James L. Bellessa Sr.

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James L. Bellessa Sr. Obituary
James L. Bellessa, Sr.

James L. Bellessa, Sr., passed from this mortal existence on November 2, 2012.

Dad was born to Giacomo and Mabel Barbara Viano Bellessa on June 3, 1920 in Roslyn, Kittatas County, Washington. As his four grandparents had immigrated to America in the 1880's from the Province of Torino in northern Italy, he was of pure Italian stock.

At his birth, Dad was greeted by three sisters, Margaret, Louise, and Elvera. Later, a younger brother, John, joined the family.

Dad attended school in Roslyn through the 8th grade, when he was enlisted to work in the family grocery store. Helped by a family friend as a 17 year old, Dad secured a job in a Seattle Safeway store. He was soon promoted to assistant manager. This sounds impressive until it is realized the store only had two employees.

As soon as Dad reached 21 years in 1941, the minimum required age, he hired on with the Northern Pacific Railroad as a roundhouse worker, cleaning pits and drying sand. One day, as Dad was wiping down engines, his female co-worker, who had worked at the railroad since World War I, told him that he needed to go see the master mechanic, as he was hiring that afternoon for a fireman's position. Dad applied and got the job.

Shortly, thereafter, the United Sates was catapulted into World War II. Dad was inducted into the Army in early 1942. When Dad told the master mechanic about being inducted, his boss claimed it was impossible that he had been drafted since railroad employees were exempted. Further investigation uncovered that the paper work seeking waiver from his induction had inadvertently been left in the master mechanic's deck and never delivered to the state capitol of Olympia.

Dad was sent by the Army to Kodiak, Alaska as a boilermaker due to his steam engine training. After three years in that venue Dad was assigned to Dugway, UT.

One Friday night, the USO transported a bus full of young women from Tooele, Utah to Dugway, perhaps 75 miles way. At the dance Dad would meet Jeanne Ann Bingham, a grade school teacher from Tooele. Dad would marry Jeanne on August 4, 1945.

Soon Dad was discharged from the Army and the newlyweds relocated to Seattle and Dad was able to rejoin the Northern Pacific as a fireman. Dad was promoted to an engineer in 1950. Eventually Dad was hired as a union representative for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers a position he held until retirement.

In 1997 Dad and Mom moved to the Hearthstone Senior Living Center from their home just up from Green Lake. Dad loved the residents and staff of the Hearthstone and felt the Hearthstone was a wonderful place to call home.

Dad was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many callings.

Our Dad is survived by his wife of 67 years, Jeanne Bellessa; sons James L. Bellessa, Jr. (LuAnn), Great Falls, MT, David Bellessa (Hilma), Midway, UT, and Clark Bellessa (Melanie) Federal Way; daughters Patty Groesbeck, Seattle, and Kay Rostrom (Dan), Vernal, UT; 19 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.

A celebration of a life well lived is scheduled for 11 am, Friday, November 9, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2415 31st Ave. W. in Magnolia.

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Published in The Seattle Times from Nov. 6 to Nov. 7, 2012
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