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Published: Monday, 11/24/2003

Native of Italy came to Ohio as war prisoner

Lino DeMaria, a retired metal polisher living in Oregon who first came to the United States as a World War II prisoner of war captured by Allied forces in North Africa, died yesterday at St. Charles Hospital. He was 82.

The cause of death was respiratory failure, said his son Dr. James DeMaria.

Mr. DeMaria, born in Bologna, Italy, began serving in the Italian Army in 1941. During a flight to the fighting in North Africa his plane crashed and he soon found himself on the front lines in the battle for Tunisia, in which German and Italian troops fought British and American forces.

By January, 1943, when it was clear to Mr. DeMaria that the Allies would win the war, he and several others gave themselves up to the Americans. By Easter that year, he was in New York, then Missouri, and eventually Ohio. By then, Italy had surrendered to the Allies.

It was at the Rossford Ordnance Depot, now the site of Owens Community College, that Mr. DeMaria would meet Mary Rose D Emilio, a local girl visiting for a dance whom he would marry two years later.

“They developed a real close friendship and love when he was here,” Dr. DeMaria said. “It was a love at first sight sort of thing. They started out on opposite continents, and love brought them together.”

Mr. DeMaria was one of about 6,000 Japanese, Italian, and German soldiers taken prisoner and brought to Ohio and Michigan prison camps for the rest of the war. In exchange for pledging allegiance to the United States, Mr. DeMaria and soldiers like him were given much more freedom. They became part of the 323rd Italian Quartermaster Battalion at Camp Perry, his son said.

“He was always fairly appreciative of his treatment the Americans gave him,” Dr. DeMaria said.

Mr. DeMaria returned to Italy in January, 1946. He and his future wife corresponded by letters and he eventually proposed. At 21 years old, Miss D Emilio traveled to the war-torn country to be with him, Dr. DeMaria said.

After they married in November, 1947, Mrs. DeMaria returned home, alone, to northwest Ohio and it was several months before Mr. DeMaria would join her.

When he was finally allowed to immigrate to Toledo, Mr. DeMaria took a job with a metal polishing company on Wheeling Street in East Toledo. They stayed with her parents until they saved enough money to settle in Oregon, where they remained.

He later worked at Interlake Iron until the early 1960s, when Mr. DeMaria took a job at Doehler-Jarvis. He remained there until 1980.

Mr. DeMaria was an usher at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Oregon and a member of its Alba Club and St. Joseph s Society.

Surviving are his wife, Mary Rose DeMaria; sons, James and Jess DeMaria; two brothers; four sisters, and six grandchildren.

The body will be in the Eggleston-Meinert-Pavley Funeral Home in Oregon after 2 p.m. tomorrow. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. at St. Ignatius.

The family suggests tributes to Cardinal Stritch High School.



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