Thursday, March 12, 2009
Father Francis Ciani, a Roman Catholic priest who was one of the biggest fans of New York racing, died at Our Lady of Mercy Life Center in Guilderland, N.Y. on March 7. He was 95.
A regular on the backstretch and on the front side at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga, “Father Quinella” was a beloved man who listed God, family and country as his priorities. Racing was a close fourth.
Upon his return to the United States, he was chaplain at the Veterans Hospital in Northport, Long Island until his retirement in 1976.
One of eight children, he is survived by a brother, Ralph Ciani and his wife Lucy; his sister-in-law, Ida Ciani and many nieces and nephews.
He was buried on Wednesday, March 11, at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, which followed a Mass of Christian Burial, offered by Howard J. Hubbard, DD, Bishop of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to either the Backstretch Employee, Service Team (B.E.S.T), c/o Belmont Park, 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, Gate 6, Cottage 28B, Elmont, N.Y. 11003, or to St. John the Evangelist Church, 816 Union St., Schenectady, N.Y. 12308.
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