Donations are gratefully accepted in honour of Tony Battaglia - a real friend of the arts in Toronto.
Tony Battaglia - A Life Well-Lived (1948-2018)
Antonio, (Tony) Battaglia passed away Monday evening, March 5th in Florida after a splendid evening and meal with his loved ones. Tony — a man devoted to his family and fine food would probably have deemed this somehow appropriate.
In 1952 Tony, immigrated together with his parents, Franco and Francesca Battaglia to Canada from Gagliato, Italy. He was four years old. He grew up on Euclid Avenue just across the road from the forever love of his life — Maria Giuseppa, Josie, (Pina) Vellone. In 1959 his twin sisters Mary and Nikki were born after which when “Bates” wasn’t shooting the breeze with his Euclid cronies he was likely changing diapers. Growing up, Tony’s friends were soon pursuing the commerce and trades common to the immigrant diaspora. But Tony was an aspiring artist and in 1964-1967 attended Central Technical Art Centre to foster his passion for design.
To all who knew him, Tony was a force of nature. He was one of those rare individuals who brought a contagious enthusiasm and energy to everything he did. From preparing simple food to haute cuisine, from design to creating television ads, from entertaining to generally taking care of everyone around him — there were no half measures with Tony. No detail was too small; if it was worth doing, it was worth doing right, and everything Tony did, he did well.
In 1971 Tony’s friends dared him to ask Pina out on a date; what they didn’t know was that Tony already had plans for his beloved Pina. They married August 1973. Already her “Tony Mio,” had become more than a loyal and committed son-in-law to her parents Salvatore & Vittoria and big brother to Josie’s brothers, Angelo and Joe and to sister Anna, who had looked up to Tony as a mentor since the late 1960s. Throughout their marriage, Tony and Josie were two hearts, two minds and two souls melded in but one very deep love, sustained by their respect and joy for each other. And as they travelled to their favorite places like Forte dei Marmi, Italy, and Paris, it was not uncommon that they shared their time, joining friends and family they would arrange to meet up with, often with Josie’s sister Anna as their travelling companion.
Both a leader and collaborator, the first of his many partnerships was with Terry Durkin and Keith Rodgers. In 1979 they formed the advertising agency Durkin Rodgers Battaglia in Toronto. Through four incarnations — Freeman Rogers Battaglia, LBJ Freeman Rogers Battaglia and Allard Johnson — it morphed eventually into KBS+P, one of Canada’s largest. Tony’s exploits over this time included not only helping create the Milk Calendar but developing it into an Annual publication, managing it for over 35 years. There was Canada’s Food Guide, and countless award-winning TV campaigns. And Tony did it all his way, for many years, hanging out in meetings, with his posse of loyal buddies — and many, many more of the collaborators. That was Tony — a man who knew how to combine the hard work of creating, and what seemed like managing too many projects, and all the while having fun, forever loving his family, friends and relatives, and all he would meet on his journey.
Recently retired from the Advertising industry, Tony focused his passion of architecture directing numerous renovations of Toronto’s historic homes.
In Tony’s life, there was no joy greater than being an uncle to nephews Elio Taddeo and Julian Taddeo-Bandi; niece Bianca Hanson Vellone who was especially dear to his heart; Spencer and Thomas Fox; and later his grand-niece Alessia Taddeo. He took to being an uncle very seriously, he loved them, he always made time for them, and they will tell you, Uncle Tony was a marshmallow in their hands.
Tony was an accomplished storyteller and blessed with more than his share of wit. However, he was more than anything else an extraordinary listener. When he looked at you, with that beard and that hair, and those penetrating brown eyes you felt as if you were the centre of the universe and that anything was possible. From Euclid Avenue to the Kingsway, from Delray Beach, Florida to Georgian Bay, Ontario Tony had a lasting impact on people and places wherever he went. Who doesn’t have a Tony Battaglia story? A man who forever chose to see the good in people, to draw it out with his joy and belief in all of us, Antonio imprinted so many with his generosity, his warmth, his energy and forever with his spirit. We are all so saddened and shocked by his passing, but truly we are all so much richer for having known him, for his sharing of his life well lived.
Antonio (Tony) leaves behind his beloved wife, Josephine (Pina) Battaglia, née Vellone; his dear family: his mother, Francesca Battaglia; sister Nikki Taddeo and brother-in-law Jason Bandi, nephews Julian Taddeo Bandi and Elio Taddeo, and grandniece Alessia Taddeo; and sister Mary Battaglia; and his precious in-laws the Vellone family: his mother-in-law, ‘Signora’ Vittoria Vellone; brother-in-law Angelo (and Tina) Vellone; sister-in-law, Anna Vellone; and brother-in-law Joe Vellone (and Pat Hanson), Pat’s sons, Spencer and Thomas Fox and beloved niece, Bianca Vittoria Hanson Vellone.