Born as a first generation American, John Busateri was proud of his roots, and also saw the value of investing in future generations as evidenced by his deep love for his children and grandchildren. John was a man of great character with a strong work ethic which he instilled within his children, often while working right alongside them. Although John never established vast amounts of wealth according to the world’s standards, when it came to matters of the heart, he certainly had wealth beyond measure. John loved surrounding himself with his family all throughout his lifetime, his absence leaving behind a void that will never be filled.
The 1920s were an exciting time to be an American as industry was booming and within the land of the free, one’s opportunities were merely limited by one’s dreams. It was on September 5, 1920, that in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, John Joseph Busateri was born to Joseph and Ninfa (Micelli) Busateri. John’s father came to America from Saint Agnes, Sicily with his brother-in-law Salvatore in 1901, and in 1905, Ninfa followed. They did not speak or write English and settled on the east side of Milwaukee. John was one of 15 children in his family including 13 boys and two girls. He attended Cass Street Elementary School and Lincoln High School. John didn’t graduate from high school until he was 20 because he kept skipping school! He enjoyed sports, especially softball, and his team even won the Kitten Ball Championship in 1942.
As WWII raged on overseas, John became one of the many brave young men who answered the call to serve when he joined the Army Air Corps. He served in Greenland and Iceland working with and repairing radar equipment, earning the rank of sergeant. When he returned stateside in 1945, he was stationed in Manchester, New Hampshire. This was a significant time for John as it was while in New Hampshire that he met the young woman with whom he would share a love story that spanned more than 50 years. Her name was Sophie Christy, and they met in a coffee shop. As fate would have it, their paths crossed again at a USO dance where Sophie was working. They enjoyed dancing together that evening, and there was an attraction between them that neither could deny. John asked his young sweetheart to wait a year for him as he would surely return for her. Always a man of his word, John did indeed return and they were married on February 23, 1946 in Manchester, New Hampshire. As husband and wife, they then moved to Milwaukee.
In 1947 John entered Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) where he studied electrical engineering. He completed his studies in just three-and-a-half years this time around, graduating with a BS in electrical engineering and a minor in business law. It took some time to secure a job, but John was hired at Allen-Bradley Company in 1951 as an electrical engineer. He was a dedicated employee there for 34 years, retiring in 1985.
With a means to support their family secured, John and Sophie decided it was time to start a family. They were first blessed with their son Jon, and a few years later, their daughter Betty. John and Sophie raised their young family on N Van Buren Street in a flat above John’s parents until 1955 when they moved into their home on N Cass Street. Since they lived so close to their large family, there were always plenty of cousins for their children to play with, and they often held family gatherings together as well. Their children have such fond memories of that neighborhood where the laughter was always plentiful.
One of the things that John and Sophie established within their family was close relationships. The family did not have a car, so on Sundays they would go to church followed by lunch at an area restaurant. After that, they rode the bus to the end of the line, allowing them to see the city. At times they also went to the airport to watch the planes, and the Ogden Theatre was a favorite too, often twice a week. John also instilled within his children the importance of a strong work ethic. His children had a paper route, and every Sunday morning one could find John getting up at 5:30 in the morning to help them get it done on time. He often told his son, “I’ll do this section, you can do the rest.”
In 1968, their family was forced to move as the state was coming through their property with a proposed freeway. They settled on the south side of Milwaukee in the Bay View neighborhood. Ironically, the freeway was never built.
Later in life, the blessings continued for John and Sophie. They were filled with great joy to see their three grandsons born, and grow up too. Family remained an important component in their lives, and they continued to host several family gatherings at their home including Christmas parties and picnics. After John retired, he never remained idle for too long and could often be found at various senior centers where he satiated his longtime love for playing cards, especially Bridge. Wilson Park Senior Center and the Jewish Community Center were two of his favorites. John and Sophie often took day trips whether by themselves or with other friends and Sophie was always the driver because John did not drive.
Sophie later began having some medical challenges that slowed her activities. John was deeply saddened with her death on April 6, 1999, after 53 beautiful years of marriage. Although John continued to socialize and play cards at the community centers, his life was never quite the same without his wife.
Whether he was enjoying an evening of dancing with the love of his life, delivering papers before the sun rose with his son by his side, or laughing with his grandson, John Busateri carried himself with integrity, strength, and love for those around him. He had a tender heart, and always treated others with respect and kindness. John worked hard throughout his lifetime, but enjoyed having a good time too. He leaves behind lessons in humility and compassion that will live on in the hearts of those who will so dearly miss him.
John J. Busateri died on September 13, 2009. John’s family includes his children, Jon (Ann Burbach) Busateri and Betty Busateri; grandchildren, John C (Jamie), Michael and Peter Busateri; sisters-in-law Bertha Busateri, JoAnne Busateri and Marion Busateri; nieces and nephews; as well as other relatives and friends. John was preceded in death by his beloved wife Sophie; his parents, Joseph and Ninfa Busateri; his brothers, Ted (Rose), Joseph, Tony (Emily), Charles, Frank (Marie), Carlo and Tom Busateri; and his sisters, Grace (Manuel) Garacci and Theresa Busateri. Visit with John’s family and friends on Thursday, Sept. 17 at the Funeral Home from 4:30 – 8:00 p.m. and Friday, Sept 18 from 10:00 a.m. until time of the Prayer Service at 10:30 a.m. Entombment Forest Home Cemetery. Arrangements by Suminski Family Funeral Homes, Niemann / Suminski. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory or sign the online guestbook.
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