Aurelia Canestrelli Nock, 86, died on Oct. 5, 2022
SARASOTA, FL -- Among the most beloved, respected and active members of Sarasota's legendary circus community, Aurelia Canestrelli Nock, 86, died on Oct. 5, 2022, in her hometown of Sarasota. Over recent years as her health began to fail, she lived at the Sarasota home of her son, Michelangelo Nock. There, he, his wife Carolina, and their two children, both adults, Angelina and Cyrus, lovingly cared for her.
A retired all-around circus performer and native of Italy, Aurelia Nock came to America as a 19-year-old in 1956 after having performed with her family's Canestrelli Equestrian Italian circus. Her American performance debut occurred with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, where she and her uncles, Pietro and Oreste, presented an unsupported ladder act known as the Canestrellis. In that routine, Pietro, while lying on his back, foot balanced a lofty vertical ladder as his niece and brother inched their way to the top, where they executed a series of risky balancing feats.
Aurelia Nock married the Ringling Brothers headliner performer, Eugene S. Nock, a Swiss sway pole daredevil, in 1957. In subsequent years, she joined her husband's high pole act, The Nerveless Nocks. There she performed as an aerial team with her husband, his brother, Charles Nock, sister in-law Dorothy Nock, his sister, Elisabeth Nock Bauer, and brother in-law Joseph Bauer.
After the Nock family's Ringling Brothers engagement of four years ended in late 1957, the versatile troupe played independent bookings for major Shrine circuses, world fairs, expositions and other staging's throughout the U.S.A. and Canada, in 1964 the nerveless Nocks performed on the Ed Sullivan Show with the Beatles. Aurelia Nock and her Nock cast mates were also featured in performing roles with Roy and Walt Disney's, Disney on Parade for an international tour that included visits to Australia, Asia and Mexico, as well as U. S. and Canadian cities.
Among her most pleasant and memorable times were the 45 consecutive years of featured summer season performing engagements she and her family had with the Tommy Bartlett Water, Ski and Sky Show at Wisconsin Dells, WI and Pigeon Forge TN.
Born into an Italian circus family that traveled throughout Italy with its single ring big top, her parents being Elena Lentini and Giuseppe (Pepo) Canestrelli, Aurelia Nock began learning assorted circus skills as a youngster mentored by her grandmother Olga Canestrelli. She performed as an acrobat, low wire artist, aerialist and in multi-person bareback riding horse acts.
Conversant in seven languages, much of her childhood occurred in a wartime existence, as Italy experienced World War II combat between Nazi Germany occupiers and Allied invaders and liberators. She told tales of often sheltering with co-performers and their circus animals in mountain caves to avoid wartime shelling and bombardments.
In her Sarasota years as a retired performer, Aurelia Nock remained active with her circus friends and interests as a member of Showfolks of Sarasota and the Circus Fans Association of America (CFA). She also served on the executive board of Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame and was a committee member for the John and Mable Ringling Circus Celebrity, an annual recognition accorded in conjunction with The Ringling (Museum). She was also on the induction council that elected circus greats to the International Circus Hall of Fame at Peru, IN.
Aurelia Nock's husband of 42 years, husband Eugene Siegfried Nock, died at age 65 in 1999.
Survivors include her four Nock sons, all married and performers in various show business fields. They are Eugene (Jessica), John (Saundra), Michelangelo (Carolina) and Bello (Jennifer), daughter in-law Christina Ashley, fourteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren.
A funeral mass for Aurelia will be held Thursday, October 20, 2022 at 10:00 AM at Saint Martha Catholic Church performed by Father Fausto, 200 N Orange Ave, Sarasota, where she was a long-time parish member. Committal service will follow at 11:30 AM at Palms Memorial Park, 170 Honore Ave, Sarasota, FL 34232. Celebration of life and reception to include buffet dinner to follow at 12:00 PM at Robert Toale and Sons Funeral Home at Palms Memorial Park, 170 Honore Ave, Sarasota, FL 34232.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/sarasota-fl/aurelia-nock-10957235