Peter Valesano Family
Authored by ... Pete Valesano Jr., son
Peter Paul Valesano was born and raised in Wakefield, Michigan. He grew up with 3 brothers (Charlie, Tony, and Dominic) and his parents Charles and Mary (Contratto) Valesano at 1608 Boulevard (Putnam).
He lived in several different towns, working as a welder and eventually shop forman in the Iron Ore Mines.
Peter had asthma, so it was very difficult for him to do any strenuous activity (especially in cold weather) without getting all blocked up. It was heart-breaking to hear him whizzing, coughing, and struggling to breathe. He was a loving father and good provider for his family, always encouraging us (his children) to achieve and do our best. Living through the Great Depression of the 1930's instilled in Peter a sense of conservatism and a strong work ethic. He seemed to be a "jack of all trades".
I don't think there was any job he wouldn't tackle and do himself (and do well) after studying it for a while. To better himself, he took educational classes via mail from International Correspondence Schools at night, and did well with these ... this achievement helped him gain the title of "Master Mechanic" and become a shop forman in the Mines.
I'll always remember how happy I was to see dad come home after work, driving his 1953 green Plymouth with the visor over the top of the windshield. Iron ore dust on the tires and sides of the car, lunch pail in his callused hand, a happy welcoming smile on his tired face. Peter had a small scar in his left eye brow -- a souvenir from a horse kick as a young boy when he tried pulling the horse's tail.
Elsie Marie Galiardi was born August 4, 1915 in Wakefield, Michigan. She grew up with four sisters and one brother (Mayme, Mary, Angeline, Julia, Peter) on a farm in Fink Location with her parents Andrew and Mary (Ozzello) Galiardi. A younger sister (Louisa) died before the age of 1 yr.
Elsie was a people person with many talents -- active in the Girl Scouts, drama in High School, liked to draw. She always dressed very nicely, and had a million dollar smile. After High School, and following graduation from Beauty School in Minneapolis, MN, she and sister Julia owned and operated the Adorable Beauty Salon in Wakefield.
In 1944 Elsie married Peter Valesano, son of Charles and Mary (Contratto) Valesano. Elsie and Peter lived in several different towns, to be where employment for Peter existed. Elsie was a loving, caring mother, and great cook. She kept the house immaculate, and lead by sterling example when it came to a Christian up-bringing and knowing right from wrong .... I think she must have been a saint, because she just "glowed", always doing something nice/good for others, most always wearing that caring smile that says, "I love you."
Even towards the end of her life in the Nursing Home she would reach out to those people without visitors or depressed, talk to them while holding their hand and cheer them up. People were drawn to her, she had many friends. Arts and crafts was one of her hobbies that she stayed active in over the years; making neat creations out of household items, adding personal drawings to her stationery and envelopes, joining clubs with her woman friends, etc. Health issues towards the end of her life marked the end of several things she loved -- going to Arizona for the winter months, enjoying her home in Grands Rapids, doing activities with family and friends.
8/4/1915: Elsie was born in Wakefield, Michigan to Andrew and Mary (Ozzello) Galiardi
1/29/1917: Peter was born in Wakefield, Michigan to Charles and Mary (Contratto) Valesano
1933: Elsie graduated from Wakefield High School
1935-1936: Elsie attended Bradey & Rogers Beauty School in Minneapolis for 9 months with her sister Julia. They both lived in dorm rooms at Dunwoody Hall in Minneapolis.
1937 to 1944: Elsie operated the Adorable Beauty Salon with her sisterJulia
1937: Peter graduated from Wakefield High School
6/3/1944: Peter Valesano & Elsie Galiardi were married in Wakefield, Michigan at St Mary Catholic Church.
1944-46: Peter & Elsie moved to 949 South 56th Street in West Allis, Wisconsin -- a suburb in Milwaukee, Wisc. -- where Peter worked as a welder for the Milwaukee Road and Heil Companies.
1947-51: Elsie wanted her "baby on the way" to be born in Wakefield, so they moved back and bought Mr. Ivar Tuomisto's house at 1301 Anderson Ave in Wakefield, Mich across street from Andrew & Mary Galiardi. Peter worked at the Vicar Mine, just off US 2 on east side of Wakefield.
1952: As work in Wakefield started to decrease, Peter and Elsie moved to Negaunee, Mich at 109 Queen Street. Peter worked as a welder, then master mechanic, and ultimately shop forman in the Tracy Mine.
11/1/1971: When the Tracey Mine closed, Peter & Elsie were forced to find employment elsewhere, so moved to Grand Rapids, Mn at 507 9th St NE. Paid $16,500 for Grand Rapids home (no garage, no concrete drive, etc.). Worked in the Lind Greenway Iron Ore Mine until operations began to slow down and Peter retired in 1977.
After retirement, Peter and his wife Elsie went South for the winter months. They tried Florida, Texas, but eventually liked Mesa, Arizona the best. Initially rented lot C13 in Trailer Village, and drove their motor home back and forth every year.
1994: As they aged, it made more sense to fly back and forth, so they bought a 1994 side-by-side trailer for lot C13. Peter and Elsie didn't get to enjoy the new Mesa home very long.
April 1994: Peter had a stroke (which he somewhat recovered from), but Elsie ruptured a disk in her back that would mean surgery and ultimately paralyze her from the waist down.
6/27/1994: Elsie had back surgery at Mayo Clinic, by Dr. Brad Currier
1/4/1995: Elsie moved into Convelescent & Nursing Care center of Itasca Medical Center in Grand Rapids, after becoming paralyzed and unable to walk.
4/5/1995: Elsie moved into Itasca Nursing Home in Grand Rapids, Mn
1996: Peter moved into Manor House in Grand Rapids, Mn after several small strokes and falling down basement steps in his home, where he was living alone.
1997: Peter moved into C&NC center at Grand Rapids Hospital, then for a short time to an assisted living center in Grand Rapids called Manor House.
Sept 1997: Peter's care requirements increased, so he was moved to Itasca Nursing Home in Grand Rapids,
10/31/1997: Elsie underwent surgery for colon cancer that she was recently diagnosed with.
2/20/1998: Elsie had spent a wonderful Christmas with friends and family. Then her colon cancer returned with aggression, and she struggled for three days before passing away in the Itasca Nursing Home. Her body was cremated and buried in Wakefield, Mich cemetary.
12/9/1998: After Elsie died, Peter's life became very sad. He rarely talked, and lost interest in everything-- TV, newspaper, people, food. Became very thin, passed away, cremated, buried in Wakefield, Mich cemetery.
Peter Valesano 1949-1950
Vicar Mine, Wakefield MI