FITCHBURG- Ben Scalissi, 89, of Fitchburg, passed away peacefully on October 14 at Meriter Hospital after a valiant battle with congestive heart failure. He was surrounded by his loving family.
Ben was born in Madison on June 29, 1924, to the late Giuseppe and Anna (Di Gregorio) Scalissi, immigrants from Sicily. He grew up in the close-knit Greenbush neighborhood, home to many Sicilian immigrants. He attended Central High School in Madison. While serving in the South Pacific in WWII, he received the Bronze Star. Shortly after his return to Madison in December 1945, he met the love of his life, Donna Jean Steckler, in 1946. They were married on June 28, 1947. They bought a home in Fitchburg in 1957 and created a beautiful place, filled with love and memories, that has been the family home for 56 years. Ben was a hard-working laborer. During his career as a laborer, he worked for Pre-Cast Concrete, Cepek Construction and Madsen Construction. He was a very handy, intelligent man that delighted in helping his family and friends through his building, repairing, and artistic talents. He was also a gifted, self-taught musician, teaching himself to play piano, saxophone, violin and the string bass, which was his specialty. For 17 years, he played bass and sang in The Harmony Guys (also known as Benny and the Boys), a Madison band regularly featured at local taverns and restaurants. In his senior years, Ben was often called upon to sing as a guest artist at local and regional venues. Even at age 88, he would bring audiences to their feet with his wonderful voice and spirited performances. Ben and his family also enjoyed camping, fishing and boating, and lovingly maintained a cottage at Lake George in Portage for 27 years. Ben enjoyed spending time with his family, particularly his 3 grandchildren, whom he loved to spoil with gifts, time and love. In 2005 and 2008, Ben was able to visit the birthplace of his parents in Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily. During these visits, Ben was able to forge meaningful friendships with his relatives in Sicily. On September 8, 2012, Ben had the privilege to visit Washington D.C. as an honored World War II veteran on the Badger Honor Flight, and finally received the celebrated homecoming he deserved. Ben was a long-time member of the Laborer's Union Local 464, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1318, and a proud member of the Italian Workman's Club. Ben was a member of St. James Church in Madison.
Ben is survived by his wife of 66 years, Donna Scalissi; two children, Ben (Jessica) Scalissi Jr and Joseph (Deb) Scalissi. He is also survived by 3 grandchildren, Tracie (Ben, Jr.) Biagio and Giovanna (Joe and Deb); 1 great-grandchild, Landon; and many nieces and nephews. Ben was preceded in death by his parents Giuseppe Scalissi and Anna (Di Gregorio) Scalissi; his 6 siblings: John Scalissi, Anthony Scalissi, Mary Gerry, Pete Scalissi, Joseph Scalissi and Josie Edison. He was also preceded in death by three grandchildren: Triplets Matthew, Mark and Luke, and one great-grandchild, Brayden.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at GOOD SHEPHERD CATHOLIC PARISH at the ST. JAMES CHURCH, 1128 St. James Ct., Madison, at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, with Monsignor Dushack presiding. Visitation will be held at the church from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service on Friday.
Ben was loved by everyone who knew him. His compassion, patience, understanding and giving personality will be forever treasured by his family. Special thanks to the staff of the eleventh floor cardio-vascular unit at Meriter Hospital and staff at Wisconsin Heart.
Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.
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