Frank J. Tarbi, the founder of the East Boston Times and a man who lived a full and fascinating life, has died. Mr. Tarbi passed away on Wednesday, February 20 at the VA Hospice in Bedford following a long battle with cancer. He was 96 years old.
Mr. Tarbi was born and raised in East Boston and was educated in the Boston Public School system.
Mr. Tarbi began a lifelong passion for writing and newspapers during World War II as a reporter for ‘Stars and Stripes’.
“He had a front page byeline and covered stories about the war on the front and other news,” said his son Henry Tarbi.
During his time overseas and still serving in Italy after the war, Tarbi got the scoop of the century after tracking down famed mob boss, Charles “Lucky” Luciano after his deportation from the states in 1946.
“My father and his photographer were greeted by a bunch of guys with guns but my father’s charm won them over and soon they were drinking wine and doing an interview,” said Henry. “But that was dad, he was remarkable man.”
It was in Italy that he met his future wife Emilia Martiniello in Naples. They were married in 1944 in Italy.
He and his future bride returned to the States and Mr. Tarbi founded the East Boston Times with brothers Salvatore and Charlie.
The operated the Times for many years serving as directors of the newspaper’s editorial content and printing through Tarbi’s printing company at 2 Lexington St.
Eventually the Tarbi would sell editorial interest in the paper to John Torrone and George DeMeo but would continue as printers of the paper for years after.
The Tarbi brothers’ successful printing company printed notable papers as the South Boston Tribune and Everett Herald.
However, Mr. Tarbi’s passion for writing continued and had a weekly column in the Times named “Musings” for decades.
He was also an established writer in Boston and his feature stories appeared regularly in Boston Globe Magazine.
But it was Mr. Tarbi’s vitality as he grew older that set him apart from most men.
“A few years ago he was part of health study on the mental capabilities of people over 80,” said Henry. “They thought he was a freak of nature.”
Until his illness began about 16 months ago Mr. Tarbi, according to his son, continued to live a full life.
“Well into his 90s he kept a full schedule, walked daily, cooked for friends went to dinner with friends, he was remarkable,” said Henry.
Henry says his father was the same way several years ago when his son, Sonny, fell ill with a rare disease.
“He was in his late 80s but would find a way every day to go to that hospital and visit Sonny before he passed away,” said Henry. “There was no stopping him, we use call him the Energizer Bunny.”
In the end, Mr. Tarbi was a man that loved and cared very deeply for the place he called home.
“He saw himself as the ultimate East Bostonian,” said Henry. “He never wanted to be anywhere else and saw this place as his only home.”
Mr. Tarbi was the husband of the late Emilia (Martiniello) Tarbi. He was the father of Henry “Hank” Tarbi and his wife Kathy of Stow, Frank J. Tarbi Jr. of East Boston and the late Salvatore “Sonny” Tarbi. He was the grandfather of Luke, Elise and Nora. He was the brother of the late Nora Alabiso, Charles Tarbi, Mary Calderone, Sara Tarbi and Salvatore Tarbi. He was also survived by loving nieces and nephews.
Services were held at the Kirby-Rapino Memorial Home in East Boston.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Frank’s memory may be made to: Union of Concerned Scientists, 2 Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA 02138-3780.