Friends of the late William (Bill) Joseph Ciriello, Sr., 94, of Beech Grove knew right away when you were his friend.
With appreciation, he would tell you: “Thank you for being my friend.”
Ciriello passed away Thursday, Sept. 14, one day after this year’s Beech Grove Promoters Club Fall Festival began on Main Street and significantly two days before the annual festival parade, also on Main Street. Ciriello and his famed black 1959 Cadillac El Dorado convertible were an annual staple of the parade for years.
Saturday, Ciriello was honored during the parade. Club member John Gillespie drove his Camaro convertible with a black wreath near the front of the parade with a Ciriello Plumbing truck following behind. Ciriello founded the company in July 1952, a few years after settling in Beech Grove. Then at the reviewing area in front of the Beech Grove branch library, Taps was played in honor of his military career in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Fittingly, Ciriello himself played Taps many times on a trumpet that was among his WWII artifacts at memorials. During WWII, he played Reveille each morning while stationed on the USS Dayton light cruiser.
“I’m a proud veteran,” Ciriello would say.
In his later years, he continued mingling with friends and other WWII veterans often on Monday evenings at Mikie’s Pub where the Southside’s own singer/entertainer Steve Jeffris would honor all veterans during his performances. And he enjoyed many breakfasts with Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley.
An early civic advocate, he joined the Beech Grove Exchange Club and later founded the Beech Grove Promoters Club in 1953 so that collected funds would go directly to needy groups and organizations. The club also promotes the Fourth of July fireworks at Sarah T. Bolton Park.
Ciriello is best described as a father, grandfather, great-grandfather, World War II veteran, a self-made business owner, and community advocate.
He was born May 17,1929 to the late Tony and Lola Ciriello in Rochester, Pa. He married Betty Jo Baker and they settled in Beech Grove. They were married for 72 years before her death. He is survived by four children, seven grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, and eight great-great grandchildren.
His funeral service is at 11 a.m. today (Wednesday) at G.H. Herrmann Funeral Home, The Gardens at Olive Branch in Greenwood with burial in Forest Lawn Memory Gardens, Greenwood.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Beech Grove Promoters Club or Indy Honor Flight.
(JOHN GILLESPIE PHOTO)