All who knew JoAnne Busateri could easily detect that certain sparkle in her eye coupled with an Irish charm that made her such an extraordinary woman to know and love. She was a dedicated mother to be sure, but she just may have argued that it was her roles as a grandmother and great-grandmother that were her greatest reward. JoAnne was no stranger to hard work and could find the silver lining along any black cloud as the sort of woman who was content in whatever life brought throughout the peaks and valleys of her life’s journey. She will be deeply missed and warmly remembered.
The Roaring Twenties were a decade filled with amazing discoveries in America fueled by innovation that was taking us places we had never been. There were motion pictures available in both color and sound, modern conveniences such as the washing machine and refrigerator, and more affordable cars that brought people to the streets in record numbers. It was during this bustling time that a young couple from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was blessed with the birth of a baby girl on June 8th. JoAnne was one of four children born to her parents, Earl and Meryl Richardson, and was raised in the family home in West Milwaukee alongside her siblings, Dan, Jack, and Patricia. Her father later ran off to join the circus while her mother worked as a tour guide for the Milwaukee Public Museum and also for Rexnord in order to support her family. JoAnne’s mother later remarried, and her stepfather, Johnny Sawyer, was the owner of a trucking business and a race car driver.
In many ways JoAnne experienced a childhood that was reflective of the times. She was a bit of a tomboy who was athletically inclined as she preferred things like playing baseball, swimming, and riding her bike over playing with dolls. JoAnne was very close to her siblings, and she could often be found having loads of fun with them. She attended local schools, excelled in swimming and diving, and she also loved to sew and type. After graduating from West Milwaukee High School JoAnne spent some time working as a packer at Johnson Cookie Factory.
New and exciting changes were in store for JoAnne when she met the man who would change the course of her life forever. His name was Carl Busateri, and they met on the tennis courts at the foot of Lafayette Avenue on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The couple jumped into a dating relationship with both feet and were quickly smitten with one another. A true romantic at heart, Carl proposed in 1948 saying, “Marry me because this 90 minute street car ride from the East side to West Milwaukee is killing me!” Truth be told, however, Carl loved JoAnne so much that he would have traveled to the ends of the earth just to be with his sweetheart. They exchanged their vows at St. Rita’s Church on Cass Street, deeply in love.
After a honeymoon in the Wisconsin Dells, the newlyweds returned to Milwaukee. JoAnne left the workforce, focusing her attention on caring for her husband and home. Together JoAnne and Carl welcomed two children, Carl and Meryl “Gina”, into their hearts and home. At times JoAnne also worked as a seamstress and in the family income tax and accounting business.
From the moment she became a mother, JoAnne fully embraced the enormity of the task. She was a wonderful listener and confidante who was always there for her children. JoAnne was quick to praise her children, never criticizing them, she was an integral part of helping them find their way. She was active in the lives of her children, too, including as a Girl Scout leader. JoAnne’s skills as a seamstress came in handy as she made all of her daughter’s clothing until she was 15 years old. One of Gina’s favorites was a blue leather jacket and white fur muff. Carl Jr. never even owned a pair of jeans until he got married as she made his clothes, too, including his much loved corduroy trousers with the elastic waistband.
There was nothing of greater significance in JoAnne’s life than her loved ones. She was her husband’s best friend and his chauffeur. They traveled all over the country together visiting family and friends in places like Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas among many other states. JoAnne loved the holidays and always made them so special for her loved ones. Christmas at her house found them leisurely opening their gifts one by one, interrupted only by a meal of pasta with sausage, meatballs, and neck bones – an unmatched Sicilian feast! St. Patrick’s Day was another one of JoAnne’s favorites, celebrated with her daughter eating corned beef and cabbage with her annual green beer.
Becoming a grandmother was a true blessing in JoAnne’s life. She was a fantastic grandmother who loved spoiling her grandchildren and great-grandchildren whenever the opportunity arose. Jo Anne enjoyed crocheting, especially making blankets and Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for her grandchildren. JoAnne also made various stuffed animals with monkeys being Nick’s favorite while it was bears for Chris. She loved hitting the area rummage sales and eating at Ponderosa with her only granddaughter, Meghan, and of course she allowed Meghan to make any sundae concoction she wanted while never saying a word.
Throughout her life JoAnne was one to keep busy. Up until her death, she was a master at puzzles and a champion checkers player, too. In fact, her son was never able to beat her in all his 62 years! JoAnne was an avid Brewers fan whose favorite Brewer was Prince Fielder. Game time always found her wearing her pink Brewers cap. She also loved romance novels, her big screen TV, and watching Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, and Law & Order. JoAnne was even a personal friend of Pete Barbutti. She loved watching old movies in black and white, especially those starring her favorite actor, Burt Lancaster, since she thought her Carl was a spitting image of him. JoAnne’s favorite movie was Back Street with Susan Hayward, and no matter how many times she watched it she always cried.
Through the life she lived each day JoAnne Busateri taught us so much about what it means to be a woman of beauty, grace, and selfless generosity. She touched all those within her reach in such a special way.
JoAnne G. Busateri died on November 15, 2012. JoAnne’s family includes her children, Carl M. (Roberta) Busateri and Gina Busateri; grandchildren, Nicholas (Amber) Micale, Christopher (Tonia) Micale, and Meghan (Jesse) Augustine; great-grandchildren, Marcela, Haley, Layla, and Rosalia; brother, Jack (Marilyn) Richardson; and other relatives and friends. JoAnne was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Carl M. Busateri, and her siblings, Dan Richardson and Patricia Sawyer. Visitation Tues., Nov. 20 at the Funeral Home from 4 -7 p.m. Funeral Mass 10:00 a.m. Wed., Nov. 21 at Three Holy Women Parish – St. Rita Church 1601 N. Cass Street MEET AT CHURCH. Entombment Holy Cross Cemetery. Arrangements by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a memory.
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