|Birth: ||Jun. 11, 1922|
|Death: ||Jun. 28, 2008|
Ross Gangemi died from leukemia, aged 86, in Coburg's John Fawkner Hospital.
To Italian police he was an Australian mafia boss and the man behind an underworld hit 45 years ago.
But to his family, Rosario "Ross" Gangemi, who died a week ago, was "a hero in our eyes".
The underworld figure and industrial negotiator Dominic "Mick" Gatto was among about 400 mourners who packed St Monica's Catholic Church in Moonee Ponds, Victoria, yesterday to to pay tribute to Gangemi, 86, who died after a month-long battle with leukaemia.
He was reportedly named in a confidential 1991 Victoria Police report as one of the top 10 mafia figures in the state.
Since his death, his alleged links to Melbourne's Benvenuto family, which once ran the criminal rackets that flourished at the city's fruit and vegetable market, have been revealed.
Frank Benvenuto, son of the former "Godfather" Liborio Benvenuto, was one of about 30 victims of Melbourne's recent underworld war.
Australian police believe Gangemi was instrumental in extortion at the markets, and Italian police implicated him in the murder of the Melbourne underworld figure Vincenzo Angilletta in 1963.
But Gangemi's son Nicholas yesterday described his father as a "selfless person who always put others before him".
"He was a gentleman among gentlemen, a friend among friends and a leader among leaders," he told the gathering.
"He was a man with real values and real morals … The number of people present here today is a sign of the respect he has got and the amount of good he has done."
Born in Calabria in 1922, Gangemi was the eldest of three sons and, at the age of 15, was left the head of the family when his father died.
"He began travelling from village to village on horseback," his son said.
"Most times it was in the middle of the night through rugged mountains to provide essential goods such as oil and flour. At the age of 19 he was drafted into the army and served his country in the Second World War for four years, during which time he was a prisoner at a German concentration camp for two years."
On May 14, 1951, Gangemi emigrated to Australia on the SS Sebastiano Caboto. He returned to Italy to have one of his kidneys removed before settling back in Australia in 1959.
He endured several tragedies throughout his life - the death of his first wife, and Maria, his daughter to his second wife.
"He was a man who touched thousands of people," his son said.
His granddaughter, Amanda, described him as "a hero in our eyes, a man like no other".
"He was just like a willow tree; resilient and strong."
During the Requiem Mass a photograph of Gangemi sat in front of his extravagant casket, which had on it an elaborate arrangement of white roses and lilies.
Gangemi's large family left in three black limousines for Keilor Mausoleum, where he was entombed.
He leaves behind his second wife Pasqualina, sons Sam, Nicholas and Joe.
By Andrea Petrie, July 8, 2008, Brisbane Times
In a city that has lately had its share of gaudy, gold-chain and dark-glasses underworld funerals, this was far more discreet.
And a lot bigger.
The funeral of Rosario "Ross" Gangemi would probably have looked, and sounded, much the same if it had been held in his birthplace in Calabria, Italy, rather than in Moonee Ponds.
More than 250 mourners attended the service on Monday, among them the high profile industrial negotiator and gangland figure Mick Gatto.
Many of the congregation that packed St Monica's Catholic Church had also been seen at funerals well known to viewers of the Underbelly television series.
But on Monday, their shirt buttons were done up to the neck, ties were neatly in place and proper homage was shown for a man who had almost no public profile, but who commanded plenty of quiet respect.
A steady stream of limousines delivered those who remain of the generations of Italians who did their business, whatever it was, without ostentation.
Small men in cashmere overcoats over dark suits kissed cheeks as they arrived and moved into the church, the most senior taking the reserved seats nearest the front.
Gangemi was one of the most influential members of the Calabrian Mafia - the 'Ndrangheta - in Victoria.
Since his death, his links to Melbourne's Benvenuto family which once ran the criminal rackets that flourished at the city's fruit and vegetable market, have been revealed.
Frank Benvenuto, son of the former "Godfather" Liborio Benvenuto, was one of the 20-plus victims of Melbourne's recent underworld murder spree.
Australian police believe Gangemi was instrumental in extortion at the markets and Italian police implicated him in the 1963 murder of Melbourne underworld figure Vincenzo Angilletta.
Gangemi died of natural causes in a Melbourne hospital last Saturday week.
He was 86.
By Mike Hedge, July 7, 2008
Ross Gangemi was a lose associate of Liborio Benvenuto. Police allege Gangemi was involved in an extortion racket at the Melbourne wholesale fruit and vegetable market for more than 25 years.
"Rosario Gangemi is considered a senior member of the Benvenuto crime family, frequently nominated by informers as a leading contender for leadership of that crime family following the death of Benvenuto," said one intelligence document.
Gangemi served alongside Benvenuto from the 1960s to the 1980s, possibly as his deputy.
He was named by Italian police as ordering one of the market murders.
Among the international experts brought to Victoria to help investigate the killings was Italian police assistant commissioner Dr Ugo Macera.
He produced a still-secret report implicating Gangemi in the death of Angilletta.
The Macera Report, which has been seen by the Herald Sun, said: "Vincenzo Angilletta's murder is the classic example of a killing decided by the mafia."
Canberra mafia cell boss Pasquale "Il Principale" Barbaro, who became a police informer in 1989 and was murdered the following year, was secretly taped by detectives naming Gangemi as one of Melbourne's Calabrian mafia bosses.
A confidential 1991 Victoria Police report named Gangemi as one of the top 10 mafiosi in the state.
That same year, the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence identified Gangemi as one of the top 30 Italian organised crime bosses in the country.
Police intelligence files show he remained a respected and influential member until his death.
On June 28, 2008, Gangemi died of natural causes, aged 86, in Coburg's John Fawkner Hospital.
His death enabled the Herald Sun to finally reveal Gangemi's high standing in the mafia.
The Honoured Society was a Calabrian 'Ndrangheta criminal group that operated in Melbourne, Australia. In 1963, it was reportedly involved in the Victoria Market Murders. It was led by gangster Frank Benvenuto until his slaying in 2000. Tony Romeo, another high-ranking member, was shot in 2002.
Pasquale "Il Principale" Barbaro, a Canberra mafia boss-turned police informant named Rosario 'Ross' Gangemi as the "de facto" head of the Honoured Society. Gangemi, an old school soldier was himself named by the Italian police of ordering the infamous Victoria Market Murders campaign in the mid-60's then under the orders of Liborio Benvenuto, Frank Benvenuto's father. When Liborio Benvenuto knew he was close to death he nominated Giuseppe "Joe" Arena to succeed him as Melbourne godfather. Arena, who was 50, was himself shot dead by a rival faction six weeks after Benvenuto died in 1988. Michele Scriva, another Gangemi associate, committed Melbourne's first mafia hit, stabbing Giuseppe "Fat Joe" Versace 91 times in 1945. He later served years in jail for another murder. Gangemi knew Melbourne underworld godfather Domenico "The Pope" Italiano, whose death in 1962 sparked a power struggle to take over the cell. That in turn resulted in the deaths of Calabrian-born mobsters Vincenzo Angilletta and Vincenzo Muratore, sparking the Market Wars.
11. 6. 1922 - 28. 6. 2008
CON AMORE E AFFETTO SIETE SEMPRE NEI NOSTRI CUORE, MAI DIMENTICATI, ETERNO RIPOSO
Created by: graver
Record added: Dec 24, 2010
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