Anthony "Tony" Samuel Giudicessi
September 30, 1923 – October 2, 2019
Tony Giudicessi (1923-2019)
Tony Giudicessi died on October 2, 2019, two days after his 96th birthday, fulfilled by a long life of service to his family, country, and faith.
Born in Des Moines, Anthony Samuel Giudicessi was the son of Italian immigrants Francesco (Frank) and Grazia (Grace). His parents relocated to a welcoming Iowa from the Terravecchia area in the early 1900s.
His father died when Tony was two years old, leaving Grace as a single parent raising Tony and his six older siblings, Charles, Gloria, Ann, James, Mike, and John, in a bilingual home on Jackson Street on the south side of Des Moines. Tony skipped grades at St. Anthony’s School, worked before the age of 16 at the neighborhood Graziano’s market to help his family, and graduated from Dowling High School in 1940 at age 16. Tony attended Drake University and left college after one year to earn money to support his mother. He later studied accounting at AIB and received a business school degree.
At the encouragement of his mother, he and several brothers enlisted in the military, with Tony serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He entered active service in January 1943, as a 19-year-old, 105-pound private, and received his honorable discharge in December 1945, as a Staff Sergeant.
Tony worked in a hospital dispensary in Honolulu for 30 months and received the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon and Good Conduct Medal.
He returned to Des Moines and began employment at the John Deere Des Moines Works in May 1948.
Tony met Dorothy Staley, an Indianola girl introduced to him by his brother Charlie, and they married at St. Anthony’s Church in June 1948.
Tony and Dorothy embraced life together in the full spirit of the times. They started their family with the birth of son Richard and purchased their first home, on Filmore Street on the East side.
To supplement the family income, Tony joined a U.S. Naval Reserve unit. In one of the few unforeseen moves in his career, Tony’s unit was activated in August 1950, during the Korean conflict, and he served in active duty at Portsmouth, Virginia.
He then earned his second honorable discharge, received a $79.68 separation travel allowance, and returned to Dorothy having been a GI in both the Army and the Navy.
Tony rejoined John Deere and he and Dorothy soon welcomed their second son, Michael, and moved to a new home in the Oak Park neighborhood of north Des Moines. There they met lifelong friends Ramona and Harold Adams.
This move allowed Tony to be closer to the John Deere plant, where he worked 35 years before retiring. He started as a clerk, served many years in the data-processing department, where he rose to manage one of the earliest and largest IBM computer installations in central Iowa, and ended his career as a buyer in purchasing.
Tony devoted long hours to his job and took great pride in the green and yellow.
He also knew the value of an employer that provided benefits and retirement security that looked beyond a person’s days on the job—36 years after he retired, Deere & Company continued to provide Tony a generous monthly retirement payment and full medical benefits.
And, many of Tony’s lasting friendships, none better than that of Ed Filby, were forged at John Deere.
Dorothy and Tony used savings to build a home in Urbandale, where they moved in 1984. They enjoyed worshiping as members of St. Pius X Catholic Church. They hosted family holidays with their children and grandchildren, made special when Dorothy would prepare pasta dishes using recipes taught to her by Grace. There they made new friends with next-door neighbors Clarice and Ron Rubek.
As Dorothy’s health declined in 2009, she and Tony moved to the Deerfield Retirement Community. Dorothy died in September 2012 and Tony missed her each day, until last Wednesday. In his waning years, Tony battled vision, hearing, and mobility problems, the latter caused by Parkinson’s disease.
As he did throughout life, Tony accepted challenges and combatted their effects with resolve, prayer, and wit. The support of many friends and care providers at Deerfield aided, too.
Tony found new ways to keep current on national and local news, Chicago and Iowa Cubs scores, Sunday Masses from the Basilica of the University of Notre Dame, and the John Deere stock price, including use of a magnifying glass, an iMac computer, and in the last few months, by asking Alexa for updates and to play “sweet ‘50s” tunes.
Tony is survived by his two sons; daughters-in-law Shari and Cheryl; grandchildren Tony (Megan), Ann, John (Amy Mueller), and Beth (Keith Morse); and great grandchildren Gigi, Ricky, and Hugo. He instilled a respect for learning and took great pride that while he did not finish his studies at Drake, all of his children and grandchildren earned college degrees.
Other survivors include many nieces and nephews and sisters-in-law Ruth Staley of Georgia and Jean Schoenbeck of Delaware.
Mass of Christian Burial for Tony will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 7, 2019, at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Urbandale. Visitation will begin one hour before the Mass.
In place of flowers, the family requests that memorials in Tony’s honor be directed to Dowling High School, the Bellizzi MacRae American Legion Post (where Tony was a lifetime member), or the donor’s favorite place of worship.
- Tony Giudicessi
- John Giudicessi
- Harold Adams
- Ed Filby
- Keith Morse
- Ron Rubek
- Dowling High School
- Bellizzi MacRae American Legion Post
- Visitation Monday, October 7, 2019
- Mass of Christian Burial Monday, October 7, 2019
Anthony "Tony" Samuel Giudicessi
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October 6, 2019
Rick and Mike,
I am very sorry to learn of your father's passing. I remember him well. He was a fine man and continuously set a solid example to follow. He, along with your mother, always caused me to feel comfortable in their home. I know you will miss him immensely.
Your friend from the past,
October 6, 2019
Worked with Tony for many years at JD Des Moines. Great person to work with. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Ray and Jackie Hellmann
Pam Bobenhouse Rodewald
October 5, 2019
I met Tony in June when I was visiting a cousin at Deerfield (True Sherman). We had a brief conversation while he was getting his mail. I wanted you to know that his eyes lit up and he became more interested when I told him I went to school with Mike. He was clearly proud of you. So sorry for your loss. May you always remember the good moments. 💐