Salavador ‘Sam’ Sanfillippo
Feb. 14, 1920 – April 22, 2013
Salavador “Sam” Sanfillippo, 93, passed away peacefully Monday, April 22, 2013, at 9:06 p.m. in his home, thanks to the devotion, love and care by his daughter, Ellie, surrounded by his loved ones as he always wished. Sam was born Feb. 14, 1920, in Waukesha. His mother and father arrived in this country from Palermo, Sicily, when they were 12 years old.
Sam started in the funeral business in 1941 at the Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science in Milwaukee, pursuing his degree until he was drafted into the United States Army in 1942. Sam had a very interesting and impressive past in the Army and entered the service at Fort Sheridan, Ill., on March 27, 1942. Sam received special training at Fitzimmons General Hospital in Denver, Colo., as a male nurse and received a degree as a surgical technician during the Invasion of North Africa, landing in Casa Blanca in 1943. He also flew into the skies of Tunisia and then invaded Sicily, the country of his parents’ birth. From Sicily, he landed at the tip of the boot for the invasion of Italy. After his mission in Italy and time in Naples, he went to Ireland and then to England to prepare for the invasion of Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944, D-Day. He was also involved in taking over the second largest bridge in Holland, The Nijmegen Bridge, on Sept. 17, 1944, across the Moss Wood Canal.
Under the leadership of General James M. Gavin, the 82nd Airborne continued to engage in the Battle of the Bulge but sustained many losses. They broke through the German Siegfried line in the spring offensive. Sam, a part of the 82nd, was the first to March through the City of Cologne. It was responsible for capturing the German 21st Army Division of 145,000 German soldiers and stopped Von Rundstedt in Belgium. Sam was awarded the Purple Heart five times for being wounded on the battlefield. He was involved in seven major battles. He also received the bronze star for being responsible for the return of 295 wounded veterans to their loved ones. The 82nd Airborne was awarded the Netherland’s highest decoration, the Royal Order of Wilham Nassau, thus being the first foreign unit to receive such a high honor.
After the service, Sam married Patricia Butler in the University Chapel in 1946. They raised their two lovely daughters, Melanie and Ellie, in Madison.
Sam started working for Ed Lawrence of Fitch Lawrence Funeral Home in 1953. Mr.
Lawrence joined Deming Fitch in the funeral business in 1910.
Ed and his wife, Salma, took Sam in and treated him like their own. Working very hard, Sam soon became a partner in the business. Patricia assisted Sam in the operation of Fitch Lawrence Sanfillippo Funeral Home. Sam and Patricia decided to sell the establishment to Bob Cress and his family in 1998. In 1999, Sam received a citation from Fred A. Risser, president of the Senate. It commemorated the 149 years of business service provided to the Madison community by Fitch Lawrence Sanfillippo Funeral Home.
Sam, also an avid Badgers fan, was a sportsman like no other.
Over the course of Sam’s life, Sam enjoyed countless hunting and fishing trips. Fishing his way to becoming a legendary angler, Sam was eventually inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame. His unique 3,000-pluspiece exhibit of his hunting and fishing conquests is still admired to this day.
Sam is survived by his daughters, Melanie (Fred) Petrie of Milwaukee and Ellie Sanfillippo-Ketelsen of Madison; five grandchildren, Sam (Becca) Ketelsen, Sarah (Nick Case), Jon (Kelsey) Petrie, Michael and Stephen (Joree) Ketelsen; and 11 great-grandchildren, Zak, Hailey, Ellah, Abbi, Samuel, Camdyn, Lucas, Elijah, Tessa, Logan and Beckham. He is further survived by his sister, Mary Sanfillippo of Oconomowoc; and many other admirers, relatives and friends.
Sam was predeceased by his wife, Pat; and his other brothers and sisters.
A visitation was Monday, April 29, at the Cress Center. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Tuesday, April 30, at St.
Bernard Catholic Church in Middleton with Monsignor Douglas Dushack presiding. Burial followed at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery.
“Dad, all that you left behind will forever keep your memory alive. May you rest in peace, fishing on calm waters, reuniting with loved ones and comrades and catching those infamous mounters. We love you!”