A Wreath For Ernesto: A Christmas Tribute To A Historic Figure In Delaware

The DiSabatino mausoleum

This morning I laid a wreath at the crypt that houses the body of Ernesto DiSabatino, my great-grandfather and founder of a community.  As I sat quietly in prayer and thought, I was struck at what lay in front of me.  A stone building and a wreath.  Together they were suddenly symbolic of Ernesto’s gifts of building, compassion and community.


Ernesto standing in front of St. Anthony's church during construction. Ernesto led hundreds of volunteers to create this iconic structure.

Ernesto built great structures and therefore the setting was appropriate.  The crypt is elegant in its architectural simplicity.  It is made of stone, the hallmark material used by Ernesto in the construction of St. Anthony’s church, St. Thomas’ Church and many other icons.  Rev. Roberto Balducelli, O.S.F.S., coined the phrase,  “malattia della pietra,” or “disease of the stone,” to illustrate Ernesto’s passion for building.  Building of buildings, building of lives and the building of community.  And build he did, passing on this three-pointed legacy to countless friends, hundreds of descendants and thousands of employees spanning generations.


Dominick "Cue Ball" Albano is symbolic of those who benefitted from the generosity of Ernesto DiSabatino.

Ernesto built lives.  At my grandfather’s funeral, a little old Italian man by the name of Dominick “Cue Ball” Albano grabbed me.  (He was aptly named Cue Ball because of his beautifully shaped head!)  Since my grandfather was being laid to rest in the same crypt, Cue Ball was reminiscing about when Ernesto died in 1932.  Around that time, Cue Ball had noticed a group of men, including my grandfather, using their hands to construct the beautiful stone structure that would become the final resting place of Ernesto, his sons and their spouses.  Speaking only Italian, Cue Ball asked if they needed help.  Understanding the plight of the Italian immigrant, my grandfather, in the tradition of Ernesto, stretched out his hand and never let go.  For the next 60+ years, Cue Ball would be a member of our family as a carpenter, supervisor, retiree and friend.  And he became symbolic of Ernesto’s never ending tradition to outstretch one’s hands for the advancement of another.


The West End Neighborhood house was where Ernesto's family and thousands of Italian Immigrants became assimilated to Delaware

Ernesto built community. His family learned to speak English because of the generosity of members of the community that arrived before him.  His family put food on the table because people were kind and trusting of his skills.  With this in mind, Ernesto built community by giving back throughout his life.  And his legacy lives on in the decoration on his grave. What a better representation than the simple wreath on the doors. Two wonderful women, born nearly a century apart from Ernesto, made the wreath and share his spirit.  They work in the business he built and constructed the ornament of greens, pine cones and a bow as a means to raise money for a worthy charity.  One wreath at a time, they are bringing dignity to a world that is too often cold and lonely.


During this holiest of seasons, take the time to reflect on the gifts given to us from generations prior and our obligation to do the same, regardless of your standing or struggle.


Merry Christmas Ernesto.

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About the Contributor

Brian DiSabatino

Brian DiSabatino

Brian DiSabatino is President of EDiS Company, a family owned construction company founded in 1908. In addition to family, Brian has a love for business, community, fishing and food.


  • Thanks for including my grandfather in your tribute to your great grandfather.  Cue Ball loved your family and working for EDiS.  I will pass along your article to my family.  They will be thrilled.

    Karen Griffith

    • Karen, thanks a million for taking the time to write.  Your grandfather mentored me and dozens of others here.  We are eternally grateful.  I still carry a $2 bill he gave me 30 years ago!

  • Brian, although we may never have met, I spent many a day driving with my grandfather to “the yard” off 4th and Greenhill Ave. when I was a very young boy to pick something up he needed for a job he was doing.  And later, after he retired and would stop in the office to say hello! 

    I grew up living next door to my grandparents, Dominick and Clara Albano, on Rodman Street, and  I also remember how honored they were each holiday when Mr. Paul DiSabatino stopped by to visit, for some homemade eggnog and cookies.

    Glad to hear you still have one of the original $2 Bills he use to give out….somehow I only held onto a $3 Bill he gave me with Bill Clinton’s picture on it!  Let me know if you want to trade.

    Thank you for sharing a part of your family’s legacy, as well as ours.

    “Buon Natale”
    Dominick A. Albano 11 

  • Brian, thanks for the kind words about our grandfather.  He always held your family and EDiS in the highest regard.
    Charles Albano

  • You know, I feel like I’ve wondered for years what the nickname “Cue Ball” meant for our great grandfather and to read that it came from that Albano dome of his really puts a nice stamp on his legacy!

    Thank you for sharing!

    – David McElwee

    • David:  Your great grandfather was a great man and mentor.  You know, now that I think of it, I never considered that maybe he was a good billiards player!

  • Brian,  Thank you for remembering my Dad.  You know that when I was growing up I always thought of your Grandparents
    as part of our family.  We always called them Aunt and Uncle.  Dad loved being a part of DISabs.Thank you again.                 
                                             Rose Marie Albano Smith

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