Surrounded by his loving family at home, William “Bill” M. Ruffalo, 98, went to a better place Tuesday afternoon. Bill was born in Wautoma, Wisconsin on August 18, 1919, and was the son of the late Salvatore and Theresa (Nee: Infusino) Ruffalo. He was number 12 of 17 children in the family.
Bill spent his early years in Wautoma, before following his older brothers to Racine. At Racine’s Polish Hall he met Rose A. Brusha, and they married on April 29, 1950.
Bill was employed by Andis Company for twenty-five years and St. Monica’s Senior Citizen Home for fourteen years. Following retirement, Bill took great enjoyment in landscaping the homes of North Bay for many years, and mowed his last lawn on Labor Day, 2017.
Bill was a proud WWII Army Veteran, serving from 1941-1945 in Venezuela, France and Germany. He was extremely grateful to be able to participate in a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight in 2011, and counted the heroes welcome home as one of the highlights of his senior years.
Active his entire life, Bill enjoyed ballroom dancing, square dancing with the Circle 8 Club, camping, bocce and was always up for a casino trip or a round of cribbage. He was a longtime member of Sacred Heart Church and the VFW Post 9948. Proud of his Italian heritage, Bill was a prominent member of Roma Lodge where he was called “Uncle Bill”. Above all else, Bill enjoyed spending time with his family. He reveled in presiding over family spaghetti dinners every Monday night.
Bill is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Rose; his children, Gail Widmar, Robin (Fred) Schmidt, and William (Billy) Ruffalo, Jr.; his grandchildren, Kelly (Tim Dominguez) Crenshaw, Ben Crenshaw, both of Racine, Matt (Kate) Schmidt of Shorewood, WI, Mike (Katie) Schmidt of Elm Grove, WI, Brandon (Khara) Schmidt of Tampa, FL, and Lisa Wilkerson of Mt. Juliet, TN; his great grandchildren, Aubree (Kip Trumpulis) Casio, Delainee Dominguez, Ella, Hans, Bennett, Lauren, Mason and Cole Schmidt, Anthony, Isaiah, Julia, Halle and Kainoa Wilkerson; great-great granddaughter Harper Trumpulis.
He is further survived by his sister Rose Biagioni of Berkely, IL; sister-in-law Julie Ruffalo of Racine; many nieces, nephews, relatives and good friends; dear friends Dave and Romie Gallo.
Bill was preceded in death by his brothers and sisters Carmella Ruffalo, Charles (Mary) Ruffalo, James (Rose) Ruffalo, George (Susie) Ruffalo, Sammy (Virginia) Ruffalo, Carmella (John) Liddi, Susie (Elliot) Bloomquist, Louie (Bernice) Ruffalo, Irene Ruffalo, Mary (Nello) Copen, Frank (Betty) Ruffalo, Irene (Frank) Kreplan, Josephine (Oliver) Twist, Mamie (Ector) DeLuca and Emil Ruffalo; brothers and sisters-in-laws Leo Biagioni, Katie (John) Oronato, Frank (Francis) Brusha, Sam Brusha, Dorothy (Henry) Geisler, Oscar (Lucille) Brusha, Christina Rice, Christie (Phyllis) Brusha, and Ann Brusha.
Bill was truly one of a kind. We’ll miss him.
Entombment with Full Military Honors will be held on Tuesday at Holy Cross Garden Mausoleum. Relatives and friends may meet with the family Tuesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. with a celebratory Mass at 11 a.m. Roma Lodge Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, Memorials to Sacred Heart Catholic Church are suggested.
The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Diane Turner and the entire staff of Wheaton Franciscan Hospital (especially Melissa) for their wonderful and caring support during a very difficult time.
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