obit template2018-11-29T12:10:12+00:00

Peter P.

Peter Patrick Cefalu, born on February 25, 1948 in West Allis Wisconsin, died unexpectedly and went to the great speed skating oval in the sky on April 27, 2020. Loyal husband to Deborah. Proud father of Amanda (Peter) and Marc. Fun and loving grandfather to Isabella and Salvatore.

Pete started speedskating at a very young age. He joined the West Allis Speed Skating Club and was coached by Lyle LeBombard, who was a treasured friend and mentor. During his skating career he won six National Outdoor and one National Indoor Championships. He also set nine National Outdoor and two National Indoor records. Pete was inducted to the National Speedskating Hall of Fame on May 17, 1986.

He was a teacher, trucker, unionist, proud member of Teamsters Local 344 and Local 200. Pete worked tirelessly for his fellow union members and retirees. A significant part of his life was his support of unions and working people. Pete helped create the Wisconsin-Milwaukee SE Committee to Protect Pensions, a group he enjoyed meeting with regularly. He traveled to Washington D.C. multiple times to lobby on their behalf and promote the cause of retirement security. Pete was a grassroots political activist and regularly contributed his time and effort to door-to-door canvassing, Get Out the Vote (GOTV), and canvass training. Peter cared about people and fought for equality and justice. And most recently, he was extremely proud to work as a medical courier at MedSpeed supporting the integral work of our health care system.

Pete was a fun guy to be around. He was a dedicated Wisconsin sports fan, always ready to watch a game. He always had a joke to tell, good or bad. You could not drive a few blocks with Pete without hearing him talk about every Ford Mustang along the way and whether or not it had a V-8 engine. He also loved boating and always had a great story about the Muskie he almost caught. He will be missed dearly.

Pete is also survived by additional family members and many dear friends. Predeceased by his parents, Sam and Rose Cefalu of West Allis. Donations in his memory may be made to the American Heart Association, the ACLU, or a charity of your choice. His family will host a celebration of Pete’s life later this year.


  1. Greg West May 1, 2020 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I knew Pete most of my life, skated with him, very sorry to hear of his passing.. Deepest condolences to his family.

  2. Jeff Hrdlicka May 2, 2020 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Good friend. He sure loved his sports. Always put the other guy first. Except for his bad jokes, I’ll miss him.

    • Dave Hays May 3, 2020 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      Pete was a great guy. We worked together for many years. But I really got to know Pete playing softball for a long time. He was an absolute joy to be around. You never knew what he might say next. We went to Brewers games for the past 2 years after not seeing each other for a few years. But Pete never changed he was the same fun loving guy as always. He will truly be missed. I would like to offer my sympathy to the entire Cefalu family.

  3. Barbara Halverson Velez May 3, 2020 at 9:58 am - Reply

    I went to elementary, middle and high school with Pete. He taught me how to skate when we were in 5th grade. I remember his devoted parents. I haven’t seen him in years, however, he and I shared much in common, a commitment to social justice, the ACLU, one voice representation and more. I am very, very sad to learn of his passing. My deepest condolences to you, Deb, and your family. He was one of the good guys. .

  4. james hardie May 3, 2020 at 10:12 am - Reply


    james hardie, i was pete”s brother in law, i went to high school with him. a nice man. great athelete and good family man. he married my sister . my sympathies to deb and family. he will
    be missed

  5. Patrick Tappa May 3, 2020 at 10:41 am - Reply

    I met and worked for many years with Pete at UPS. His kindness and generosity extended to all and Pete was everyone’s friend, always giving of himself for others benefit. Easily one of the finest men I ever knew. My heart goes out to Deb, Amanda and Marc, his treasured family. He will also be greatly missed by all he touched in his union family. Rest easy “chief”.

  6. Bernard Jene May 3, 2020 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Pete was our neighbor the past 15 years. Always a smile and pleasant comment on meeting. This time of year he could be found working on the mustang or his boat on the condo grounds. One day he knocked on our door and said he had locked himself out. Could he climb on our 3d floor balcony porch rail and get on to his? I told him “Pete, I’m dumb enough to try that but not dumb enough to let you do it. If you fall there will be no place I could hide from your wife”. After some second’s he agreed and we drove to a storage locker to get a spare key. I’m sure the community at large will treasure and remember the efforts he put forth and the ideals he stood for. Put the top down and ride in peace Pete. Our sympathy to Deb and family and friends.
    Bernie and Nancy Jene

  7. Chris Friedbacher May 3, 2020 at 11:38 am - Reply

    With a heavy heart my sincere condolences to Pete’s Family. Pete was a dear friend from our days of playing Ball together at McKinley play ground in West Allis.
    We always had fun arguing who was best. Pete would say, Hank Aaron, I would say, Eddie Mathews. I reconnected with Pete at The Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions. He was A Great Warrior! I will deeply miss Him !

  8. David John May 3, 2020 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    I remember Pete from our days on the track team at Central. He was always cheerful and friendly. I new him only briefly, but remember him to this day.Condolences to Debbie.

  9. Jackie Mueller Egelhoff May 3, 2020 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Our deepest sympathy to the family. Pete was a dear friend. Our families were in West Allis Skate Club
    Where we had so many fun,great times with Pete.
    He loved to skate and was great at it.He will be missed.

    Jackie Mueller Egelhoff ,Barb Mueller and Marion Mueller

  10. Karin L. White May 3, 2020 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Pete and I only recently re-connected on Facebook, and I enjoyed bantering there with him. He was in my brother’s graduating class from West Allis Central, in 1966, one year behind me. This is a shock to me, and I know his friends and family will miss him terribly. I know I will. Rest in peace, Pete.

  11. Kathy & Jeff Kildow May 3, 2020 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    I first knew Pete in high school when he played baseball with my now husband Jeff and his brother Greg.They played together for several years and Pete was
    especially good friends with Greg. As a result, in 1972,when Jeff and I were going to move to Beirut Lebanon for his job, Pete was invited to my parents house in West Allis.
    for a going away party for us. I had invited my best friend Debby Hardie to that party as well. Pete and Debby met at that party and we all know the ending to that story!
    My heart breaks for Deb and her family.It is always terrible to lose a loved one but it is especially difficult when that death comes so unexpectedly. Pete was a happy,fun loving guy, and will be remembered as such by all who knew him.

    Our deepest sympathy to the Cefalu Family.

  12. Les Barczewski May 3, 2020 at 10:36 pm - Reply


    Pete was a hero to me. We won several national speed skating championships together as members of the West Allis Speed Skating Club. As a kid, I would ride my bike to McCarty Park to watch his baseball games. Although I have not seen him in years, I always remembered his quick smile and larger than life persona.
    You will forever be in my heart, champ

  13. Tom Bohte May 4, 2020 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    I grew up playing all the sports and activities available at McKinley playground in West Allis.Pete was right there with me.Mckinley also had an ice rink but way too small for Pete’s powerful strides.He was one of the good guys and I was shocked and saddened to hear of his passing.Rest in peace.

  14. Dale Nook May 4, 2020 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Pete Cefalu was a founding core member of GRSS (Grass Roots South Shore). Pete was always available daily if circumstances dictated . This included collecting signatures for Scott Walker’s Recall and going to Madison to protest Act 10. He able to attend Milwaukee County Board meetings to advocate for liberal issues. Pete’s main contribution involved door to door canvassing doing a number of walk lists in a given day. He even would go out in the darkness on GOTV ( get out the vote). Recently Pete stepped up to be a canvass trainer for the 2018 midterm GOTV effort.
    He was a frequent contributor to Liberal Radio AM 1510 and was often a guest on the shows. Pete exemplified grass roots organizing at its best always available to do the hard work and never looking for the limelight.
    A big part of Pete’s life was his support of unions as a activist for the Teamster Union. He most recently went to Washington DC to lobby on behalf of Teamster pensions. While there he thanked Mitt Romney for his vote.

  15. Bob Amsden May 4, 2020 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    I’ve known Pete for over 35 years as a Teamster. He was one of my original Committee members who helped me start the Wisconsin/Milwaukee committee to protect pensions. We traveled together fighting for our retirement savings from Cedar Rapids Iowa to Columbus Ohio and Washington DC. I’ll miss his almost daily phone calls about politics and politicians. I’ll always remember his voice on 1510 wrrd radio, giving the politicians his straight forward message. Thanks for your strong support and help that you gave us Pete.
    Your friend forever,
    Bob Amsden

  16. Dick Schuenke May 4, 2020 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    I met Pete over 40 years ago at UPS and we have been friends ever since. Pete is one of the greatest guys I have ever known and we shared so many good times together. My best and sometimes funniest memories include fishing for musky, Brewers and Bucks games and our weekly discussions of politics and sports. I always respected Pete’s opinion and truly enjoyed his sense of humor and good nature. I will surely miss my buddy. My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy to Debbie and family.

  17. Kristin Kildow May 4, 2020 at 7:08 pm - Reply


    I am so sorry to hear about Pete. When Kathy let me know Deb, I was filled with such sadness. You are truly one of the most amazing people I know, and although I never had the chance to meet Pete directly, I know how much he means to you and your family. So many years together and so much love – a beautiful family you created and nurtured. I realize nothing I can say will take away the shock and pain, but know that I understand your loss. I grieve with you and I hold all of you up in my prayers. Much love is being sent to all of you.

  18. Christine Sinicki May 4, 2020 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    I’m m do very sorry to hear of Pete’s passing. I only got to know him the last few years but always appreciated his wisdom, advice and friendship. Heaven has welcomed another angel RIP Pete.

  19. Jeff Edwards May 4, 2020 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    I watched Pete for many years in skating before we were both Seniors. I was lucky enough to skate against Pete just before he retired. He was an outstanding competitor. I loved his spirit and passion for speed skating. I didn’t know him well, but I do remember that I liked him. My condolence to his family. He will be remembered fondly by a generation of speed skaters.

  20. Jeff Dellutri May 4, 2020 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Mr. Cefalu was my 6th grade social studies teacher. I’m pretty sure it was in 1971-72. I saw his photo and recognized him immediately.

    He had me come in early one day, before the school day started, to make sure I got caught up. We had moved to the area and started the school year about a week late. I was struck that someone who didn’t even know me would take the time out of his day to get me situated. That always stuck with me. My family moved again the next year, so I only had him in 6th grade, but I never forgot him. I had no idea he was a speed skater! Wow!

  21. Ralf & Karen May 5, 2020 at 10:02 am - Reply

    We’re so sorry to hear about Pete’s unexpected passing. When I moved to the US and found my new home in St. Francis, WI, back in 2012, I met Pete for the first time in our community gym at Parkshore. We started to interact and exchanged wonderful conversations. Pete was a remarkable human being and always friendly and kind. We’ll miss him very much.

    Ralf and Karen

  22. Bill Heinkel May 8, 2020 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Pete and I not only skated together for the West Allis SC, but played football and basketball against eachother in college and the Langsdorf league for years. We spent many hours training together and trying to keep up with older skaters at practice under coach Lyle Lebombard. Despite being competitors, he always treated me as a friend. He was a talented and fierce competitor. When the race was over, back to being buddies again. I will miss Pete very much and will always remember all the great times we had together.

  23. Earl Jewett February 23, 2021 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    I met Pete at Carroll College. I was pleasantly surprised when we met again forty-one years later. I was actually surprised Pete remembered me, but that’s Pete. It was 2011 and we were both protesting Act 10 at the Wisconsin State Capitol. While Pete wasn’t directly impacted by Act 10, he realized it would negatively impact thousands of public workers, and consequently, negatively impact our state. But that’s Pete–always caring, always doing what he could to help others. Pete, thanks for being a person everyone loves. May the ice always be fast.

  24. Nancy Dull April 24, 2021 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    I’m in shock, learning of “Mr Cefalu’s” crossing over. I was a student of his in the 70s, and was touched by his kind heart. We(students) were saddened when he left our school, because we girls were (OK maybe I was) “in love” with our gorgeous, friendly, kindhearted teacher.

    We knew he moved to Milwaukee, so when we went to a Brewer game, we looked him up in the phone book.
    We didnt stop there, we would actually call him from the payphone at County Stadium every time we went.

    I know it doesn’t surprise anyone when I say how gracious he was to his former students “bothering” him at home.

    To his precious family, I am so sorry for your heartache. I see that he crossed over a year ago, but I hope and pray 🙏you are continually healing. May God’s grace fill your heart.
    Sending Healing Love💚 Peace💗 & Prayers🙏

    Nancy (Sayers) Dull

  25. John DeStefanis August 15, 2022 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    My dear cousin Pete was one in a million. We were the same age, and although we kind of lost contact with one another while we were both pursuing careers and raising families, we reconnected in recent years and talked every few days or so, and got together just about every week. We could talk to one another and truly communicate as in few relationships in life. I miss him and think of him all the time.

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