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August 26, 2014 > History Column: Rice-A-Roni

History Column: Rice-A-Roni

By Philip Holmes:

Paul Dominic De Domenico was born in San Francisco to Merrial and Pasquale De Domenico on December 23, 1934. He attended local schools and worked in the family owned Golden Grain Macaroni Company and the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company under his fatherÕs tutelage. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism and served as an officer in the United States Army, then entered the family business where he pioneered ÒRice-A-RoniÓ as the first convenience food.

Paul met his future wife, Anita Ludovici while on a business trip to her fatherÕs Italian deli. She was only 15 years old and pursuing a career as a ballerina, but the two kept in touch. Later, she was in Los Angeles to audition for a movie; the part required her to kiss a man and she was unsure if she should. ÒMaybe you should consider settling down,Ó Paul told her. ÒHow about me, for instance?Ó When she said she wasnÕt sure, he told her heÕd give her 30 days to answer.

She decided to marry De Domenico and never performed the screen test. Paul and Anita Ludovici were married at her hometown of Vancouver, Canada in 1960. They apparently wanted to raise their children in a suburban area so they purchased a home in Glenmoore in 1968 and moved to Fremont with their two children, Paul and Gina. They soon became involved in community projects.

Dorothy Pegueros, Sumi Lampert, Betty Sabraw, Flo Aragon and Anita De Domenico met in early January 1969 to come up with a plan to raise money for the Fremont YMCA building fund. According to reports, they followed AnitaÕs plan that resulted in the formation of the Candle Lighters, a non-profit fundraising organization dedicated to raising money for worthwhile causes in Fremont. Paul was on the Executive Board and Anita was described as Òthe chairman of the wonderful group of public-spirited women in the Tri Cities area that have committed themselves to the youth in the area.Ó

Paul was described as a quiet, mild-mannered man who had earned a legion of friends through the clubs and organizations to which he belonged. At this time, he was Vice President of the Golden Grain Macaroni Company and President of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

Paul became president of the parent Golden Grain Corporation that grew to include the Ghirardalli Chocolate Company. After PaulÕs father died the company was sold.

A partial list of his activities in the Tri-Cities area would include: Director Alameda County Mental Health Association, Ohlone College Foundation, Fremont YMCA Board of Managers, Alameda County Democratic Advisory Committee, Co-Founder and member of Dads for Better Education, executive committee BoyÕs Town of Italy, Appeared in advisory capacity before the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly; member Fremont Board of the Boy Scouts of America, 1969 Chairman YMCA Sponsor membership drive (where they raised more than $10,000 locally to continue Fremont YMCA activities of 1,000 boys, Chairman Golden Eagle Associates (fund-raising group for candidates), active as Democratic co-chairman for local candidates in 1964-1966, Delegate to the 1968 national Democratic Party Convention in Chicago, Ill.

AnitaÕs primary involvement with civic work in Fremont appears to be with the Candle Lighters, but she did support a number or organizations in other areas, and after all, she did have two children to care for. Both Anita and Paul supported the San Mateo Lighthouse for the Blind (a school for blind children) and the San Mateo Junior Museum. They also were sponsors of the Half-Way House, an organization that supported activities for the mentally ill.

Anita and Paul always expressed a desire to help other people and alleviate suffering in any form. Paul was quoted as saying, ÒWe both feel that we have a responsibility and obligation to the community of mankind. We try everyday to live the Christian life.Ó Some residents recall that Paul was interested in childrenÕs education and campaigned to get televisions in the classrooms.

Anita, Paul and their two children moved to Hawaii where they established the Hawaiian Holiday Macadamia Nut Company as a nut supplier for the Ghirardelli Company. They eventually expanded the retail division of the company to stores on several islands. They were sometimes called ÒMr. and Mrs. MacNut.Ó They lived in Hawaii for 23 years; founded a private day school and restored an old Hawaiian Plantation House.

They followed their children to Santa Fe in 1989 and quickly became involved in the community and state. Paul received many awards and became friends with many famous people but their Òpride and joyÓ continued to be their two children, Paul Jr. and Gina and their children.

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