WILMINGTON — Eugene Edward Spagnoli, 87, husband and partner to Marian “Snookie” Westover Spagnoli, loving father to Bernita, Victoria and Christin and doting grandfather to Ian, Sarah, Wiley, Norah, Scarlett and Serena, peacefully died Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Wilmington. He is survived by his wife, Marian, and his children and grandchildren. He was surrounded by his family during his final days.
Eugene spent most of his life in his childhood town of Freedom, Pennsylvania, where he served the students of Freedom Area High School as a creative and passionate music teacher for 38 years before retiring. He shared his love for music with his students who performed before enthusiastic crowds during marching band, jazz and classical music performances throughout Eugene’s career.
During his teaching tenure, Eugene brought many creative arts programs to the school, including a Fine Arts Club that introduced his students to professional musical performances in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He traveled with his students as they performed at Disney World and in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. With his contagious energy, humor and deep knowledge of music, he built lifelong relationships with his students and colleagues throughout his years of public service.
Eugene (Gene to his friends) was a first generation American whose immigrant parents, Giovanni Spagnoli and Nunziata Tecca, arrived in the United States from Italy through Ellis Island in the early 20th Century. In a neighborhood filled with many immigrant families, Giovanni and Nunziata raised Eugene and his brothers and sisters (seven of them in total), Patsy, Robert, Dora, John, Joseph (Buzz), and Pauline. Eugene’s father owned the neighborhood grocery store where Eugene and his siblings worked as teenagers. Eugene is survived by his younger sister, Pauline Heuring, who lives in California. All of his siblings made their way from humble beginnings to lead successful, meaningful lives that have contributed to the rich and diverse culture of the United States.
Eugene was very present in our family life; both he and Snookie attended every school and life celebration of their children. Eugene was at the center of the regular dinner-table conversations that come with raising a family. He brought his many creative interests into our lives — bread baking, a deep appreciation for music and opera, great enthusiasm for Italian food and culture, adventure and a positive outlook on life.
Eugene was authentic and happiest when he was with his family. We deeply appreciate and honor the many personal memories of our family life with Eugene, including music lessons, outings to Moraine State Park, Christmas Eve with the seven fishes, Pittsburgh Steelers celebrations and summer road trip vacations. He and Snookie lived in Italy for a semester late in their careers and traveled the world in their retirement, visiting Europe, the U.K. and cruising on the QE2. For the past 20 years, they spent the winter living at their second home in Tucson, Arizona, where they golfed, hiked and spent time with many friends and family. All of Eugene’s children are living their lives informed by his example. We will dearly miss him, and we are grateful for all the years we had together.
At the request of Eugene’s family, memorial donations may be made to the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, 5032 Randall Parkway, Wilmington, NC 28403.
Share online condolences with the family at Quinn-McGowen Funeral Home.