Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Wooster Square Tour

D’Onofrio’s Funeral Home

541 Chapel Street

(former)

D’Onofrio’s Funeral Home, c. 1940s–1950s. Courtesy Benedetto Minichino.

Michael D’Onofrio (1909–1992) graduated from Hillhouse High School and went on to Providence College with an eye on studying medicine hoping to become a doctor. His siblings pooled their money to send him to medical school but somehow he was side-tracked from this dream and instead attended The McAllister School of Embalming. In the mid to late thirties he met and married Florence LaBate of William Street, daughter of Liborio, (of Mistretta, Sicily) and Marietta Cianciulli (of Naples).

They had four children and during the early forties they purchased two buildings on Chapel Street from prominent Wooster Sq. neighborhood business man Paul Russo. Michael, his brothers and friends converted the building on the corner of Wooster Place from a bank into The D’Onofrio Funeral Home. The second building, a six-family residence was located directly next door. He did not want to purchase this building but Mr. Russo would not sell unless he purchased both. Over the years Michael became thankful for the six-family residence because its income helped during the lean days. For the next ten-plus years Michael and Florence worked side by side building a successful business and becoming pillars of the community. In 1976 Michael sold the funeral home along with the buildings and retired.

  • Text source courtesy Benedetto Minichino.

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