Photo of My Great-Grandfather

Ellis Island, 1929
Ellis Island, 1929

In 1929, my great-grandfather immigrated from Albania to America. He is pictured above at Ellis Island in the top row, fourth person from the left. He was 19 years old. Originally born Vasil Paluk, he changed his name to William Pitro, taking his mother’s maiden name. Hoping for a better quality of life, he was determined to take the chance he was given and make a name for himself. My great-grandfather went on to open his own restaurant and purchase a three-decker in Massachusetts. After marrying my great-grandmother, Anna, they decided to use the three-decker as a rental property and bought a house together, raising five kids. They were both fluent in Albanian, but the Albanian language and culture in my family has faded over time. My grandmother, Dian Levitan, is the youngest of William and Anna’s children. Before retiring, she worked as an accountant for several companies, continuously receiving promotions and excelling in her field. She had two kids: my uncle and my mom. My mom earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. Even though she had me when she was sixteen, my mom achieved the rank of valedictorian of her graduating Master’s class. This picture represents the precedent my great-grandfather set for our family over the past century, highlighting the importance of hard work, perseverance, and excellence. He didn’t know it at the time, but his humble beginnings paved the way for mine and my family’s success. 

Place(s): Albania, Ellis Island (NY)
Year: 1929

– Ariana Levitan

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more