his side always. Also, his cousins the D’Amelio family in Ontario, the Palazzo family in Accadia, Foggia, Italy, and the Ziccarelli family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
I would like to thank the EMTs, the Emergency Room team and the nurses and doctors at KBRH for all of the extra special care that they gave Rocco during his hospital stays. Also, to his care team Simon and Brenda for their devotion and support and to Dr. Mike Van Vliet for his compassion and dedication that he gave Rocco for many years.
To the Trail Safeway Pharmacy staff for their patience, kindness and understanding towards Rocco and to the Home Support staff for their care. Lastly, to Marianne and Joanna and the ladies at Holy Trinity Parish for all of their help during Rocco’s memorial service reception.
Kole Roth of Clark’s Funeral Services was entrusted with the arrangements. Cremation has taken place and a memorial service was held on July 13th, 2023 with celebrant Father Maurice Okolie. Rocco’s final resting place is at Mountain View Cemetery in Rossland, BC with his family.
As an expression of sympathy, donations can be made to the BC SPCA West Kootenay, 124 Heritage Way, Castlegar, BC V1N 4M5 or online at www.spca.bc.ca or to the KBRH Health Foundation at 1200 Hospital Bench, Trail, BC V1R 4M1 or online at www.kbrhhealthfoundation.ca
Rocco left this world fighting right up until the end. He touched the lives and hearts of many people during his lifetime. He will always be fondly remembered by all of those who knew him. Rocco will be deeply missed by all of those fortunate enough to have known him, especially his sister Maria.
You are invited to leave a personal message of condolence at the family’s online register at www.clarksfuneral.ca
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