Ernesto Ponticello, ‘tailor from Taylor Street,’ passes away at age 75
May 6, 2017

Ernesto Ponticello.

Ernesto Ponticello, known as the “tailor from Taylor Street,” passed away on March 3 at age 75.

Born Jan. 6, 1942, in Casalnuovo in Naples, Italy, Mr. Ponticello was the eighth of nine children of Gaetano Ponticello and Maria Ravo. His family owned a shoe factory, and his first occupation was as a six-year-old shoemaker. Following his father’s death, the family factory closed, and he and some of his siblings took up the tailoring trade.

Mr. Ponticello began learning the trade at age eight and continued as a tailor for the remainder of his life. Mr. Ponticello and Maddalena Terracciano grew up together as neigh- bors, became childhood sweet- hearts, and married on Oct. 5, 1970, in Casalnuovo. They immigrated to the U.S. in 1974 and settled on the Near West Side in a rented two-bedroom apartment on Lexington Street. His brother, Biagio, already was wor- king in Chicago as a tailor. In 1980, they purchased a home on West Flournoy Street, where they lived for 38 years and raised six children.

Mr. Ponticello worked as a tailor at Oxford Clothes for 35 years. When he retired in 2009, he was working in their factory doing piecework for men’s custom suits. He helped make custom suits for President Bill Clinton and actor Will Smith. He also tailored for many neighbors and friends, and typically the charge would be minimal or even no charge at all; he also would accept a trade for his services. Mr. Ponticello was always a stylish dresser, and people called him “the Tailor from Taylor Street.” Mr. and Mrs. Ponticello became U.S. citizens in 1989.

According to their daughter Patrizia Fiordirosa, “Those who cared for him knew he was a real jokester who loved to laugh, play music, and dance. If he had a motto it would be ‘eat, drink, and be merry,’ preferably eating carciofoli, playing old Napoletano songs, and enjoying a big glass of red wine.” Mr. Ponticello is survived by his wife of nearly 47 years, Maddalena (nee Terracciano) and their six children, Maria, Apollonia (Guy Swanson), Lucia (Miguel) Pelayo, Gaetana (Jason Odom), Erni, and Patrizia (Giovanni) Fiordirosa, as well as eleven grandchildren. “I will miss my dear husband that I have known my entire life,” Maddalena said, noting he was “my friend first and will be my husband forever, even in death.”

Mass of Christian Burial was at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, and entombment is at Queen of Heaven Christ the King Mausoleum.