Type to search

Italians in America – Our Immigrant Stories: Parents were blueprint for her life as a builder – of big projects, relationships and dreams


Written by Tanya Tecce

The National Constitution Center, the Eagles Stadium (Lincoln Financial Field), Cira Center, Sysco, 10 Rittenhouse, schools in Philadelphia and Margate, a race track, casinos and 13 pages of other projects, airports, condos, hotels and high rises, illuminate the force of nature that is Carol Tamburino. Her life’s work is mortar to our region’s foundation and her name dots our skyline shining through the buildings of which she was an integral part.

Glam mom Carol Tamburino catches a keeper with her grandson Savino, 2023.

Like so many Italian-American immigrants, her parents started humbly, yet with that incredible work ethic. Savino (“Sam”) and Mary Biondi Tamburino built their family in South Philadelphia. His family originally from Naples, Savino worked three jobs: as an electrician for the railroad; as a barber; and a renaissance man that could fix everything. The neighbors knew him as a gentleman they could count on. Every Sunday he’d quietly collect scraps to build bikes for the neighborhood children.

Coordinated colors: Carol Tamburino and her daughter Sabrina.

The perfect complement for Savino’s reserved presence, Mary was a dynamo. She too worked three jobs: as the top sales girl for Zelda’s clothing; the seamstress with hands of gold; and as the first-ever school crossing guard at 24th and Wolf police station in Philadelphia. She shepherded the kids, including little Frankie Avalon, who grew very fond of the woman he called “Mary the cop.” The children knew she looked out for them and her amazing feats, like getting the street closed off so they could play, were a thrill! Mary was known for cooking the kind of meals (manicotti by hand and her signature eggplant “meatballs” among many) that you dream about.

Three generations, from left: Mary Biondi Tamburino, Sabrina and Carol Tamburino ride in (and win) an Easter parade in Atlantic City, 1985.

Savino and Mary’s service to community and ceaseless work ethic carry on (and on!) in their daughter Carol. As a junior in high school, Carol was handpicked to intern for Reliance Standard Life while at the same time managing five lawyers in a law firm. Unstoppable like her mother, she soon rose to manager where she developed a Whole Life team, which was unheard of at the time. A first client was US Air and soon after, she and her 80-person team were traveling nationwide. She moved on to a millwork company, and then the casino industry with Atlantic City and Las Vegas as her territories. She made time for family, friends, charity and community every step along the way. She eventually landed at the largest construction company in the industry at the time, Turner Construction, where she worked with developers and architects for nearly 17 years. She was director of business development for an engineering company for over nine years; owned a Sun- Tan company in Daytona for six, and managed in the entertainment world as well.

Carol built a network beyond compare with her sense of adventure and travel, bright humor, relentless energy, remarkable emotional intelligence and unparalleled people skills. Carol knows people. I mean really knows, and I mean so many people. From the CEO to the cashier, to celebrities, to the valet; she knows their first names, and not only their kids’ names; but their moms, dads, grandparents, families and what brightens their day. With phenomenal recall, she takes the time to ask them about it.

As her daughter Sabrina reminds us, “My Mom was social media before social media existed!”

Carol built a life, not once but twice. When Sabrina was just 12 their house burned down. They lost everything except the clothes on their back, Sabrina’s teddy bear, their lives, and irrepressible will. Many have asked her to write a book about her remarkable life experiences including the time she stopped for a “quick visit” to the SS Norway on Delaware Avenue to see one of her best friends, Connie Stevens – not knowing the ship was leaving for Southampton, London. The hilarity that ensued for her with no passport, no clothes and just her American Express should have been a movie! Maybe it will someday.

Carrying her parents’ torch of giving back, she’s
been honored for civic leadership countless times, and spotlighted for her contributions to community by many including Gov. Ed Rendell, the Invincible Vince Papale, and Tony LoBianco, to name just a few (we don’t have enough pages)! Local landmark restaurants, beloved sports teams like the Eagles, and historic institutions like the Union League of America have all celebrated her. Her family, friends and colleagues look to her as a role model.

For me, Carol is the Queen of construction, but a builder of so much more than just physical things like wrought iron railings, concrete buildings, and high-rise hotels.

Carol built a family. “Glam” is so grateful and proud of her grandson Savino (named after her dad) and is devoted to him and her daughter Sabrina. Her cup definitely runneth over in this most important area. There’s more to share, so she builds incredible teams and extended family, connecting people. She loves her family and friends wholeheartedly.

Carol builds on faith and the discipline to give thanks multiple times a day, reminding me that “God has your blueprint.”

She is a builder of remembering honey is much sweeter than vinegar, so be kind – and to “shake it off ” when things start weighing you down.

Perhaps most of all, Carol is a builder of dreams and the proof that you can reach them.

Carol Tamburino is a construction consultant nationwide. She is a Leo, a kind soul like her father, and an amazing cook like her mother. You’ll find her “Tambo long hots” on the menu at Philadelphia’s Gran Cafe l’Aquila.


Tanya Tecce

Tanya is an Anxiety Anthropologist and Family Alchemist sharing deep nervous system restoratives and healing family constellation work with her clients. Master certified in Transformational Psychology NLP, she curates decades of study and experience in neuroscience, psychology, family constellations, epigenetics, yoga, and ayurveda to heal mindset and fortify your nervous system so it feels safe for you to get what you want. She’s led retreats to Italy annually since 2014 and has worked with Today Media since 2003, IAH since 2019. To learn more about her powerful “suffering obligations of love” work visit: tanyatecce.lpages.co/protect-my-peace/

  • 1

Stay up-to-date with our free email newsletter

Keep a pulse on local food, art, and entertainment content when you join our Italian-American Herald Newsletter.