A pillar of the Cloverdale community has passed away.
Bruno Zappone—longtime volunteer, past Chamber president, volunteer firefighter, heritage supporter, and champion of all things Cloverdale—died June 22. He was 95.
Zappone was born on July 18, 1925 and lived in Cloverdale his entire life.
“It’s a huge loss,” said Paul Orazietti, executive director for the Cloverdale BIA. “Now we look back and start to appreciate, fully, what this individual has done. Because it was done for love of community, not for ego.”
Orazietti, who worked alongside Zappone for years, said Zappone shunned the limelight, never looking for credit or accolades. He only wanted to help people and to give his time.
“He just wanted to fit in; he loved people a lot.”
Orazietti said Zappone was involved in the community in a variety of ways, noting Zappone and his “service club” provided a lot of fundraising activities for Cloverdale over the years.
“They were a sort of precursor to what the Cloverdale Community Kitchen is all about.”
Orazietti said since the day he came to town, Zappone was involved in the business community, helping at every event. “We got dragged into a lot of things, willingly.”
He added Zappone’s love for heritage and history drove him and he went to great lengths, alongside others, to ensure heritage was preserved. One such example was his campaign to keep the Museum of Surrey in Cloverdale.
“Traditional planning basically puts all civic infrastructure in the downtown,” explained Orazietti. “Bruno broke the mould with that and protected our heritage in keeping the museum in Cloverdale.”
Orazietti said Zappone was also active as the president of the CloverdaleDistrict Chamber of Commerce; he created the Surrey Heritage Society and was the group’s first president. He said together, they created the B.C. Vintage Truck Museum. Zappone also owned Zappone Trucking, which operated for 73 years from 1946 to 2019.
A very sad day for Cloverdale but heaven is getting one of our all stars Bruno Zappone. It was an honour to work with this amazing citizen of Surrey and we were all truly blessed by his service above self. Gone but not forgotten, say hi to Bill when u get there! @CloverdaleNews pic.twitter.com/OC5kaf86jE
— Paul Orazietti (@Paradeguy) June 22, 2021
Local resident Alan Clegg said Zappone alway put Cloverdale first.
Clegg noted Zappone was a fire chief for the Cloverdale Volunteer Fire Brigade.
“Bruno was the third fire chief and he was elected in 1950,” he said. “He joined the brigade in 1943 when he was 18 years old.”
Clegg said Zappone was elected chief three times—1950, 1951, and 1952. He added Zappone served the Cloverdale Volunteer Fire Brigade for more than 40 years.
“In those days you were fire chief for most of Surrey,” explained Clegg. “Cloverdale would take their trucks all over the Surrey area. And Bruno was a reliable person to have at the Brigade, of course. He knew trucks and in those days they had to monkey-wrench their own trucks.”
Clegg said Zappone was also a founding member of the Cloverdale chapter of the Lions Club when that group got going in the ’70s.
“He was involved in organizations that made Cloverdale better.”
Orazietti explained that Zappone was always willing to help in any way he could, but he was really keen to preserve heritage stuff.
“Bruno had a real love affair with protecting and enshrining our history,” said Orazietti. “Bruno was an integral part of our community and he was a mentor.”
He said to an outsider, Zappone could come off as gruff and unhappy, but that was not Zappone; he was just unassuming and quiet and no nonsense.
“He had the biggest heart out of anyone I’ve ever met in this town.”
When Orazietti needed help for a parade one time, there was Zappone champing at the bit.
“We put money together for a small marching band, you know, it’s just one thing after another after another, just amazing, charity and humbleness. He was really what you’d call the salt of the earth—really a person that makes the community. I was blessed to have Bruno and his group with us everywhere.”
Orazietti explained that Zappone was a fundamental building block in Cloverdale’s community structure. And because of his tireless efforts for Cloverdale, Orazietti wants to honour Zappone’s legacy in some way.
“People like Bruno should be honoured, because he made a profound difference. Not just above average, but his work was profound,” said Orazietti. “What he did was incredible. And you have to honour their memory, because you want the young people to learn from somebody like him.”
One of those profound differences, Orazietti reiterated, was Zappone’s instrumental hand in helping to establish the truck museum. Orazietti said part of Zappone’s legacy rests with that museum.
“I think, visually, that might be the best way to see what he’s done. It’s very educational and a real asset for the province and for the country,” said Orazietti.
“Of all the people that I’ve run into, Bruno’s one of the few that went beyond the call. There’s some people, not many, that are in that league.”