April 1, 1891
Arpaise, Benevento, Italy
|Died||April 28, 1950
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Founder of the
Generoso Pope Foundation
|Spouse(s)||Catherine Richichi (1896–1998)|
Generoso Pope, Jr.
|Relatives||Carlo Papa (brother) Maria Papa ( sister )|
Generoso Pope (April 1, 1891 – April 28, 1950) was an Italian-American businessman and the owner of a chain of Italian-language newspapers in major American cities.
Generoso was born with the name Generoso Antonio Pompilio Carlo Papa. He was the son of farmers Fortunato and Fortunata Papa. His last name is an anglicized version of his birth name, "Papa" being the Italian form of address for the Pope. After coming to the United States, he fathered three sons with his wife Catherine (1896-1998). His eldest son, Fortunato "Fortunate", (1918–1996) graduated from Columbia University and became an executive in the family construction business. Anthony (1919–2005) who was the middle son, took over the family business and quadrupled the size of Colonial Sand and Stone Company in less than four years. Generoso Pope, Jr. (1927–1988) graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology at age 19 and purchased what was to become the National Enquirer in 1952, two years after his father's death.
Generoso Pope arrived in the United States at age 15 in 1906 and found work carrying water for construction crews. He rose to construction supervisor and, eventually, owner of Colonial Sand & Stone, which was the largest sand and gravel company in the world.
In 1912, Generoso established Pope Foods to import Italian foods. He bought the Italian-language daily newspaper Il Progresso Italo-Americano in 1928 for $2,050,000, which would convert to $261,000,000 in the modern day economy. He doubled its circulation to 200,000 in New York City, making it the largest Italian-language daily in the country. He purchased additional papers in New York, including Il Bollettino della Sera, Il Corriere d'America, and the Philadelphia daily L'Opinione. He also owned the radio station, WHOM. He became the chief source of political, social, and cultural information for the community.
A conservative Democrat who ran the Columbus Day parade and admired Mussolini, Pope was the most powerful enemy of anti-Fascism among Italian Americans. He was closely associated with Tammany Hall politics in New York, and his newspapers played a vital role in securing the Italian vote for Franklin D. Roosevelt's Democratic tickets. With his presidential friendships, Generoso was able to make Columbus Day into a national holiday in 1934. He also founded the Columbus Day Parade in New York City, which is still the world's largest Columbus Day Parade.
Pope served as chairman of the Italian Division of the Democratic National Committee in 1936, and helped persuade the president to take a neutral attitude over Italy's invasion of Ethiopia. He broke with Benito Mussolini in 1941 and enthusiastically supported the American war effort. In the late 1940s, Pope supported and helped secure the vote for William O'Dwyer as New York City mayor in 1945 and Harry S. Truman as president. His business concerns continued to prosper under New York's Democratic administrations. In the early years of the Cold War, Pope was a leading anti-Communist, orchestrating a letter writing campaign by his subscribers to stop the Communists from winning the Italian elections in 1948.
Generoso Pope died of a heart ailment at age 59 in April, 1950. At the time of his death he lived at 1040 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, a residence that would become famous fourteen years later as the home of Jackie Kennedy. Pope was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in a private mausoleum adjacent to Central Avenue, the cemetery's main road. His wife Catherine Richichi Pope died in 1998 at age 101. The entire Pope family is interred at Woodlawn except for Gene, Jr., who is buried at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Cemetery in Royal Palm Beach, Florida.
The St. Francis College athletics complex in Brooklyn, New York is named after Generoso Pope. The complex houses the college's NCAA Division I teams and was erected in 1971. In addition Pope Hall at Saint Peter's College in Jersey City, New Jersey was dedicated to Generoso in 1971. The Generoso Pope Foundation is located in Tuckahoe, New York. There is also a dedication mural for Generoso Pope at Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, New York.
- From Il Progresso to the Enquirer: the story of the Pope family. Tiziano Thomas Dossena, L'Idea Magazine #3 Vol.II, NY, 2000
- "Terrier Magazine Fall 2007" (PDF). SFC.edu. Retrieved 4 November 2012.