Samuel J. ĎSlimí Ricotta

March 25, 1914 Ė Dec. 23, 2010

Samuel J. "Slim" Ricotta of Waukesha (formerly of Rochester, N.Y.) passed away peacefully Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010, at the age of 96. Sam was born in Rochester on March 25, 1914, the son of Joseph and Josephine (nee Barone) Ricotta. He was one of seven children. His parents were immigrants from Valledolmo, Sicily.
    Growing up, Sam was particularly proud of his accomplishments on the violin. He graduated from John Marshall High School in Rochester just as the Great Depression was starting. Unable to find a job, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and was part of the work force of young men in each state clearing land, planting trees and doing construction work to beautify the United States. His CCC camp was located at Harriman State Park, home of Bear Mountain, in southern New York, and while Sam was there, it was visited by then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Samís corps cleared forests of dead trees and built a dam there. He recalled the sleeping quarters as Army-type barracks heated only by a pot-bellied stove. Fifty years later, he particularly enjoyed attending reunions of "the CCC boys" in New York. He was especially proud of the monument erected in honor of the CCC in Letchworth State Park in New York. After his stint with the CCC, Sam eventually held a variety of jobs in Rochester and New York City, including being a stock boy in the garment district, working in a coal plant in Rochester and eventually as a clerk in a camera store, where he worked his way up to doing airbrushing of photographs. There he developed an interest in photography that would become a lifelong hobby. He later went to work for the Eastman Kodak Co., where he was employed in the marketing department as a color technician. Photos he worked on were displayed at Grand Central Station in New York City, among other places. His most challenging and interesting assignment was processing photographs from the U.S. moon landing. He had a creative eye in his personal photography and earned several awards for photos he entered in photographic salon competitions. He retired from Eastman Kodak. Sam was known as the family photographer, taking his camera everywhere. He particularly enjoyed printing the pictures in a variety of configurations and sizes. At one time he even had a darkroom in his basement. Sam was also a proud veteran of the U.S. Army. He volunteered for duty when World War II started and was sent to Officer Candidate School, where he earned the rank of second lieutenant. He was a military policeman at a prisoner of war camp at Fort Stewart, Ga. He also served in North Africa and Italy. Because of his height and thin build, he became known for the rest of his life to family and friends as "Slim."
    While stationed in Italy, he met a young Italian woman in Florence. He corresponded with her after his departure and eventually proposed to her by mail. She accepted, took a ship to the U.S. in January of 1947, and 10 days later, they were married.
    Slim will be remembered for his love of nature and travel and often combined the two in cross-country road trips to California and Arizona. He wintered in Tucson, Ariz., for several years, where he developed an interest in Native American arts and crafts. He had a green thumb and proudly grew several peach trees from pits. He also enjoyed hunting pheasants and, at one time, raised and bred champion AKC beagles. Slim lived his first 95 years in New York, leaving his hometown of Rochester to live for a few years in Corning, N.Y., to be closer to one of his daughters, then moving to Waukesha to be closer to another daughter. He often visited his third daughter in Pennsylvania.
    Sam is survived by his daughters, Suzanne "Cookie" (the late Marty) Frank of Waukesha, Jacqueline (Randy White) Ricotta of Newtown, Pa., and Lynne Ricotta of Corning; his grandchildren, Chadd (Effie) Frank and Brenton "B.J." Frank of Waukesha, Elizabeth (Tom) Lang of Chicago, David Ricotta (fiancee Jen Auchu) of Hornell, N.Y., Drew Lambert of Buffalo, N.Y., and Samuel and Jacob White of Newtown, Pa.; his great-grandchildren, Sofia and Anthony Frank of Waukesha and Emelia Lang of Chicago; along with many nieces, nephews and friends.
    Sam was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Anthony (Mary) Ricotta and Charles (Josephine) Ricotta; his sisters, Rose Ricotta, Mae Barone, Nita (Angelo) Cappello and Irene (Edward) Guariglia; his beloved sonin-law, Marty Frank; his nephews, Phil Barone and Rob Cappello; and his former wife, Donatella "Donna" Ricotta.
    A private service for Sam was held in Waukesha. The funeral Mass and the burial will be held in Rochester. Falvo Funeral Home is serving the family. For more information, please visit www.falvofh@yahoo.com.
    In lieu of flowers, memorials in Samís name are appreciated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 3333 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa, WI 53226; or to St. Mary Catholic Church, 225 S. Hartwell Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186.
    Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home is serving the family locally. For the online obituary or for cards of condolences, please visit www.WaukeshasFuneralHome.com.