Alfred W. DeScenza of DeScenza Diamonds Dies at 95

IndependentsApr 15, 2024

Alfred W. DeScenza of DeScenza Diamonds Dies at 95

He is remembered by loved ones for his loyalty, integrity, and kindness.

Alfred W. DeScenza
Alfred W. DeScenza of DeScenza Diamonds in Boston, Massachusetts, died at the age of 95 on April 1. (Photo courtesy of Campbell Funeral Home)
Essex, Mass.—Alfred “Fred” W. DeScenza, owner and former president of DeScenza Diamonds in Boston, Massachusetts, died at the age of 95 on April 1.

He passed peacefully surrounded by his family, according to his online obituary.

DeScenza was born to Alfred F. DeScenza and Bertha DeScenza in June 1928.

He graduated from Medford High School and studied at the Gemological Institute of America, where he became a graduate gemologist before joining DeScenza Diamonds.

At the family business, he served as chairman of the board, president, treasurer, and diamond buyer.

He was a lifetime member of GIA, and a member of the Diamond Dealers Club of New York, the American Gem Trade Association, and the now-defunct U.S. Carat Club.

“He was one of the first individuals to buy polished diamonds directly from DeBeers and was later invited by them to take a personal tour of the mines and operations in South Africa,” said his son, Tyler DeScenza.

DeScenza also served on the board of directors for U.S. Trust (now Bank of America Private Bank), DeScenza Diamonds, the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum, and Farmsteads of New England.

The family said his daughter Deborah DeScenza's eulogy included memories of her father “being the wind beneath her wings” as she founded Farmsteads of New England, a nonprofit designed to enhance the lives of young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

“Dad worked three days a week at the store in Boston, then came to New Hampshire and worked four days a week growing enormous quantities of veggies in two acres of garden space. People used to ask if he’d always farmed. No, but he said he’s always had a garden and he knew how to multiply,” said Deborah in her eulogy.

In 2010, DeScenza retired from the family business, passing it down to the next generation.

“He was a gentle giant of a man at 6 feet 6 inches, whose loyalty, integrity, and kindness were legendary,” said his daughter, Sheryl DeScenza Tracy.

DeScenza’s passions in life were skiing, gardening, boat building, vacationing with family, stopping anywhere for ice cream, cold water ocean swims, travel, dancing with his wife, driving convertibles, and helping to found Farmsteads of New England.

He was also one of the first landowners on Leavitt Bay in Ossipee, New Hampshire.

At the age of 19, he built a log cabin on that land, which the DeScenza family still enjoys to this day.

He is survived by his wife, Shirley; his daughters Sheryl, and her husband Kevin; Deborah; Diane, and her husband John; and Alison, and her husband Lucian; his son Tyler, and his wife Suzann; and 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

DeScenza was preceded in death by his sisters Ethel and Doris.

A funeral mass was held on April 8 at St. John the Baptist in Essex, followed by a private burial.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in DeScenza’s memory to Farmsteads of New England

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