Dr. Anthony "Tony" Michael Rizzi
November 24, 1932 – December 20, 2020
Dr. Anthony “Tony” Michael Rizzi, age 88, from Lee’s Summit, MO left his temporary home on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. A man who devoted his life to serving God, family, and country. The loss of his earthly presence is mourned, but we pray for his soul to get quickly to heaven.
Tony was born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, 1932 in a hospital in Elizabeth, NJ and raised in Kenilworth. His parents were Antonio and Erminia Rizzi. Tony had two brothers, Alfonso and Raymond, and two sisters, Rose and a twin of Alfonso who died as an infant. When Tony was 2 years old, Antonio, his father, died of heart failure.
Before Antonio died, he asked his sister, Sr. Lorenza of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida to pray for his son Tony. When Antonio died, Tony remembered receiving a letter from his Aunt, Sr. Lorenza, who promised she would be praying for him. Tony’s humble childhood was filled with memories of playing outside and lots of independence without having a father in the house. As a young boy living 15 miles from New York City with little supervision, he could have easily become involved in gang activity. By Divine providence and the power of Sr. Lorenza’s intercessory prayer, Tony at age 10 began walking two miles to Sunday mass alone. He played baseball, learned how to box, and participated in other social activities organized by a Catholic priest. Tony said he was similar to Fr. O’Malley in the movie, “The Bells of St. Mary’s”. Tony attended grade school in Kenilworth and High School in Springfield, NJ at Springfield Regional High. In December of 1952, after high school and working at Baker and Tailor Book Company, Tony decided to enter the United States Air Force (USAF) because of the Korean War. After basic training, his preparation for Korea included: technical training in airborne radio operations and electronic counter measures at Keesler AFB, Mississippi; B-29 combat crew training at Randolph AFB, Texas; and embarkation processing to Korea at Travis AFB, California.
Just as he was ready to board a ship to go to Korea, the Korean War ended. Consequently he was sent to Griffiss AFB, NY where he was involved in Air Defense evaluations over the Canadian Border. Tony stayed in New York until February of 1954 when he was ordered to Tachikawa AFB, Japan. Tachikawa is just a short train ride from Tokyo, Japan. It was at this time that Tony said his life began. Around August of 1955 he met his wife, Ann, in the AFB Catholic Choir. They met, became close friends, and were engaged. The engagement was sealed with a church “Solemn Engagement”. Ann was wistfully told, ‘“we” should have eight children,’ and Ann has her own story to tell about that. Tony left Japan on New Year’s Eve of 1956. He immediately began working as a food delivery truck driver with about five different routes and applying for college. He drove to Glassboro College where he took the entrance test and then waited for the results with his good friend, Ann’s father. Meanwhile he was invited to return to the USAF with his most recent rank of SSGT within 90 days. By the 89th day he had not heard about the test results, so he re-enlisted. On the 90th day he found out the good results of his entrance test. However, it was too late to attend the college, so he reported to Keesler AFB for Radar Electronics Training.
On September 2, 1957 Ann & Tony were married. During the years of 1959-1964, Ann and Tony had 7 children in less than 5 years - Anthony, Maria, Valerie, Domenic, Raymond, Cabrina, and Anna Mary. Shortly after in 1968, Lorenzo was born.
After their marriage, Tony finished electronics training and entered training to be an instructor. Upon completion of training, he taught electronics and radar systems until the end of 1964. He said his students did very well. During this time Tony was doing college work receiving his B.S. in 1962 and his M.S. in August 1964. While completing his degrees, he applied and was accepted to enter Officers Training School (OTS) in August of 1964. His first assignment as an Officer was to Offutt AFB, in Belleview, Nebraska. There he worked in a highly classified area that still has not been declassified. Capt. Rizzi used his intellectual skills in Applied Mathematics in support of worldwide reconnaissance, command, and control, and combat support critical to war fighting and national leadership during the Vietnam War and in Space.
Tony worked as a mathematician computer scientist. His work led to an appointment for a Ph.D. in Operations Research, large scale applied math with management and scientific applications, at Purdue University. After his graduation, the family was off to Richards-Gebaur AFB in Belton, MO. There, Tony was involved in the Operations Research which applied to the world-wide USAF Communications System. After three and a half years Tony was offered a position in Operations Research in the Pentagon. This was a great assignment but living expenses were too high. Tony decided to retire in the KC area effective Jan. 1, 1974.
Tony consulted for about a year until he was offered a position at Peru State College in Peru, Nebraska. Two years later he began teaching at Central Missouri State, now The University of Central Missouri. He retired in August 1999 as Professor Emeritus in Industrial Management. Meanwhile he taught part time at several schools. The final school was Central Michigan University where he taught and managed the program until the school left the KC area in 2005. Since then, he remained fully retired. He was engaged in: Knights and Ladies of The Holy Sepulchre, Order of Secular Franciscans, The Serra Club, Military Officers Order Association (MOOA), Tabernacle Society and others. During his military career he was active in: The Legion of Mary, The Holy Name Society and The Catholic Men’s Group. In both The Holy Name Society and The Catholic Men’s Group he served terms as President and as Vice President. On a personal basis, Tony advised enlisted men with family financial affairs. Tony loved his entire family and enjoyed being with them. As the father of eight children, 25 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He was loved by many. His 25 grandchildren affectionately called him “Nonno”. He cherished each child deeply as if they were the only one. Most of all, Tony Loved God and his wife, Ann, with all his heart and all of his being. Praise the Lord for Tony's life. He is survived by Dr. Ann Rizzi, wife of 63 years, their eight children, 25 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Children: Dr. Anthony (Susan) Rizzi, Mrs. Maria Reasor, Dr. Valerie (Gordon) Bell, Mr. Domenic (René) Rizzi, Dr. Raymond Rizzi (fiancé –Ruby Iniguez), Mrs. Cabrina (Mark) Magee, Miss Anna Mary Rizzi, & Dr. Lorenzo (Dawn) Rizzi. Grandchildren: Dr. Brooke (Matt) Zak, Dr. Danielle (Gentry) Craig, Miss Kelsey Bell, Miss Christiana Reasor, Miss Gabriella Rizzi, Miss Leah Bell, Miss Ann Marie Reasor, Mr. Michael Rizzi, Mr. Giuseppe Rizzi, Miss Morgan Magee, Mr. Johnathan Rizzi, Mr. Andrew Reasor, Miss Marissa Bell, Miss Kateri Rizzi, Mr. Christopher Rizzi, Mr. Antonio Rizzi, Miss Marianna Magee, Mr. Nicolo Rizzi, Miss Serena Rizzi, Mr. Joseph Rizzi, Mr. Gianni Rizzi, Mr. Luca Bell, Miss Thomasina Rizzi, Miss Mariella Magee, & Miss Julia Rizzi. Recently born great grandchildren: Leonardo Zak and Amelia Rae Craig.
Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, there will be no visitation. A private funeral service for family only will be held on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Independence, MO. A memorial mass and remembrance for friends and extended family will be held in the spring with date and time to be announced. Memorial contributions may be made to the Institute for Advanced Physics, P.O. Box 15030, Baton Rouge, LA 70895, http://iapweb.org/store/#donate.
Dr. Anthony "Tony" Michael Rizzi
December 31, 2020
I had the great privilege of not only meeting Dr. Rizzi and his lovely bride, but actually sitting down together for a long conversation about faith and life while celebrating one of Domenic and Rene’s children’s graduations (I believe). They received me as if I were a long-awaited friend, listening intently and sincerely caring about me and what I had to share. I remember how warm their smiles were, how their eyes sparkled when they talked, and how I felt that I was in the presence of two people who were beautiful examples of Christ’s love poured out to not only their family and friends, but a virtual stranger. I have also never forgotten how warmly they received me and my son at a Rosary group. I will never forget the example they were to me of faithfulness and Christian hospitality; I truly felt special when I was with them. My heartfelt prayers are with Dr. Rizzi’s precious wife, all of their family and friends, and trust that Christ’s Perpetual Light shines brightly upon him.
December 29, 2020
Here’s a great picture of my dad doing what he loved to do. Watching his adult children having fun with our kids. We were at my nephew Antonio’s birthday party at a bowling alley having a great time and I snapped this picture of my dad just smiling and observing. Love you Dad!
December 23, 2020
Mr. Tony was truly a wonderful man .Mrs.Ann you and your family are in my prayers .Kristi Harris