Santina ‘Tina’ A. Garcia
MADISON, Wis. — Madison/Belleville — Santina “Tina” A. (Gianunzio) Garcia passed away on Thursday, August 29 at age 95. She was a long-time resident of Belleville who loved her family and this community.
Tina was raised in Iron Mountain Michigan, the thirteenth child born to Nunzio and Isabella (D’Alphonso) Gianunzio, immigrants from Capistrano, Italy. She was a joyous, active tomboy who loved to play baseball, ice skate and explore the northern woods with her brothers. After graduating early from high school in Iron Mountain, she moved to Madison and lived with her sister, Mickey, while working at the Oscar Meyer’s canning factory.
Shortly after she moved to Madison to stay with her sister, she met her husband Air Force Sergeant Oscar Garcia, at a dance at Truax Field. In her eyes, he was a dashing, brave soldier and theirs was a beautiful love story she liked to tell. They were married at Truax during World War II, which meant long separation. As a war bride, she moved back to Iron Mountain to help her family, as several of her brothers were serving overseas. Tina was a person who put family first in every way.
When Oscar made it back after V-J day, they reunited in Madison and raised four children: Paul (Solari), Ronald, Diane (Peters) and Kristine (Catalano). They built their family home together from the ground up on the east side of Madison. Always working side by side, Tina mixed the mortar for the basement and watched the children play in the yard while Oscar laid the bricks.
Tina was a hard worker who liked to be busy and kept at a job until she was 83. Her last job was wrapping meats full-time at Cub Foods. She loved people, enjoyed her co-workers and helping customers. Tina was always outgoing, friendly and generous with everyone. She saw the best in people and often brought out the best in them as well.
When Tina finally retired (under protest!), she and Oscar moved to Belleville to be closer to family. She cared for Oscar while he was ill. After he passed 10 years ago, she became more active in the community and attended the United Church of Christ Church in Belleville. She also joined the Belleville Kiwanis Club, always finding a way to contribute.
She was an excellent baker. Often baking large containers of cookies and stacks of apple pies, apple cake from apples picked in their backyard orchard. She frequently volunteered to bake brownies for homeless outreach in Madison. People would wait in line up to 30 minutes if they knew that Grandma Tina’s brownies were on the menu. She loved cooking huge meals for her extended family and hosted Tuesday night family dinners until it was too much for her capacity. Everyone loved those times of connection, but no one more than Tina herself.
Tina was generous, loving and always made her family feel safe and cared for. She babysat grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to their delight. She eagerly worked to make Christmas special every year, saving money throughout the year to make sure she could give gifts to all. She made her home available if family needed a place to stay while struggling or between jobs. She was known to slip some extra cash into someone’s pocket when they had a need, without expecting thanks or acknowledgment. In so many ways, Tina sought to help others around her.
She is preceded in death by her husband Oscar; her daughter Kristine Catalano; and her 12 brothers and sisters. She is survived by her son Paul (Solari), his wife Marcella and her son Ronald, his wife Daun, and her daughter Diane and her husband Jim Peters. She is also survived by 9 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. She will be missed deeply and remembered every day.
Tina lived a long, rich life. She demonstrated so much love, kindness, generosity, and positivity every day. She made a difference in the lives of so many who were lucky to know her.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 12, 2019, at the First United Church of Christ, 130 E. Church St., Belleville, WI with the Rev. Laura Kolden officiating. Inurnment will be in the Belleville Cemetery.
A gathering of relatives and friends will precede the memorial service from 10:00 a.m. until time of services on Thursday, September 12, 2019, at the First United Church of Christ in Belleville.
The Becker-Beal Funeral Home of Belleville is assisting the family.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to Agrace HospiceCare, Inc. as their nurses and staff provided excellent care for her during her final days.
Online memorial with guestbook available at www.bealfuneralhomes.com
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