Ottavio moved to Argentina, where he found tailoring work, then returned to Abruzzo, Italy, where he ran a successful men's clothing and shoe store before another disaster, in the form of a flood, wiped him out.
It was then that Ottavio moved his growing family to its final destination, South Philadelphia.
Ottavio Parenti, whose skill with needle and thread and his winning personality won him quick advancement at a local clothing-manufacturing company, operator of his own men's clothing business and father of seven children, died Monday. He was 93 and lived in Longport, N.J. He had lived since the early '60s in South Philadelphia.
Ottavio discovered that the suits he was making for D'Alonzo-Lancaster Inc. were going to such celebrities as basketball legend Chamberlain, broadcaster Howard Cosell and actor Telly Savalas.
By that time, Ottavio had become a true Philadelphian who loved the Flyers and chilling out on the beach at Wildwood.
A highlight of his life was when Flyers great Bernie Parent showed up at his 90th birthday celebration.
Ottavio was born in the town of Vacri in the Italian province of Chieti in 1920. He became an apprentice in an exclusive guild of tailors and earned the title of master tailor.
He married 18-year-old Norma DiFederico in 1940.
In 1960, Ottavio, then 40, father of three sons and a newborn daughter, moved to America to find new opportunities. He eventually was able to bring his family here and he and his wife had two more daughters and another son.
They lived on 9th Street above Oregon Avenue for 40 years. His wife died in 1998.
At the D'Alonzo company, Ottavio rose through the ranks to become a manager and supervisor. After leaving the firm, he and a partner formed a custom men's clothing company, working out of a shop in South Philadelphia and making clothing for an exclusive clientele.
Health issues forced his retirement at age 72.
Ottavio and his family loved the beach. He and his wife began their fondness for the ocean on the beaches near Pescara in Italy, then after moving to Philly, introduced their children to beach life in Wildwood, long a favorite summer destination for South Philadelphians.
"Ottavio Parenti's quiet demeanor belied a fierce survivor determined to overcome the obstacles of war, collapsed economies and the trials of immigration," his family said.
He is survived by four sons, Alex, Bert, the Rev. Anthony and Ottavio Jr.; three daughters, Vera Parenti-Ancone, Mary Parenti and Lola Kenyon; 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. tomorrow, St. Rita of Cascia Shrine, Broad and Ellsworth streets. Friends may call at 9 a.m.