Henry E. Ciccarone, 97, Naval Academy tailor

March 01, 2004

Henry E. Ciccarone, who arrived in Fells Point a penniless immigrant from Italy and became a master tailor who made clothes for presidents and admirals, died Saturday of complications from dementia at Heritage Harbor Health and Rehabilitation Center in Annapolis. He was 97 and a longtime Annapolis resident.

Mr. Ciccarone was a tailor from 1923 until 1971 at the Naval Academy, where he started as an apprentice at age 15 and later would cut suits for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy.

"He had a request from President Truman to make him a hat," said his son, John A. Ciccarone of Pottstown, Pa.

"It was a size 7 3/4 , and Dad delivered it to the White House," he said.

Mr. Ciccarone arrived aboard a ship at the Fells Point docks in 1921 at age 14. He was alone, had no money and was hungry.

"When Dad arrived here they gave him an apple, an orange and a banana," said the son. "He was so hungry he ate all three pieces of fruit and since he'd never seen a banana in his life, he ate it skin included."

Mr. Ciccarone lived with an uncle in Annapolis, and in 1923 went to the Naval Academy to take a job as apprentice tailor.

In 1937, he met and married Elizabeth DaDamio, who died in 1991. Another son, Henry A. Ciccarone, the noted former coach of the Johns Hopkins University's lacrosse team, died in 1988.

John A. Ciccarone said, "My father had so many stories, but the leading one was himself, of how proud he was coming to America broke and making his way in such fine fashion, making clothes for presidents. He was so proud of that."

Mr. Ciccarone also measured and cut new military uniforms for countless admirals and academy superintendents, he said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church, 109 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis.

In addition to his son, survivors include six grandsons and 10 great-grandchildren.

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