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Joseph Muffoletto

October 28, 1922 February 15, 2017
Joseph Muffoletto
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Obituary for Joseph Muffoletto

Joseph Muffoletto was born in Gratteri, a small town in Sicily in 1922. He grew up in poverty during the Great Depression and began working full time on a farm at the age of 11. When he was 17 years of age he was conscripted into the Italian army and stationed first in Rome, then near Monte Cassino, where he rose to the rank of Field Sergeant responsible for food ordnance. He was heard to say in later life that he still knew the ingredients in a loaf of bread. As he grew to understand the meaning of Italy’s alliance with Germany he searched for a means to connect with Allied forces. In 1941 his unit was dispatched to Thessalonica, Greece where he learned the Greek language and grew to love and admire the Greek people.

It was this growing admiration and affection that inspired him to make a significant and courageous life-changing decision. When the Italian forces in Greece came under German command, Joseph and his squadron were transferred to the infantry and subsequently ordered to fire on civilians in a Greek village. He led his men in refusing to carry out this order, and the entire squadron was sent to a German POW camp where they experienced severe punishments. Many of the men died in the camp. In 1944-45, Joseph and the remaining Italian soldiers escaped the camp and made their way on foot to Italy where they encountered a British army unit, which they subsequently joined. On their nearly 1,000 mile trek from Greece to Italy, they were aided by the Greek people who knew of their refusal to fire on the villagers.

The British not only accepted the bedraggled group of Italians, but they used their Italian language skills in the final year of the war. Joseph’s contributions were recognized by the Allied Forces through a citation from Field Marshall H.R. Alexander, Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theatre. The citation recognized Joseph’s role as “a member of the Italian Armed Forces who fought with the Allied Armies for the liberation of Italy and who is commended for his service under the allied command and for his contribution to the cause of freedom.”

Joseph kept this citation neatly folded in his wallet for more than 50 years, never discussing it, until his then 4th grade granddaughter, Annie did a class history report and asked him what he had done during World War II.

After emigrating to the United States in 1954 with his wife and daughter, Joseph apprenticed as a plumber and subsequently launched his own business, eventually securing a major contract as a plumbing installer with Sears. He also worked for the Village of Melrose Park.

“My dad was the hardest working person I’ve ever known,” said his daughter, Sarina Butler. “But he also was a man who remembered his own hardships and tried to help others – family members, friends, even virtual strangers. He used to say that he felt blessed by God and blessings had to be shared.”

He was the beloved husband of the late Anna nee Rinchiuso; loving father of Sarina (the late James) Butler; cherished grandfather of Anne Butler and Laura Butler (James Jaffe); dear brother of the late Michele (the late Teresa), Luciano (the late Antonia), Giuseppina (the late Antonino) Mogavero and Giacomo (the late Anna) Muffoletto; fond uncle and friend of many; devoted son of the late Pietro and Rosaria nee Sapienza Muffoletto. Visitation Sunday 3 to 8 p.m. at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St., Oak Park. Prayers 9:15 a.m. Monday to St. Luke Church for Mass at 10 a.m. Entombment Queen of Heaven Cemetery.

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Previous Events

Visitation

Sunday

19

Feb

3:00 PM 2/19/2017 3:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 2/19/2017 8:00:00 PM
Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home

203 South Marion Street
Oak Park, IL 60302

Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home
203 South Marion Street Oak Park 60302 IL
United States

Funeral Mass

Monday

20

Feb

10:00 AM 2/20/2017 10:00:00 AM - 11:00 AM 2/20/2017 11:00:00 AM
St. Luke Church

7600 Lake St.
River Forest, IL 60305

Prayers at funeral home 9:15 a.m.

St. Luke Church
7600 Lake St. River Forest 60305 IL
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Queen of Heaven Cemetery Final Resting Place

1400 S Wolf Rd
Hillside, IL 60162

1400 S Wolf Rd Hillside 60162 IL
United States
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