- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Enso V. Bighinatti, 82, Red Cross official

Enso V. Bighinatti, a retired American Red Cross official internationally known as an authority on disaster relief and preparedness, died June 14 of prostate cancer at his home in the District. He was 82.

He played a major role in the release of the more than 1,000 Cuban Bay of Pigs prisoners and about 8,000 of their relatives in 1963, and received a letter from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy commending him and the Red Cross for their work in the release efforts.

Mr. Bighinatti grew up in Kensington, Conn., and graduated from Berlin High School in Berlin, Conn., in 1940.

He was a decorated World War II Army Air Corps veteran who received the Purple Heart and Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, serving as a radio gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber.

He was shot down on his 34th mission over Germany, where he was captured and imprisoned for almost a year before he escaped.

After the war, Mr. Bighinatti enrolled in Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., but left after contracting polio while registering for his final semester. He recovered the full use of most of his stricken muscles after more that a year of treatment. He was left with slight impairment in his right arm and left leg.

After an unsuccessful period of seeking employment, his wife, Mildred, suggested while on a trip to the District that he apply for work at the Red Cross.

He was hired and began a 43-year career that took him throughout the world, helping people in distress. His name is enshrined in the Red Cross Hall of Fame in the District.

From 1982 to 1984, he served as assistant to the president of the American Red Cross and as a consultant to several Red Cross units. After he retired in 1984, he served as a volunteer worker for several years until post-polio syndrome forced him to quit.

Mrs. Bighinatti served on the staff of the Republican National Committee for 42 years and retired in 1992 as executive secretary of the Republican National Finance Committee. She died in 1994 at 69.

Mr. Bighinatti is survived by two sisters, Sylvia DiPietro and Laura Ferrero, both of Kensington, Conn..

Funeral services have been held. Donations may be made to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, 45 Russell St., New Britain, CT 06052.

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